True Compassion: How to Re-write the Fear of “Not Enough”
Compassion is something I only really discovered in my twenties: Of course I’d heard of the concept in Psychology and the self-help arena, but it didn’t really make sense to me until I began trying to access it in those daily moments.
I grew up with a certain set of stories about the outside world. That’s not uncommon, but when I left home I noticed the discrepancies: the things which didn’t quite add up with that perception.
Common themes of that worldview?
- Nice people never get anywhere in life
- You mustn’t give until you know you have enough
- There’s always a ‘catch’
- People who give money or time away are dying, searching for retribution after being bad, or just “stupid”
However, when I left home, I began to give. I found generosity, I found support and I gave it. I purged my wardrobe, some of my unloved items… I gave money to a few new charities and I began to see that this could work: A world in which people were kind could possibly work.
The following year, I delved into the research of Buddhist teachings on compassion, truth and peacemaking. I went to Buddhafield Festival, working the 6am cafe shift in exchange for my ticket; where the theme was “abundance.” On everyone and everything having more than enough.
I began helping out at an Anger Management course and I saw red for what I believe is the first time in my life. In order to understand the worldviews around generosity, I had to really face my views on humanity.
I questioned and cried. I felt pain of my beliefs not making sense. I felt unsafe in this world which didn’t align with what I’d always thought. I raged. I shouted. And then I broke through.
I began to wonder if all those “hippy thinkers” as someone in my family calls them, were right. Could compassion be a natural human state; is it our natural state?
When you see people with dementia, those who have completely reset and forgotten that they have any duties, that they should worry about their memory; they’re often lovely people.
“Hello, it’s nice here, are you enjoying it?”
“Who dear? It’s a lovely day outside, come and sit with me.”
There’s this state of undeniable openness in children and in those who’ve lost their conditioning. No biases, no fears. Just… kindness.
This isn’t the case in every situation, but in so many of those core states: where we aren’t being watched, haven’t been conditioned differently, or aren’t acting out of fear or pain…
Humans offer support. They see someone struggling and go over to ask if they’re okay. Toddlers are great for learning about human behaviour. Even watching how humans treat animals can inform this world-view that we are compassionate.
We value other beings. Because deep down, we recognise that we all have value. We have worth.
Sometimes, I still have to deal with my old labels, and with those old emotions. I have a lot of pent up frustration and anger that sometimes re-surfaces without warning. We all experience feelings. We all have a history of triggers, of conditioning. We were all taught about how the real world was by our care-givers.
These relapses often take that old form of depression; and I forget to have faith in compassion.
I especially think about my future; about how I want to teach my kids love and compassion; but then they’ll get walked over and shocked when they see the “truth” of human conditioning. If I raise them in a non-violent, caring, abundant space; will they cope with the times when they don’t have a enough, or see pain and suffering for the first time?
I worry about shielding some imaginary children in away that won’t cause harm eventually. And each time I come out of that state and remember the faith aspect of compassion. The courage.
Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
“If it’s innate in me, it will be in them. They’ll find it.”
And as I re-surface, I remember that my partner grew up being told and experiencing his share of poverty, of prejudice, of poor education — but had a loving and devoted family life which kept him stable. It’s possible to raise an aware and understanding person who has lived in good experience.
We just need to come back, to reflect on lessons and allow the fear to speak. Then we thank it for some valid points, and come back to the compassion. To the courage. The belief that this will pass, and that we can change.
Here’s to the human possibility of changes.
Katy-Rose helps questing seekers, lost adventurers and helping professionals to build up a resilience toolkit so they can get clear on the path to complete their personal quest, with the strategies to be productive, avoid overwhelm and keep burnout at bay.
Why? Because many of us are taught algebra and about local geography landmarks, yet no-one is equipped in schools or the workplace with the skills to manage the doubts, the pressures and the uncertainty of moving through this life; let alone doing so while feeling empowered and fulfilled.