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Healthy Soul

Compassion for Others – 6 Ways to Develop Yours

August 24, 2015

Compassion for Others

Compassion comes in many different forms, but always comes from the heart and mind.

According to Maid Brigade’s 2015 survey, “compassion for others” is what women look for the most in their role models. Having a “strong moral compass” was a close second, followed by “family dedication,” “perseverance against obstacles” and “leadership.”

Role models can be very beneficial in our lives. Most people who work hard at striving to improve themselves usually have a role model or mentor to help them stay on target at achieving their goals. I believe that the ingredient to a successful role model, or even leader, is compassion. As a nurse, compassion is a big part of our jobs. Nurses use compassion to figure out the needs of their patients so they can come up with an action plan that benefits not only the patient, but the patient’s family as well.

To be compassionate is more than just being nice. It is a process of connecting by identifying with another person. It is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. True compassion is hard work, but it is worth every minute of it in terms of what it can do for your well-being and the well-being of others.

To increase you capacity for compassion, here are six tips:

Learn to listen, first and foremost. More often than we care to admit, while we are listening to another person, we start formulating replies in our mind as we wait for a lull in the conversation so we can express our thoughts and comments. Compassion takes a lot of listening, so learn to do just that. Suspend all judgment and give the person your undivided attention. Respond to the emotion behind the story. Angry words may be hiding fear. Guilty feelings sometimes hide behind blame. To empower someone to trust enough to open up, be aware of the underlying emotion and respond to that.

Be positive. When a person seems to be going nowhere but downhill and there is negative energy all around them, it is very easy to lose sight of all their positive qualities. Make it a point to remind yourself, at that moment of conversation, of a particular strength they have. See them for who they really are, whether its patience, loyalty, or understanding.

Be empathic. Try and mentally put yourself in their situation. We all have the ability to feel joy, pain, and even suffering. The situation or the particular details may be unique, but the themes are the same. Remind yourself of a time when you went through something related. Think back of the emotions you went through, and how you longed for empathy and compassion from someone else. Being compassionate means being aware of the pain another person carries inside. I once witnessed a woman at a local family restaurant who was upset with another guest. The guest was a father of three children who sat a few tables over from the woman. The father was lost in his own thoughts, and the kids, being unsupervised, were loud and disruptive. The angry woman leaned over to the father and told him that he needs to learn how to parent his children better. The father, apologized and said that their mother, his wife, just died and they just got back from her funeral. He then explained his feelings of being overwhelmed and apologized again. The moral of the story is to be kind because you never know what someone else is going through.

Show some respect. Respect is not an emotion. It is an action we perform. It is something we do to show others we value them. Showing respect is one way we can show compassion and bring healing to someone during their compromising time.

Give and Receive. I believe that a person can only give unconditional love if they are receiving it too. Get out and enjoy and experience life with people you love and that love you. Replenish your soul. The best thing in life is the feeling you get when you help someone else.

Don’t forget about you. Give yourself a break at times. Remember, no one is perfect, so have compassion for yourself too. You are only human. Things can work out in the end, as long as your efforts and your intentions are in the right direction.

Remember, compassion comes from the mind and the heart.

One of my role models, the Dalai Lama, once spoke about love and compassion, and how they are necessities, not luxuries. He has made compassion a way of life, and left a mark on history that has made our world a better place. His wish was for all people to live with compassion for all living things. I have the utmost respect for all those who have embraced compassion as a way of life, and have given their lives for others in need, including children and animals. From the Dalia Lama, to Mother Theresa, to the advocates who have and continue to walk the path of non-violence and compassion, and to the healthcare team that I work with every day, you are all my role models and my heroes for realizing the power of this precious gift we call “giving.”

 

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