Compassion… Is That What This Is?

03 Mar
Compassion… Is That What This Is?

Cause I thought it was just being nosy.

Those times when I would ask, “what’s wrong?” To an acquaintance that was having a moment alone. I would just break into the personal space bubble and butt right in, and then be a bit surprised that they would talk. Nosey, right? … or if I found myself watching a commercial about 3rd world children just waiting for my donation and sobbing… Uhhh… I figured THAT just meant I was overly emotional.

Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering, and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though they are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

I find the meanings are close enough that I mix em up. So I do a little research, and I find this:

“While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathycaregiving, and feelings of pleasurelight up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people.”

i think to myself, “that’s it! It’s why I get so interested in peoples well-being! I love to bond!” I love to help out, being a bit nosey, I guess, but I do love the side-effect of the bonding.

and it explains my dad so well. That man could bond like no other. He had a way of letting me know that he heard what I was saying, understood where I was coming from, and wanted to assist me in any way that he could, even if it was a shoulder to cry on.

i remember one time when I was in a jam. A real jam. Like, i just screwed up, made a mistake and it changed my life-course jam.  Instead of yelling, or pulling the I-am-so-disappointed-in-you card that so many parents do, he looked at me and then held my hand. He said,”little one, I can see you are hurting inside. I am hurting With you. It’s gonna be ok.  This will be scary for a bit, but you are strong and you will get through it. You can lean on me when you need to.”

and then he hugged me while I cried.

He’s gone now, but he gives me a template to work with. And I realize that compassion is abundant in the world. So many times, people choose to listen and care, instead of moving on down the road. why, I even have a friend, Jade, that showed compassion to her husband last night. She didn’t have to, but she did.

In fact, the cool part about compassion, and what makes it compassion, is the choice to engage. It has to be a choice. The option to be involved in easing someone’s pain is what compassion is about. If it was forced on us, well, that would be a chore, wouldn’t it? And where is the fun or bonding in that?

i think that is the parting thought in all this: compassion is a choice. A feeling that is strong in us, and that makes us want to be nosey, but in a good way. Few of us can see a need and not want to fill it. It is a desire to make things better.  I know I will keep on being nosey, and may be waved off sometimes, but that’s ok. It’s a risk I am willing to take.


3 responses to “Compassion… Is That What This Is?

  1. lingeringvisions by Dawn

    March 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    I love your dad!



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