What is compassion? How do we effectively live in compassion? As defined in Websters Dictionary, compassion is sympathetic, consciousness of others distress. Websters goes on to clarify that this consciousness is coupled with a desire to alleviate it.
To be sympathetic and conscious of another person’s distress is a wonderful thing. Wanting to help alleviate another person’s distress is also a wonderful thing. This is the motivation behind charitable giving. Problems arise, however, when we take-on the distress of others as our own distress. Some of us become like a sponge, absorbing the distress, drama and discomfort of others to our detriment.
Avoiding the sponge syndrome
Many people point with pride to their being an empath. Empaths can enter a room and feel someone else’s pain. Rather than letting that experience simply be an experience, empaths often absorb that pain. In absorbing the pain it becomes their own pain with the same results. This is counter productive if you truly wish to be of assistance to another person. One cannot successfully help eliminate pain, discomfort or sadness from the level of the pain, discomfort or sadness. To truly be of assistance one must remain above the issue. If someone is in distress it is because they cannot see a way to rise above the issue. Why would another person believe they, themselves, could see more clearly from that same perspective? This is why it is important to avoid the sponge syndrome.
Becoming a rock
For the truly compassionate person it is essential to become as a rock in a stream. The pain, discomfort and distress of others can flow all around them. They can be aware of all the swirling emotions and at the same time remain detached. The stream of emotions does not directly impact the rock. From the rock’s solid position one might offer support because it can remain an observer rather than a participant. When one is engulfed in drama, pain or discomfort there is no solution available. From the observer position solutions can be found. As a rock, one can be compassionate and helpful.
Taking the steps
If you have found yourself becoming a sponge for other people’s trouble I have a suggestion. Read my book It’s All About Me, the involved observer. You will find many ways to remain compassionate without becoming part of the problem. Click on the cover below to read a sample of the book, then order it through Amazon.com.