“So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the suffering of another person.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Being compassionate is a trait you can learn, like self-discipline and confidence. Here are some ways to build up your selflessness.
Use your perspective – You know what it feels like to be going through a struggle in a relationship; to be facing financial hardship; or to be dealing with a life-threatening illness in your family. If you haven’t experienced any of these things in-depth or at all, there is something you’ve gone through in your life that has left you desperate for hope and help. Remembering your own feelings will help you empathize with others, which is the first step to showing compassion.
Speak it to feel it- A friend crying about her mother who was recently diagnosed with cancer needs you to vent to, but more than that, she needs comfort, reassurance, and love. Expressing your compassion to someone doesn’t have to be an articulate poem from a Hallmark card. It can be as simple and as heartfelt as, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but it sounds like it takes a lot of strength”, or “I’m so sorry to hear about this. It breaks my heart for you”. You don’t have to be great with words to make an impact.
Actions speak louder than words – A great way to develop your compassion is to show it. This can be as easy as offering to take a hurting friend out to lunch or to get a cup of coffee. You can offer to watch her kids while she takes a much needed break. Even if it has nothing to do with what the person is experiencing, showing that you care by offering to help with something, such as laundry or getting their car washed, will speak volumes.
Help the homeless – We all have busy schedules where spare time is hard to come by. However, charity organizations, non-profits, and homeless shelters usually have very flexible hours for volunteers. Even simply donating your old clothing to a shelter will stir up your compassion. Seeing those less fortunate and being able to help someone in need will arouse the compassion that you’ve always had in your heart.
About Alex Blackwell
Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender, which includes 10 free Peace and Balance tools.
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