It only takes a moment to look around and notice the need for compassion in our world. News of tragedy and trauma can scare the hell out of us. Another youth is missing ~ another act of violence expressed. It can fill us with fear to witness it and completely paralyze us if we are intimately connected to it. When we are afraid and feel threatened, compassion is a remedy to calm our minds and soothe our spirits.
The call for compassion is equally as powerful when we catch a glimpse of another human beings’ missteps or acts of ignorance. And there’s certainly plenty of that to feast upon these days. In fact, our own shortcomings cry out for our compassionate heart.
But what is the first response you feel when the calls for compassion come through? Does fear strike your heart when tragedy visits your neighbor or friend? Even if you move past that discomfort, how does compassion express itself to you and through you?
It is a human reaction to want to turn away from pain whether it is our own or others. It can be a conflicted state where you feel both driven to comfort another out of love and at the same time run for the hills because the thought of what they are going through scares you to death.
At times, it can seem next to impossible to feel compassion for someone who is behaving in ways that we perceive as harmful or destructive. We would rather reserve our compassionate response for those we feel deserve it. What if we considered that those acting out might actually be the ones who need our compassion the most?
Harmful actions are born of pain and fear. There is no louder cry for compassion.
Are you starting to notice more expressions of compassion in the world? Are you beginning to feel the love just a little bit more? When we make the choice to turn toward the high vibrational energies of love, joy, peace and compassion, our hearts expand and our perspectives shift.
This time of year, although challenging for many, also holds great opportunity for connection and kindness.
May you look through the eyes of gratitude and feel the love this season and always!
In the next episode of Serving Consciously, the last one for 2018, I welcome Ruth Diaz of Returning to Compassion. I hope you can tune in at 12pm PST at www.ctrnetwork.com on Friday December 28. Ruth shares her wisdom, her experience, and her heart in this energized conversation. Compassion ~ what a powerful way to end the year and prepare our spirits for 2019!
Meet Ruth Diaz
Ruth Diaz is a counselor, organizational consultant, and founder of Returning to Compassion, a social movement and organizational consulting center that has an active presence online and on the ground. Returning to Compassion is here to support the world in remembering the word “human” as an opportunity instead of an excuse. Ruth has worked in a variety of roles within both organizational and private settings throughout her career and brings her wisdom as a public speaker, psychotherapist, and organizational trainer by teaching a relationship model that shows us how to return to a sense of belonging and connection when we find ourselves in any and all stages of conflict and disconnect. The Returning to Compassion model explains the well-known drama triangle in a new way to include the role of the bystander and how human emotions are more connecting than we were taught to believe.
The model is an eye-catching visual that at first strikes most people as a four-leaf clover instead of a map on Compassion. The first layer of the model, that explains scarcity (or a belief that there is “not enough”) started to formulate in Ruth’s mind as early as 2006 when Ruth was working at a 900 bed homeless shelter in New York City. In 2015 the visual version that shows how we go from scarcity to abundance (and back again!) was completed while Ruth was working in an inpatient psychiatric hospital with those who were having such a difficult maintaining safe boundaries with their bodies and others around them that they were being held against their will. The model, which identifies roles like bully/victim and hero/bystander, gave children and other adults at the hospital the chance to stay conscious of their emotions and notice how their feelings were impacting their experience with each other. It shows how our emotions are actually connecting us with each other even if we feel like there is a disconnect.
The children’s ward helped develop the new roles they wanted to choose consciously and gave each of them symbols. For example, the villain or bully is reframed as a challenger and reminds all of us that when we feel frustrated we get to remember to use the clarity of our discomfort to creatively offer the bite-sized pieces to those we feel conflicted around. These conscious challenges can bring us all back to our hearts. The villain or bully was given the symbol of the spiral because the spiral captures our focus and helps us come back to our center.
Ruth spends her time these days working with a variety of groups and leaders who are practicing interpersonal resiliency and striving to return to compassion within and throughout their lives in every way. Ruth’s vision is to bring this model to the world at a level where every human being can easily access it and adapt it to their culture and language.
Wishing you a Compassionate Heart as you reflect on this year lived and anticipate next year’s adventures!