Compassion

A few weeks ago we practiced accepting emotions and riding the wave.  Acceptance primed us for this week’s practice, COMPASSION.

What is compassion anyway? Often when I ask this to a group of educators or parents they respond with, “kindness”, “respect”, and “empathy”. Not exactly. Compassion is different because it requires suffering

Compassion is recognizing suffering in ourselves and in others and taking action to relieve that suffering. 

The problem in our culture is that we spend our whole lives trying to find ways to suppress difficult emotions, distract ourselves from feeling them, and trying to fix them for others. We reward happy feelings and can feel like something is wrong with us if we don’t feel jovial all the time.  We aim to be happy all the time, but how can we be compassionate humans when we suppress the hard stuff, the stuff that we all feel. 

With children, imagine their favorite toy breaks, and they are completely devastated. Our immediate reaction is to go to them and tell them it’s okay, that we will fix it or replace it. We don’t want to see them upset. What unintentional messages does this send them?

  1. Sadness, anger, disappointment is not an okay feeling, we want you to be happy all the time. 
  2. You aren’t strong enough to face this difficult feeling, I will fix it for you. 
  3. Suppress your difficult emotions, rather than accept them as part of life.

The truth is, we are all strong enough to face difficult emotions. And when we do, we build resilience!  In fact, how do we build resilience without learning how to face the most difficult emotions with compassion? 

This week, let’s practice not fixing. Instead offer our warm presence when someone is facing a difficult emotion. 

This week’s practice: 

  1. Notice when you have a difficult emotion. It might be hard to see, it may be hidden by a behavior (exercise, eating, drinking, cleaning).
  2. Try to be still when you notice, find a quiet space, and bring your hands to your heart. 
  3. Just be with yourself and let your feelings flow.
  4. If you have time, write about how you feel as a way to release. 

Note: If you are looking to learn more about a compassion practice, see the Kind Mind Compass.

In the classroom:

  1. Notice how you respond to students when they express emotion. 
  2. If you notice suppressed emotion, remind the students that ALL feelings are healthy and normal and that they are strong enough to face them. 
  3. Offer the Kind Mind Compass as a practice of feeling the most difficult emotions. 

Note: If you are looking to learn more about compassion in your classroom and school, our full SEL curriculum will shift the culture and emotional awareness in your community. Contact us to learn more. 

At home:

  1. Notice how you respond to your child’s big emotions. 
  2. Try not to fix, praise, or shame. Simply be there and listen, allow them to feel what they feel. 
  3. Offer the Kind Mind Compass as a practice of feeling the most difficult emotions. 

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