Do you struggle with compassion? I've typically thought of myself as a compassionate person but lately I've been challenged to think that maybe I'm getting the compassion thing all wrong. For me a lot of the time "compassion" is fueled by guilt, poor boundaries and a sense of "should". I confuse compassion with being available or even coerced into doing things I don't want to do, with time I don't have and energy that would be better used elsewhere. I replace the things I feel moved to do with things that I feel I have to do. I notice myself being motivated less by love and more by fear. Instead of asking "how will this bless them?" I ask "what will they think of me if I don't?". I keep moving and doing and acting but it leaves me empty at the end of the day and even resentful sometimes.
The problem with this is that it is not sustainable and really this guilt fueled pseudo-compassion only serves me. Compassion gives life. There is nothing in the world like seeing a need, recognizing you can be a part of meeting that need and then working like crazy to do so. When at the end of a 18 hour day you fall into bed with a smile on your face looking forward to waking up and starting all over again. I know what this life giving compassion feels like in my life, which is why it's not difficult to see that I've strayed far from that pure understanding and have bought into a cheap, imposter compassion that's mostly about me and how hard I'm working to help.
Thoughtful living is heavily rooted in compassion. If I buy fair trade chocolate chips out of guilt I'll buy them when I see them or it's convenient. But if I buy with compassion I'll drive to the other side of town for those chocolate chips because I'll be thinking about the producers of that product and how this small thing for me is life changing for them. Guilt is draining, compassion is filling. Guilt tells me I can't say no. Compassion helps me look for ways to say yes! This year one of my goals is to practice real compassion. To make a commitment to caring for others and acknowledging I'm never going to care for others well if I'm not compassionate with myself. I want to say no with a smile knowing that I chose best over good. I want to wake up excited about opportunities, not obligations.
What about you? Is this an area that you struggle or is there something else you're working on viewing differently this year?