Compassion is a powerful gift that we are ALL capable of Giving and Receiving… if we choose to.
The etymology of “compassion” is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” Compassion is being moved by someone’s vulnerability and suffering (suffering with them) with a strong desire to help. It does not judge. It’s like the lovingkindness and total acceptance that Awesome parents have for their child.
It’s our ability to feel with someone else that empowers us to help others manage distressing experiences with grace. This is a gift that heals the people around us and when turned inward, enables us to heal ourselves too.
Exploring the Shadow Side of Compassion
I’ve been consciously journeying with Compassion for a year and a half and in that time I’ve felt its power and light but I’ve also seen it’s shadow side.
Coaches, healers and anyone with an empathic nature should particularly consider this. It could be a game changer for your life and your business.
The Rescuer and Fixer
One shadow of Compassion is seeing suffering in others and trying to rescue or fix things for them – taking responsibility for that which is not yours. When you spend your time FIXing or saving others, you are denying them the growth opportunity that is before them. Ultimately, you dis-empower them. According to Brianna Wiest, helping too much, and struggling to let people self-heal is one of the 12 signs that you might be the Jungian Wounded Healer Archetype.
The helicopter parent is the perfect example of the rescuer playing out. By not letting the child experience failure, the child becomes stunted in her growth and evolution toward being an independent adult.
As coaches, we should be guiding people to find their own answers and not “fixing” at all, but in reality, this is a very fine line and can easily and understandably get crossed. We must become aware of the line and discover our own boundaries as professionals and clearly communicate this line to our clients.
Do you tend to take on other people’s problems as if they are your own?
For years I’d been unconsciously taking responsibility for that which is not mine with my family and in my career without realising it. I recently discovered the root cause. I had never realised that my parents’ divorce was so traumatic for my 4-year-old self.
How Does One Become a Rescuer or Fixer?
Look back at your childhood.
When was the first time you rescued or tried to fix someone else’s problem for them? When did you first carry a burden that was not yours to carry?
As a kid, I witnessed my Mom and Dad separate. I was about 4 years old so I was unable to fully comprehend what was going on. To me, the two people I loved most and who were my whole world, were no longer talking. I felt the suffering of both my parents and love them both – sensing their suffering hurt. I was very sad and desperately wanted them to get back together. None of it made sense to my toddler-self.
The only thing I could comprehend at such a young age was that it must be my fault. I created a belief that this bad thing was somehow my fault. So I took responsibility for this problem which belonged to my parents, but the belief was locked in. I spent the next several decades collecting evidence that I needed to carry other people’s problems like they were my own.
Let me know if this resonates with your story.
So What to Do Instead?
In a quiet moment with yourself, through meditation or journaling, symbolically hand the burden back to the person with whom it belongs. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Let go. Set it free. Restore your Compassion back to Balance.
The other person/people should not be involved. This is about healing your viewpoint.
Tips for Cultivating Self-Compassion
Cultivating Self Compassion is critical for all coaches, healers, mentors and therapists.
If you need help, here are a few tips of how to strengthen your self compassion muscles…
- Go within. See the suffering that lies within you. Acknowledge and accept your wounds.
- See yourself whole – as you were born – in the image of God / Source / Light.
- Pay attention to triggers. Connect with your true feelings about your triggers. Discover what you are avoiding that needs to be felt. Face sadness and shame. Accept your emotions.
- Tune into the expansion and growth that comes from letting others carry their own burden
- Savour the ride of living in full integrity in all things – no compromises
- Enjoy, cherish, recharge in the space between things.
EXERCISE - Time to Remember
What are you holding on to that’s not yours?
How can you symbolically give it back?
I invite you to hold yourself with the same devoted loving compassion that you would give to a pure innocent child. Hold her within a strong mother and father energy and love. See her as the pure and whole perfect being that she is. And tell her the things she needs to remember about her as a beautiful, perfect child and being.
Compassion teaches us that we all have the Divine Child within us. No one needs to be fixed – just reminded of who they really are.
Thank You, Seat of Compassion
For always being in me as an expression of compassion for others’ vulnerability and suffering.
For helping me see how I have tried to take responsibility for others in the past – to save them – and how that does not serve them nor me. That pattern repeated over decades put my soul in a loop of depression. This loop has now been broken – THANK YOU.
For guiding me to also have compassion for myself and my own suffering.
For keeping me from judging my suffering as greater or lesser than another’s and accepting my suffering for what it is without judgement.
For inspiring the courage within me to seek out and experience my true passions and FEEL the joy they bring me.
For awakening and grounding my inner child and letting her guide my innate knowing/wisdom/inspiration and which, when followed, enables all things to flow and unfold in Divine Timing.