Compassion is essential to human well-being and should be practiced by all of us. To do so, we need to discern between healthy compassion and its cheap imitations: pity and blind compassion.
The cheap counterfeits to true compassion operate on avoidance. Pity seeks to avoid involvement and confrontation by placating from a distance. Blind compassion avoids tough love and defending healthy boundaries. It cuts everyone far too much slack, making excuses for others’ behavior and acting nice in situations that require a clear voice of dissent and personal boundaries.
We often turn a blind eye to the actual issues confronting us and resort instead to the wishy-washy approach of blind compassion which keeps love too meek and kind. Why do we do this?
Most of the time, we practice mealy-mouthed, blind compassion because we mistakenly think compassion should be meek. We are also afraid of upsetting anyone, and we wish to avoid confrontation. Ugh! By compromising on our truth, we turn into resonance junkies who are afraid to say “no” and try to please everyone around us instead.
There is a price to pay for this compromise. When we’re afraid to say “no” with any real authority, our “yes” also becomes anemic and powerless. And by muting our truth, this wishy-washy attitude reflects a lack of compassion and respect for ourselves.
Blind compassion also causes conflicted emotions in us: it confuses anger with aggression, forcefulness with violence, judgment with condemnation, caring with exaggerated tolerance, and moral maturity with spiritual correctness. It ultimately frames us as powerless victims because it silences our inner truth while tolerating and empowering the neurotic, boundary-bashing behavior of others.
In order for us to take our power back and live from a place of true compassion, we need to first return to being honest with ourselves. We need to acknowledge the pain, fear or threat that is triggered in us by others. By honestly allowing ourselves to feel the full emotional impact of what we have experienced, we are able to neutralize and forgive it.
Authentic forgiveness becomes possible only when we give ourselves permission to feel our hurt and meet it with true compassion. It also requires our willingness to experience some interim relationship conflict as we interrupt the dysfunction that has caused the pain.
When we act from this place of self-honesty and forgiveness, we access the power of true compassion. That true compassion empowers us to take appropriate action when necessary. It can be fierce when it needs to interrupt neurotic behavior, without any loss of caring in the process.
True compassion is a powerful form of tough love which ultimately leads to respect and clarity in relationship with ourselves and others.
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