3 Ways Compassion and Empathy Enhance Life Experience
We are all perfectly imperfect with flaws, nuances and failures that underscore our lives. If we look too closely and judge too harshly the very things that make us human then we hurt ourselves and others by extension. Compassion and empathy allows us to look at ourselves and others through a different vision- one that is steeped in understanding of human nature and the innate vulnerability and insecurities we all share. Often, we construct a picture of flawless perfection as we fight to step up to expectations and opinions and in doing so we damage ourselves through false beliefs and self sabotaging behaviours. We all have faults, we will all fall down, yet it is how we utilise every experience that can dramatically navigate us to a stronger mindset and a wiser way forward.
A greater compassion for self ignites an elevated code or moral compass to live by, one that heals rather than hurts, and seeks to understand rather than judge. Here are three life lessons on compassion and empathy.
1. Through the looking glass
Compassion begins with you. When we are able to look at ourselves with a heightened awareness of everything that we, family, friends, or our society and external conditioning has deemed wrong or unworthy we begin to rise up and step toward a powerful existence. Without enhancing our intrinsic empathetic skills we lock ourselves in loops of limits that are defined by our external world. We are our own worst critics, our own worst enemy at times. Think about how different your life would be if you accepted all your quirks and idiosyncrasies as a part of who you are? Self love involves loving yourself at your lowest emotional ebb so you can rise higher. We are so afraid to be vulnerable because we feel it shows our weakness- but through that fragility shines our greatest strength.
Remember that in order to ignite change we first need to recognize our failings and direct them passionately toward a bigger purpose.
“Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from the responsibility of our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance”- Tara Brach
2. Empathy and emotional intelligence
When we journey through to a higher understanding of ourselves and our triggers and motives, we can use that skill to harness our emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent people practice self awareness, respond rather than defensively react, and express their emotions more positively. This emotional acuity helps to break down defensive barriers in relationships of all types and focuses on instilling an empowered approach to problem solving and building stronger interpersonal relationships. Empathy means putting yourself in another’s shoes, seeing the world through another’s eyes and relating their experience to something you hold deep within. Empathy connects us on all levels- as human beings, as comrades, and as souls.
We are less angered and annoyed by others when we can perceive the world and their place in it from their standpoint.
“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms”- Sterling K. Brown
3. Meeting people where they are
We become frustrated with the people that surround us when we keep wanting them to meet our expectations. Expectations are harmful in many respects because they are built up on a false or impractical vision, something that has no solidity or integrity within it. An expectation is an over inflated and damning version of hope. Expectations lead to judgmental rather than constructive critique, fuel anxiety, and create inner conflicts. Showing compassion for yourself and others means surrendering to the truth of what is before you- whether that is your own reflection or someone else’s. When we look beyond the illusion of what we want to see, what we find is a person just doing their best with the knowledge and experience they have at that time.
We can learn to meet people where they are instead of berating them for where they aren’t.
“Despite how open, peaceful, and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you, as deeply as they’ve met themselves.” – Matt Kahn
Compassion and empathy are the skill sets of our soul. When we live from a heart-led platform we naturally raise our powers of perception, understanding, and inner wisdom. The power of emotion acts like our spiritual fuel; it is our strong engine of emotional experience that moves us toward personal growth and evolution.
When we meet ourselves at our deepest and sometimes lowest points, we harness the beauty of meeting others at theirs too.
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