The very definition of compassion is the sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
But being wrapped up in our own very stressful and demanding lives we can sometimes walk by on the other side of the road.
Or we walk by not because we don’t want to help but we don’t know how, or we feel unsure that we aren’t going to get swindled or robbed by stopping.
Or worse, we see pictures of people in plight, take pity on them, but heaven forbid they come and live in my backyard type of attitude.
We are all very good it seems at dipping into our purses for huge disaster fund-raising appeals, or telethon, which is brilliant in its own way, but does compassion really have to be a huge gesture.
Sometimes an act of compassion can be something as simple as a hug, asking if someone is OK, being an ear to listen (just listen and not offer advice unless asked for) or simply respecting when someone needs time alone to gather their strength or their thoughts.
And acts of compassion can start at home, but it can be difficult.
18 months ago my mum nearly died because the doctors failed to notice she was literally filling up with fluid as her kidneys were failing. Thankfully, action was taken in the nick of time, and she’s still here. But since then her health has deteriorated and although she’s still my mum, she’s not the woman I knew – if that makes sense.
Technically now, aside from her kidneys, which have stabilised, there is nothing wrong with her. But it has taken its toll mentally, and she has slid into that downward spiral of depression. Most days she gets up and sits in her chair – sleeping most of the time – and it is a great day if she gets dressed.
It’s certainly taken its toll on my dad, whose temper spring is wound more tightly than ever.
And some days it is difficult to find compassion when you can see that she might feel better if she actually got dressed, ate something, or tried to go outside for a breath of fresh air, but that she isn’t doing anything to help and it looks like she is just sitting there waiting to die!
But I try to show compassion by trying to understand how she must be feeling and pretty much taking over the household stuff. After all she’s my mum and I love her.
I have always tried to be a compassionate person. I have always been there for anyone who wants to chat, or needs a hug, or if anything wants doing I have always offered, and I always will.
I found a lovely article which gave 5 ways you can show compassion:
- Lighten a load – simply by offering to do something for someone else. It could be as simple as offering your seat on public transport or offering to do the shopping for an elderly neighbour.
- Give a hug – and from someone who loves cuddles, this is my favourite. A hug shows you care. A hug says what you want without actually having to say anything at all. Quite simply it means I’m here for you.
- See yourself in them – or simply have empathy, the ability to put yourselves in their shoes. You don’t necessarily have to have the answers to fix anything, just by being aware of their situation and trying to understand how you would feel and act in their shoes. Maybe they’re overworked and tired and just need some alone time, if that were me the last thing I would want is to be interrupted in my own head space, so the best thing to do is let them have their time alone and not bother them. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care, but that you respect them.
- Let your heart-break – we’ve all seen the heart-breaking ads on television from charities. And yes we can donate money, but sometimes maybe we can help out nearer home by volunteering a few hours to drive elderly people to appointments, or help out at a group for disadvantaged children. When I was in sixth form I did voluntary community service once a week at an old people’s home, and loved spending the afternoon chatting and having cups of tea with them. These days I volunteer at school on the PTA, and do various jobs at church.
- Respond always – this one is a little bit like having empathy, but if you need to speak make sure it’s always something positive. So if someone sounds a bit down try to give them a boost and say how amazing they are.
I guess, what I’m trying to say is that with a bit of compassion for our fellow humans, maybe we can start making the world a nicer place to live in!
What do you think?