Sometimes being compassionate means practicing “self-compassion.” What does that mean? It means being kind, considerate and forgiving to yourself, so that you stop allowing others to mistreat you.
In the book I’m reading called Advice Not Given by Mark Epstein, he describes this as “idiot compassion” or compassion without wisdom. It’s what happens when we stay in abusive relationships and we confuse forgiveness with tolerance. Or when we allow someone with an addiction to continue to take advantage as we confuse supporting with enabling.
In the midst of being compassionate, we need to remember to love ourselves. And sometimes loving ourselves must be in the form of protecting ourselves.
I just came from a massage and upon arriving, I was so disoriented, knotted up, and in real physical pain that I could barely mount the table. When my intuitive therapist asked who was throwing arrows, I knew immediately what had happened – what I had allowed to happen.
When we are actively practice forgiveness and love and compassion, we frequently forget about ourselves. Yes – when we give these to others, we receive in return, in most cases. But sometimes not. And sometimes we find ourselves giving to the point of depletion. No one person should deplete our resources. When we allow just one person, or one stressful situation to consume our compassion, what happens to all the others in our lives who deserve the same? When we fail to create and enforce boundaries, we don’t just hurt ourselves, we rob others who we also love of our patience, our presence, and our peace!
Alternatively, when set and enforce personal boundaries, we are still actively practicing compassion, compassion that includes us – the giver of compassion – in the scope of who is receiving compassion. When we do that, we are able to give without guarding. Compromised compassion hurts. Mindful compassion feels like sunshine. Follow the light.