I’d like to introduce you to some foundational facts that are part of the Conscious Service Approach. I call them Cardinal Truths. In my development of the Conscious Service Approach, I created a set of 10 Guiding Principles accompanied by relevant Cardinal Truths ~ there are 72 in total. I’ll just share a couple of them here.
Cardinal Truth ~ Self-Compassion is the Highest Expression of Self-Love
Most Service Providers see themselves as compassionate people. We strive to empathize and connect with others on deeply emotional levels in order to demonstrate our desire to understand and to convey the message that we’re in this together.
And yet, at times, we find ourselves feeling drained and empty. We created a term “compassion fatigue” in order to describe our condition. We are simply too compassionate and we have exhausted our resources and capacity for caring.
This explanation does not make sense to me. Compassion is a spiritual quality. Compassion is grounded in love and love feels good. If it feels any less than that, it is not love. Perhaps, it was at one point and has morphed into possessiveness, jealousy, fear of loss, or the pain of betrayal. Regardless of the specific circumstances, if we aren’t feeling it, then love has left the building ~ even if only temporarily.
So, compassion itself does not ~ cannot create fatigue. To be compassionate does not make us tired, but lack of self-compassion is exhausting.
And this seems to be the challenge that faces Service Providers on a regular basis. All the energy ~ emotional and otherwise ~ is directed toward other people without regard for the self.
I’m not talking here about taking breaks and pampering ourselves on the superficial level. I’m talking about loving ourselves in the deepest and most profound ways. I mean valuing our bodies as temples for our souls. I am referring to how we treat ourselves in each and every moment. Do we make choices that lead to unhappiness? Do we engage in activities that destroy our health on every level? Do we put ourselves last and call this noble? Do we speak gently to and about ourselves?
It is the day in and day out relationship we have with our own experience ~ our inner reality ~ that indicates how well we love ourselves. It is not something we save for the weekend or only offer to ourselves once we have hit the brick wall and can’t function.
I have found that self-compassion becomes ultimately powerful when I am faced with what I perceive to be my own shortcomings. Perhaps, I have stepped out of integrity or maybe, I didn’t follow through on commitments I made to myself. Maybe, I flat out made a big mistake and maybe, someone else got hurt in the process. It’s in these moments that the demonstration of self-compassion can be life-changing. It is so easy to love ourselves when we are behaving as we intended, when we feel good about what we are doing or have accomplished, and when everything is right with our world. The test comes when things fall apart ~ when we are disappointed in ourselves ~ when we mess up. These are the greatest opportunities for the development of self-compassion ~ for loving ourselves.
It’s not about making excuses that let us off the hook only so we can repeat the experience again and again ~ rather, real, genuine, heartfelt compassion for ourselves as beings who are continually evolving. When we do this, we create space for unprecedented growth. No one learns and expands in the presence of punishment and scolding. We learn through patience, forgiveness, and acceptance with a gentle nudge toward a new way.
It takes courage to create that space for yourself.
Cardinal Truth ~ Courage builds Resilience. Resilience requires Risk. Risk leads to Growth and Opportunity and makes life worth living.
When my children were growing up, I used to set intentions to declare my hopes for them. This was an internal process and something I held space for. When they struggled with something and I would find myself wishing it was different or I could somehow take away the pain or the challenge, I began to realize that these were opportunities for them to develop resilience among other qualities. And I wanted my children to be resilient.
Of course, we only develop resilience in the face of adversity ~ there is some level of risk involved in the process. Where there is risk there is a need for courage. Yes, I wanted to see their resilience but I was not so comfortable with the risky part of the process.
As Service Providers, we often struggle with the role of risk in the lives of those we serve. Sometimes, we believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that others do not engage in what we perceive as risky behaviour. Risky behaviour is subjectively defined. What is a risk to us may be commonplace for someone else.
Have you ever made a decision that others thought was risky but you knew was essential to your growth and evolution? Without risk, there is no expansion ~ nothing changes. Risk is required in order to move from where we are now to where we wish to go next. It often involves letting go of something familiar in exchange for the vast unknown.
When we take risks and things don’t turn out as planned, we are given the opportunity to develop resilience. When everything is comfortable and familiar, there is no need to tap into our stores of resilience ~ we don’t develop new coping strategies ~ we stagnate.
Healthy risk is essential to our development as human beings and it enriches our lives. As Service Providers our role is to assist people to determine what healthy risk means to them and create safety net should things fall apart. This means we need to be courageous ~ we must go forth without any guarantees ~ we must take a chance.
Compassion for others and for ourselves is necessary as we develop our capacity for courage and our ability to tap into our resilience. This makes us stronger and promotes self-trust.
Compassion is about seeing others and ourselves as capable of change and growth. Compassion helps us to get back up when we’ve fallen and to have faith in our ability to heal and transform.
There’s nothing that says love louder than that.
On the next episode of Serving Consciously airing live on Friday February 9 at 12pm PST, I will explore these Cardinal Truths in more detail and offer tools and techniques you can use in your life and service to deepen self-compassion, compassion for others, and courage in the process.
Please join me and if you are so inclined, call in at 1-844-390- 8255 to chat during the show. I would love to connect!
Let’s get started!
Where do you stand on the connection between self-compassion, courage, risk and resilience?