If you live long enough, you realize that LIFE is pretty even-handed in passing out difficulty, defeat, loss and pain. The thing that makes us each different is the way we own and process tough experiences. Do we compartmentalize suffering and feel victimized or ashamed? Or do we choose to move through pain — indeed, let it move through us — and become soft, warm, open?
My own biases bring me up short sometimes. I project my impatience onto others when I shake my head and dismiss their plight because, after all, they got what they deserved.
A simple mantra that wakes me when I’m judging someone & withholding compassion:
You never know.
Watching the first season of Orange is the New Black really brought that home to me.
Just as strangers know nothing of my backstory — aka struggle, pain, loss, process — I know nothing of theirs. And the longer I live, the more I sense that many people I think I know, don’t share all their demons of disappointment, disillusionment, or defeat.
But I do know this: The more I own and process my demons and pain points the more compassion I find for myself and others.
Here is #5 on my List of Impossibilities
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
In other words, only those who “have found their way out of the depths”, those who process their painful experiences, become compassionate.
It is impossible to be compassionate without knowing & owning our pain.
What else is impossible? I’m sure I’ve missed something. Let me know in the comments! Thank you.