By Catherine Anesi, LCSW, RM

The energy of compassion feels soft, peaceful, kind, and loving.

The energy of anger feels hard, demanding, needy, and uncomfortable.

It’s so difficult to watch a loved one suffer. Many of us want to rush in to fix their situation only to be left feeling angry and resentful when they do not heed our sound, practical, and seemingly simple advice. We can become very judgmental when another does not behave the way we feel would be best for them.

We also can get upset with those who, in their choices, impact our lives negatively. We can then sometimes put demands on them, “If you do this or don’t do that, then I will fill in the blank”. Or tell another that you “need” them to be a certain way and if not then you will fill in the blank.

At these times it is so difficult to find true compassion. True compassion looks, and more importantly, feels very different than requiring or needing someone to behave in or be a certain way that makes us feel ok.  

You know you are setting yourself up for a life of anger, resentment, and unhappiness when:

  • You are ultra-focused on the other rather than focusing on your own life.
  • You can feel the other’s pain and suffering as if it were your own-as if you are somehow connected.
  • You take responsibility for another’s behaviors and feelings as if somehow you have control over any of it.
  • You can’t stand watching another have anything other than a positive emotion and are very bothered when they are less then ok.
  • Another’s behavior bugs the heck out of you.

You know you are being compassionate and feeling compassion when:

  • You can accept the other’s behaviors, attitudes, ideas and actions in every moment the best that you can.
  • You can separate out and allow the other to feel the emotions that they are feeling regardless of your emotions about the same subject.
  • You can allow the other to love, befriend, and choose whatever it is that they want regardless of how you feel about it.
  • You can allow another to be who they are even when you can clearly see the not so great choices that have led up to their situation.
  • You can allow the other the full consequences of their choices and not jump in to fix things for them.

To be truly compassionate means to accept the other for who they are in every moment the best that you can.

There are degrees of compassion that are ever changing. Compassion does not live in the land of the black and white.

When you are feeling other than compassionate it is a reminder to focus on yourself and surrender to whatever is happening around you.

When you find yourself trying to fix your loved ones and becoming angry when they don’t behave the way you want, take a breath, relax and understand your only responsibility is to your own self-care.

Compassion is not only for another but for yourself as well.  There may be times when tough choices must be made in order for you to feel safe and comfortable. You may have to set boundaries for yourself in order to keep your integrity in place and accept that you have your own limits.

Ultimately your only responsibility is to yourself and to being open to the energy of compassion for yourself is vital.

Compassion starts with you. Judging yourself for not being as compassionate as you would like to be is futile.

So, when you are feeling less compassionate then you would like, take a breath, relax, and drop into the soft, gentle feeling of compassion first for yourself and then for others. You will feel those feelings of anger and resentment melt away as you soften to those important people in your life.

In learning to accept ourselves we also learn to accept others.

For in accepting ourselves we accept others.