Crossing the Bridge and Seeing the Reality of True Compassion | #12Days4Good

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Crossing The Bridge

I like to think of myself as a compassionate person. I’ve volunteered my entire life, cared about and supported a variety causes, and been known as a sort of ‘Save the (fill in the blank)’ type. But over the decades I’ve noticed that my view and expression of compassion is not only ever changing, it is also never entirely perfect, complete, or ‘full’.

In a compelling TEDtalk ‘The Power of Connection’ (that further shifted my ideas around what being compassionate truly means) Hedy Schleifer recounts how she would visit her ailing mother who was in a wheelchair and hadn’t recognized her daughter for months. After time, Schleifer realized that during her visits she was not truly visiting her mother. She was visiting with grief. She was visiting with guilt. So she decided she would cross the bridge from the world of her own emotion, leaving the place where she was struggling, so she could go to visit with her mother. When she did this, her mother recognized her.

Hearing Schleifer’s story challenged me to think of the ways I do not always stop to cross that bridge and how often our compassion is expressed without learning about the rich landscape of others. It’s an idea that is crystallized for me in the 12 Days 4 Good campaign, when we are called not only to give and do good but to pause and reflect more fully on the ways in which we do that.

How can I make my compassion more full?

How, as Schleifer describes, can I listen to others as though I am learning a new language, the language of another?

There’s an intimacy to compassion that calls on us to learn, to understand and to know more fully the journeys, challenges and humanness of the people around us:

  • knowing as much as we can about the organizations we support and the people within them
  • spending time with the people our actions impact through service, volunteering, and mentorship
  • having conversations about the needs in our community with people who are doing the work
  • setting aside our assumptions, stereotypes, and judgments to learn about issues from another’s perspective and experience
  • being willing to do things that are needed, rather than just convenient

-By Jane Barkley

 

Seeing the Reality

Compassion can be expressed in so many ways. For people like myself, I find that my compassion for others is not easily expressed in ways that others relate to. It does not mean I don’t have or don’t feel compassion – it is a daily, and hourly (if not more) emotion that affects my actions all the time.

I learned from my parents what compassion is. I did not always understand the reason why they did all the extra they did for just about everyone, but as I became an adult, I got it. We are here to make this world better. When we see someone that is in need of something you have, well… you share it. Every little bit helps, just by caring and investing in those around you.

Compassion is about seeing the realities of those around you. Not as how you would see them, but as how they would see them. Understanding and feeling the vulnerabilities, the fears, the challenges that these people have to face. When I take a moment to do this, the next thing I do is ask myself what can I do to help?

-By Darrick Hahn

 

12 days 4 good day 1

“Sympathy sees and says ‘I’m sorry’. Compassion sees and says ‘I’ll help’” TWEET THIS

Jane Barkley and Darrick Hahn are today’s featured Do Gooder (pair). To learn more about them and the 12 Days 4 Good campaign visit 12days4good.com

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