For the last week or so, I’ve felt less than compassionate towards others and that has not left me feeling very pleased with myself. Most people would describe me as a very compassionate person and I’ve always delighted in that because, well….who wouldn’t want to be known for such a gracious quality? But any professional human knows that we are not all that we or others hype us up to be on Facebook, at the networking event, in the church lobby, etc. So, I really need to drop some truth and get my bitchy attitude off my chest and hopefully out of the atmosphere.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments when I’ve been sitting with someone else’s struggles or pain either from afar or in person and thought “I’m sorry, were you talking? I was having trouble hearing you over the sound of my heart shattering into 4,627,331 pieces over my own troubles.” Nice, huh? It’s not really that I don’t care about them, it’s that, in that moment, I’m not fully aware that I’m giving all or most of my energy to my own hurts and fears, which will only expand them. I’ve overcome many heartbreaking and frightening situations in life and it’s not so much the situations themselves that can potentially leave me feeling like I have forgotten how to care. It’s really about the disconnect from the source of all good things (I call him God) that has brought me to those moments when I just don’t know how to care about anything else but ME. It’s harder when you are in your own crisis to step outside of it and see other people’s needs. When you feel ignored or stuck, when you are standing in a shit storm of fear and worry, when you feel shamed and humiliated by where you are in life, it can shut down compassion faster than an Air Supply song could wreck a make out session.
Ironically and thankfully, what we need most has a way of finding us at the perfect time and help came rushing in right before I got knocked off my ass by a Tsunami of self-pity and apathy that I could see coming right at me. I am a part of a group called Synergy Circle that is led by Magic Maker and founder of Joy Rising, Trish Kapinos. This is a group of Goddesses with hearts wide open who are on a mission to create more abundance for everyone and to raise the vibration and consciousness on this big, beautiful planet. I was already soured by the fact that I was not able to join in on the monthly call we had yesterday and it was all going downhill fast from there. But when I played back the recorded call, I got exactly what I needed simply by listening in on these brilliant, wise women. And that’s probably what God was after: “Shut up and listen, Karen…my heart is broken too and I am watching my children suffer in ways you will never have to know about, so get over yourself and let me pour some beauty over your bitterness.”
And shortly into the call, I got the message I needed: The question was asked “Where are you finding difficulty being compassionate towards yourself? As I pondered that thought, Trish interjected something that hit me exactly as what I imagine a throat punch would feel like: “If you aren’t sure where you are not showing compassionate to yourself, just take a look at where you are not willing to show compassion towards others.” OUCH.
As I sat there thinking about my recent case of apathy, I cringed at the irony of how everything I do revolves around pulling people out of that very ditch and replacing it with passion and purpose. Apathy is a murderous emotion and I have often failed to delight in people who show up bleeding indifference all over themselves and others. I tend to get jacked up and vigilant towards apathy and the path of rationalizations it can lead us down…rationalizations that send us chasing things that don’t really mean anything to us and that take us away from our truth. But here I sit, smothering my heart with lackluster thoughts that are killing one of my best qualities. So, Trish’s question forced me to chase after the root of where my lack of compassion was growing from and it literally only took about 60 seconds to get there (That’s the beauty of powerful questions! They get you where you want to go and often rather quickly).
I figured out that I have been afraid of heaping any more pain on my heart – my own pain or someone else’s. I have taken on some heavy loads, including other people’s stuff, and that just never works for anyone. Despite my awareness of this, I have not always known how to care without getting sucked in or carrying other people’s crosses. So I have been running from it altogether. Brilliant. I have been spending so much energy trying to hold some of my hurts in that I am rapidly losing real estate to hold space for others. I’ve never been afraid of going into the dark, painful places with other people or even with myself. I have found myself avoiding it more for the sake of being able to function and do what I need to do in life without falling apart every other hour. Humans do things like that. Humans can grow apathetic because they just don’t want to hurt anymore and when we disconnect, there is nowhere else to take the pain, the disappointments, the shame, the anger, etc. Humans do these things…humans like ME and like the ones I have been witholding compassion from. Now that nasty little magnifying mirror was being held right in my face, like a sticky reminder note: “Don’t get it twisted, Karen. You are not more enlightened or wise or passionate than your clients…you ARE your clients. How’s that for compassion?”
In the midst of all the chaos that turned my attention from the creator of compassion itself, I have somehow forgotten that, as professional humans, we are not as apathetic as we might pretend to be. We do care. We can’t help it – it’s who we are. But caring without connection is like a plant without water or sunshine. We can’t grow that gift by avoiding the elements. We only choke and wither…and then we die. So, today I’m choosing life. I’m coming at the rain with an open mouth and outstretched arms and I’ll gladly bogart as much Vitamin D as I please. There’s enough for everyone.