Got Compassion?

One of my greatest faults is a lack of compassion and empathy for others. I don’t know how, where, or when these qualities died within myself, but I do recognize that if they exist currently in my being, it is at such a reduced level as to be almost imperceivable to my own cognition. This is not the type of person I ever intended to become but, being honest with myself, it is certainly who I am. And though I consider these to be great qualities for any person, I can no longer find them within myself. And before I go much further, let’s define some words for clarity:

Empathythe action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

also: the capacity for this

Sympathythe act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another

also: the feeling or mental state brought about by such sensitivity

 Compassionsympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

 I believe I still have the ability to be sympathetic to another being’s plight or situation. I can still put myself in another’s shoes and understand the emotions they may be feeling. I can express sincere sympathy for what has brought them to a point in their life that these feelings derive from. But I do not necessarily have a desire to alleviate those feelings for them nor am I willing to vicariously experience these feelings or thoughts with them. When they fall into a deep dark hole, I can easily peer over the edge and understand how deep, dark, and scary being in the hole must be. But I am not willing to crawl down into the hole with them. Nor am I overtly willing to be the only driving force behind getting them out.

This may stem from, or be a combination of, a number of things. It may be that very early in my life I decidedly chose independence in action and thought. I defiantly moved out of the family home at an early age and was forced to deal with all the difficulties of life on my own, as returning to or seeking help from my parents or others would be a sign of failure on my part. I quickly learned that rarely was life unfair, it was simply responding to decisions and actions that were, at the time, very foolhardy on my part. I was reaping the fruit of the seeds I had sown. Ego, emotion, stubbornness, and poor judgement fueling the fire of the problems I was experiencing. With retrospect, I was able to recognize that the ‘bad’ things that were happening to me were of my own doing, even if it was not obvious to me in the moment. I believe I see other’s plight in the same light.

That as difficult as their situation may be, it is likely a result of either an action or inaction on their part. It is not the world just dumping on them because of bad luck or some other ethereal force conspiring against them. For example, I can readily sympathize with the loss of a loved one, but I do not feel that there is anything I can do that will remove those feelings for the person experiencing them. I believe that they will have to work through their grief on their own and there is nothing I can do but sympathize and offer my condolences. But I don’t think I can ‘fix’ anything for them. Now take the example of the person whose car has now ceased working and they can no longer get to work. That sucks and I know it from personal experience. But the situation they are in, which often elicits the ‘why me’ question in their heads, that feeling that they are just unlucky or life has it out for them as it actively works to curb any hope of success on their part, is likely the result of not maintaining their vehicle properly. And when the breakdown occurs, the lack of funds to remedy the situation stems from placing so many other vacuous needs before the priority of reliable transportation. When my friend’s car breaks down and they lament how evil life has been to them, I immediately think of the vacation or new tattoo that their extra cash went to instead.

I am a true believer that the things that happen to us in life are only those things that we allow to happen. When you lose your job because you cannot consistently arrive to work on time, you may feel that life is just treating you poorly, but I believe that whether you realize it or not, it is what you wanted to have happen. Even if it is only on a subconscious level, you somehow chose to act in the way that brought about your recent unemployment. This view that our tribulations in life are of our own making, makes it difficult to be compassionate. I see most things as being a choice we have made. Now let’s broach an idea that I am sure will go over like a lead balloon.

If you are in an abusive relationship, either romantically or professionally, I see you having two options. You can choose to stay in the relationship, or you can choose to leave. If you stay, I have no compassion for what is truly a horrendous condition to live in, but you are in it by choice. If you choose to leave, then you are empowering yourself and choosing what is acceptable in your life and what is not. I am not saying leaving is easy, but there are several organizations and programs available to specifically help you get out of that situation. If you simply choose not to act, then by default I believe that as horrible as it is, you are choosing for it to continue.

There may be some exceptions to this dogma of active choice, but they would be extremely rare. We cannot control nature and I do not believe you chose to have torrential rain cause a flood. But I do believe you chose to buy or build a home in an area where flooding could happen. You can’t buy a home next to an airport and then complain about the noise. You did not choose to have your partner cheat on you the first time, you simply put your trust in someone that was likely undeserving of it. But how would you know that until it happens? The second time they cheat on you is specifically by choice.

I am not sure exactly how I got to where I am regarding a lack of compassion, I can just freely admit that it is where I am. And for all I know, this is the least of my faults. All this may simply stem from what I perceive to be my inability or unwillingness to connect on a deeply emotional level. Reading my previous post, “The Jaded Heart“, would shine some light on how I have become somewhat emotionally protective. Now I am not sure how to get back. I want to be a more compassionate person, but my intellect overrules my emotions at nearly every turn. My intellect has rarely led me astray, whereas my heart has left me feeling the fool on so many occasions. Not hard to see why I might trust one over the other. At this point, I will also freely admit that being this honest about myself is less than comfortable, as real honesty usually is.

Comments
15 Responses to “Got Compassion?”
  1. Jim Borden says:

    they say awareness is the first step…

  2. I have to say that your self-assessment seems on point. Often, when you see my compassion overflowing, you mention how you wouldn’t go that far. Sometimes, I need that dialogue so that I can look more clearly at my compassion and its objectives. In a way, you are my counter-balance.

  3. kristianw84 says:

    Okay. So last comment, and then I’ll stop stalking you. 😉 First of all, I commend you for writing this. I know how hard it is to even write about yourself so honestly, let alone share it, knowing you might be judged for it. It takes courage to write so openly. It’s admirable. Secondly, I wouldn’t call any of the traits you mentioned ‘flaws.’ Take it from someone who is extremely empathetic, compassionate, and sympathetic, I wish I had more of that. My sensitivity needs a little bit of your jadedness to remind me that my empathy isn’t always appreciated. You’d think I’d learn by now, I’ve been hurt so many times, but I just keep showing love & compassion because that’s who I am. It’s funny, I think I have compassion for everyone except myself. I will never measure up to my own standards.

    • kristianw84 says:

      Sorry, I lied, this is my last comment. As I was editing my post, there is a part that is familiar to this post. I wanted to let you know that I honestly wrote that post before I read this one. I didn’t want you to think I was stealing ideas from you without giving you credit for it. I would never do such a thing, but I would have to change so much of my story, and it fits Kevin’s personality which has been shown this far. If it does bother you though, please let me know.

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Please Kristian, do not give it a second thought. For one, stealing my work is something you would never do. Secondly, you can’t steal something that is a gift. You are given free license to use, sample, or refer to anything I have written and use it as you see fit. You are a dear friend and I trust you implicitly! Yours always! 💕

      • kristianw84 says:

        Thank you. I appreciate that. 🥰

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Don’t stop stalking me, Kristian! I would immediately feel lonely! 😁🤣 Thank you for your kind words. There is no use in hiding the truths about ourselves and no way to avoid being judged. Like you, I must just be who I am, and I must rely on myself to determine who I will become. I do not fear the judgement of others. Nor do I give it any weight, unless it is from a friend or family who has earned my respect. When you are so overtly kind, thoughtful, empathetic, and compassionate you are certainly in a position to be taken advantage of. But I am sure life has, over time, made you much better at seeing where that caring is needed and appreciated, and where it is not. We truly are our own harshest critics! Much love!

      • kristianw84 says:

        I have become a better judge of character, my current job has given me more confidence. I learned to listen to my intuition more often. It’s usually never wrong, and when it is, I have never been afraid to admit my mistakes, but I have learned not to be so much of a pushover or a walking door mat. I have put my foot down to stop others, even those higher than me from their bullying. I guess there’s some mixed feelings about the promotion o received after only 2 years of employment, but it is not my fault that I’m so good at what I do, or that I have great ideas and the CEO wants to hear more of them. 😂🤣 Anyway, thank you! I’ll keep stalking! ❤😘

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Nothing makes you feel loved like having a stalker! 🤣😁❤😘

      • kristianw84 says:

        Hahaha!!! At least I’m not creepy. 🤷‍♀️🤣❤

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Not creepy…a little scary maybe. But I am not complaining. My stalker is beautiful and that is about as lucky as one can hope for! 😘

      • kristianw84 says:

        😘💋😘💋

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