Presence Is the Most Important Aspect of Compassion
Presence Is the Most Important Aspect of Compassion Joan of Arc through Janet Lynn Roseman
Channelﾒs Note: Is compassion an eroding virtue? I believe that we all possess the ability to embody profound compassion with our friends and coworkers, yet often the compassion that we hold sacred is not usually extended to those who need it most, and by that, I mean ourselves. I wonder why we are generally the first to excoriate ourselves and to deliver negative messages about our worth, our appearance, or our actions with ease. Of course, our experiences in life often provide a framework for such negative and frequently automatic thinking: Parents who were unkind, tragic circumstances in life, or emotion or physical abuse lay the groundwork for such negativity. Yet there are those who rise above their circumstances and possess great kindness for others. I believe that this offering to other people of compassion and kindness can only take place when we have taken the time to be conscious of the messages we send ourselves and how we frame our own worth. We cannot offer to another person a compassionate stance when we do not extend that compassion to ourselves. This, of course, is an ongoing process. Joan of Arc was able to rise above her persecutors and hold her faith in heart during the worst of times, even when she was continually berated and abused. She knew the magic of compassion, and even when she was burned at the stake, she openly forgave those who condemned her.
The word ﾓcompassionﾔ in the dictionary includes definitions such as ﾓfeeling for anotherﾒs sorrow or hardship that leads to help,ﾔ ﾓsympathy,ﾔ and ﾓpity.ﾔ I am not a fan of the word ﾓpity,ﾔ but that prompted me to look up its definition: ﾓsorrow for anotherﾒs suffering.ﾔ When you take the word ﾓcompassionﾔ apart, you find this: com means ﾓwithﾔ and passion means ﾓsufferﾔ; hence, compassion is ﾓto suffer with.ﾔ
If we are truly honest with ourselves, some people are easier to be compassionate with while others are just more challenging. So I wonder, are we offering the opportunity to ﾓsuffer withﾔ ourselves when we try to be compassionate to ourselves, or is that untrue? Are we confusing suffering with compassion? Certainly, when we reprimand ourselves and tell ourselves unkind things about ourselves (and I am no exception), are we just spinning the wheel of thoughts without actually possessing those thoughts? I think that compassion is integral to our psyche as human beings, and some people are able to touch this part of themselves while others are not — for a variety of reasons: life, makeup of psyche, models, and so on.