C is for Compassion

It is not as if I have not written about compassion before. I have done so a couple of times in Compassion and Courage’s Friend: Compassion. However, I felt inspired to reflect on this spiritual value again for two reasons: the holiday season and the recent tragedies globally involving the deaths of children and adults. The recent tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and at the Chenpeng Village Primary School in the Henan province of China[1] have begun conversations about weapon control and addressing mental health issues domestically and globally. These are the topics most frequently addressed by the media and on social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, surrounding these and similar tragic events in our world.
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To agree or not agree, that is the question.

So here is my question for this week? What are you choosing to agree to and what are you choosing not to agree to any more? I have been spending a lot of time the last several months, well maybe years now, reflecting on what I agree to and what I use to agree to and no longer do and what I don’t agree with. Perhaps what got me thinking about this recently are conversations with my students, who even at the beginning of the semester, are comparing themselves to others in the class and assuming that they are inferior to their peers. What I have been saying, well actually typing, as this is an online class, is that you have to agree you are less and that someone else is more to feel inferior. Others may treat you as if you are inferior, but unless you agree that you are inferior, you are not. How many times in your life have others tried to make you feel inferior? Ok, now how many times have you agreed with them in your mind? How many times have you told yourself that you are not enough of something or too much of something?
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Have we got it twisted?

Henri Nouwen, in his book Living a Sacred Life in a Secular World, talks about how we have somehow managed to get our hearing and listening skills twisted. When someone says something negative, disparaging, or disaffirming to us we accept it as if it is the “gospel.” We rarely question the intent or the truthfulness of what they said to us. On the other hand, when someone pays us a compliment, our critical thinking skills seem to kick in, and we wonder what that person wants, why did they say that, why are they lying to me and cross-examination their affirmation as if it were a hostile witness being cross examined. What if we reversed this pattern in our life? What would happen if we graciously accepted and internalized that which was served to us with love and suspiciously eyed that which was not before choosing to throw it in the trashcan. Sometimes it seems as if we do this with other aspects of our life as well. So often, I hear people focusing on lack, rather then abundance.
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Which way are you leaning?

Several decades ago, a 5-year-old boy named Mikey taught me a very important lesson about emotions. It is one of those lessons, which keeps being brought back to me. I have been reminded of it a number of books that I have read and then again today as I was reading my selection in Denise Linn’s Soul Coaching. The lesson is to lean into the experience, not lean away from it. See all too often when we are going through a challenging time, or a situation that is difficult or causing us discomfort, we tend to lean away from our feelings and emotions. We try to move away from what we are feeling. We try to move away from the pain, the anger, the fear, the discomfort. So rather then feel these emotions, we try to move away from them into a place of constructed neutrality and calm
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