Compassion 101

May 7th, 2011

Compassion 101
by Dr. Jeanine
© copyright 2007

“Because they are human, they suffer. Those who have a better story, a “healthier” childhood, a more impressive résumé, better looks, connections, or education, suffer. Those who are less fortunate than “me” also suffer. Those who are able or good suffer as do those who are weak or mean.”

(Laurence Boldt The Tao of Abundance 94)


One way to move beyond judgment and into compassion is to remember that suffering is universal. We have all known suffering. If we assume that a sister is suffering and we start our relationship or even the conversation on a note of compassion, we have cut to the chase so to speak. We have already moved beyond many barriers to intimacy.

I often think of human beings as having three identities: public, private and secret. I remember an example from the 80s movie The Big Chill. For those of you who didn’t see it, a handful of college friends reunite for the funeral of their dear college friend. Glen Close’s character, Sarah Cooper, appears to outsiders to be someone who is strong and steadfast at the time of their reunion (public face). With her most intimate group of friends she reveals some deeper and more private feelings about the death (private face). Later, we see her crying alone in the shower, obviously devastated by the loss of her friend. This also helps the audience to gain the insight that the relationship with her deceased male friend was probably profoundly intimate (secret face).

It doesn’t take a doctor of life coaching to help us recognize that it can be a rough world out there. Even if we never see someone’s secret face, let’s remember that they have one. To not acknowledge this might originate from callousness, naiveté or some other form of denial. In the end, we hurt only hurt ourselves if we don’t embrace compassion. After all, when we extend compassion, we are one of the beneficiaries.

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