Myths About Compassion

Many times,the biggest thing that stops us for being compassionate is ourselves. We tell ourselves little stories, reasons about why we’re not or cant be compassionate. By bringing them to your conscious attention, I hope to give you some space to think. 

Being compassionate is weak.

And I don’t want to be weak. Hell, I can’t afford it! In my job/position, I have to show others that I’m strong. Especially because I’m a woman/person of color/person with disabilities, I have to stand up for myself.

But compassion can be very strong. When you show others that you know they’ve messed up but are willing to give them a second chance, you make your position stronger. When you act to defend others out of your compassion for their situation, you show everyone how powerful a woman/person of color/person with disabilities can be.

People will take advantage of my being compassionate.

I’m not an idiot. If I let one person hand in their work late because the baby was up all night, then everyone will want to do it. They’ll all have perfectly plausible excuses, but that’s what will happen.

Of course, no one is suggesting that you should let others treat you badly. Compassion isn’t about letting others get their way. You are a smart cookie: you know when someone is genuinely in need and when they’re trying to pull one over. Gently but firmly refuse any attempts to bamboozle you and hold to your line when someone cries favoritism. Explain that you will do the same for them when they need it. And don’t be afraid to be sympathetic while still insisting that the work get done. Sometimes compassion is just letting someone rant and telling them you know it’s hard but that they can do it.

Only saints have that much compassion.

And Goddess knows, I’m no saint. I don’t have the patience for compassion. Yet, when we look to mythology, we see that any famously compassionate figures started as people just like us. Some of the best known nonviolent leaders of our time, well known for their compassion, early in life urged people to take up arms. There is no special inborn nature that will make compassion easier. It is going to take practice.

What are some stories you are telling yourself about compassion? Share in the comments!

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About Melissa ra Karit

I'm a queer, poly, genderqueer Witch. I'm a sex-positive feminist, an activist, and a writer. I believe that when we attend to our individual good, we approach the world with good in our hearts and change the world for the better. Opinions expressed here are solely my personal opinions, and do not represent the views of any organization with which I am affiliated.
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