Some days are better than others. And on those really bad days, it’s only human nature to focus on just how bad that day is, and how badly you feel, and how difficult life seems to be. But falling into a “funk” can be de-energizing, leaving you emotionally stuck, isolated, tired of being tired.
Here’s an idea to consider: compassion.
Compassion begins with you. Ever find yourself beating up on yourself for something you did in the past, yesterday, last year, ten years ago? Let the past be past. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, that you are human, that you can’t expect yourself to be perfect. In other words, compassion is about going easy on yourself, and giving yourself a break.
It starts with your own self-talk. “I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to get upset because I’m not perfect. I’m doing the best I can right now.”
Go easy on yourself, and then you can go easy on others.
Compassion means relaxing your expectations about others. Letting them be who they are in the same way that you stop making unreasonable demands of yourself. When you release your expectations of others – and stop focusing on what they should do, or didn’t do, or did wrong – then it’s a whole lot easier to be with them. The anger, disappointment, frustration go away. And so does a lot of stress.
The practice of compassion also means stepping outside of yourself to reach out to someone else with love and concern. I encourage my clients to get out of themselves, to reach out to the world around them with the goal of making some contribution. They could begin by calling friends, not to ask for support but to give support, offering encouragement and assistance to the people around them. Or maybe find ways to volunteer in their communities. They report back that they have gained much more by helping others than they could possibly have given.
Giving of yourself creates energy, and helps you to open up to new ideas, new possibilities, new ways of being. Practicing compassion doesn’t have to involve anything strenuous. It can be a simple as a phone call and a few kind words.
Compassion for others will put you in touch with something beyond the challenges that you are facing in your life. And in the process, compassion helps you to find your way back to your true self.
Now, breathe a sigh of relief. Relax. Open up.
And remember, compassion is a boomerang.
Have you ever experienced having your day brightened by a compassionate gesture from someone? Ever find that reaching out to someone else helps to take you out of your own problems?
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