“Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.” ~ Pema Chodron
Very often we become so entrenched in our noble efforts of saving the world, helping others, giving advice, and any other charitable cause you can think of that we forget to extend the same level of love and compassion that we show to others to ourselves.
This is often the case for the empathic, spiritually-driven, and energetically sensitive types. Once a person has taken on the mission of helping to awaken humanity and discovers their inner passion that drives them to make the world a better place they may feel that they don’t have time to worry about their own needs.
There is still so much suffering in the world. We can see it everywhere from the nightly news to the lives of our loved ones who have yet to awaken to their true selves and inner magnificence.
For those that feel a true calling to be a way-shower or light bringer, the suffering we sense around us may beg for our attention and draw us away from tending to our own suffering. While this certainly seems to be a noble trait, it can in fact work against us and the mission we are trying to accomplish.
Not only can we not offer true compassion and understanding to others if we have not shown it to ourselves first, but if our sense of self begins to become dependent upon other people needing help from us or, we may find that we subconsciously begin to seek out people who will reinforce this part of our ego.
Unfortunately, when we become entirely too attached to ending other people’s suffering that we become dependent on it to establish our identity, compassion and helping other people becomes just another part of the illusory self that must be dropped.
So how do we find a happy medium between the two? How do we live out our purpose of making the world a better place while at the same time preventing the love and care that we extend for others from becoming an egoic attachment that we are completely dependent upon to maintain our sense of self?
“Love every aspect of who you are and have been unreservedly. Forgive all that you think of as short-comings. Forgive all that you have accepted as judgments from others. Love yourself so much that it spills over to everyone around you. Then you will notice that one who mirrors that for you. Until that moment thank yourself for not getting entangled with less.” ~ Shelly Sullivan
In order to establish a healthy balance of being kind to others and offering a helping hand while at the same time respecting ourselves and our own boundaries we must first take a look at how and why compassion becomes an egoic trait in the first place.
There are several ways that being a “nice person” can manifest as an ego attachment but they all boil down to one cause: we have not yet fully accepted, embraced and unconditionally loved our own selves.
When there is something inside of us that we are unwilling to forgive, accept or love we will begin to seek out people or “causes” that we can get involved in or with that (we believe) will give us the love that we are lacking.
We subconsciously begin to try and fill the void by excessive doing. And for the “nice compassionate person” ego, this manifests as doing for others. Soon we begin to abandon our true self and instead try to become everything to everyone.
A vicious cycle begins. We don’t have unconditional love for ourselves so we find people or charities that we can get involved with that will ‘need’ us. The need to be needed gets established.
At this point, instead of compassion being given from an authentic place, it begins to show from a place of fear. The underlying fear here is, “I need you to need me. I am afraid that if you don’t need me, you will either leave me or will no longer reinforce my sense of who I am, which is a person who is needed.”
This is how energetic ties, and subconscious resentments begin to be formed. Because the help is not being given from a place of sincerity it instead becomes a form of spiritual or psychological manipulation.
We see this many times in the “people-pleaser”, “savior” or “hero” mentality. A complete detachment from the authentic self is established and instead this person becomes focused on getting “love” and validation from other people or causes.
If one finds themselves at the point that they have begin to become dependent upon another person’s needing of them in order to feel “whole”, they must first identify the root fear that is causing the issue.
Usually fear of being abandoned, fear of not being good enough, fear of other people being mad at them (fear of what other people think), are the main fears that will manifest as this issue. Once the fear has been pinpointed the only thing left to do is love it. Surrender to it, accept it and love it.
The more we show unconditional love for ourselves and our perceived shortcomings, we will begin to see that fears begin to go away all on their own. At this point we find that we are no longer giving and helping other people with fear as the motivation but instead are doing it from a place of love.
“Love is forgiving, accepting, moving on, embracing and all encompassing. And if you’re not doing that for yourself, you cannot do that with anyone else.” ~ Steve Maraboli
It is not only important that we take the time to show unconditional love and compassion for our own selves first, it is NECESSARY. We can give to others to the extent that we have given to ourselves.
This means that in order to be the most effective friend, worker, partner, light-bearer or way-shower we absolutely must become completely aware of our own “fears” and tend to them just like we would tend to the needs and fears of another person.
Compassion and kindness from a sincere and genuine place not only makes us happier, and more willing to give but also frees the people in our lives from feeling controlled and manipulated, which makes for healthier relationships all around.