Monday, June 2, 2014

More Compassion for Myself and Others

As we go through our experiences in CancerLand most of us develop more compassion for other people. It happens as we face fear, grief and also some hard truths about our selves. It continues as we come to humbly grasp and accept the concept of projection (yes, we dislike in others what we most do not want to face in ourselves), and we also develop more compassion when we really, deeply understand that bumper-sticker saying that is all over Facebook these days: “Be Kind to Others—Everyone is Having a Hard Time.”

We all know that’s true and we all click “like” on Facebook to indicate, “Yeah, I know.” But that doesn’t actually help much when a co-worker is snippy or a clerk is mean or when a neighbor takes your well-meaning comment and replies with something nasty, or when a friend suddenly goes chilly on you.

Here is something that does help me build compassion. It comes from that fabulous Jungian Clarissa Pinkola-Estes who wrote “Women Who Run with the Wolves”.  She wrote:

“We can come close to reconstructing the wounds of childhood by closely inspecting what adults lose their temper over.”

Isn’t that great? A brilliant, insightful observation and a one-sentence tool for almost instant compassion.

But don’t miss this part: When I began using that sentence to help me with others I started out by diagnosing people in a less than caring way, “Oh that control freak must have had a lot of chaos in her childhood—poor her.” Hmmm….well, that’s not quite the spirit, is it?

Instead consider that Pinkola-Estes brilliant sentence can also –and best—be used for developing compassion for yourself. That variation might go like this: I can come close to recognizing and accepting the wounds of my childhood by closely noticing what I lose my temper over.

Isn’t that better? And softer? And that is what let’s me keep changing my life.

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