5 Ways to Become More Compassionate Without Feeling Drained

mind relationships Nov 11, 2022

What if I am compassionate with someone and they are judgmental towards me?

What if they behave without compassion towards me when I need it most?

What if I get taken advantage of?

I hear you. Working for 11 years in clinical medicine, I felt this. This is what I concluded from research, my personal experience and client results...

"Compassion is not about their reaction, it's about your actions." 

Compassion is free from attachment and expectation. 

If you frequently feel drained around someone you care about, this video is for you.

Here are 5 ways to become more compassionate:

 

1. Show compassion for the joy of it

Compassion is about relieving suffering for the pure joy of it. The research is consistent. Meditating on compassion increases activation in our brain's joy, reward and care centres - the ventral striatum and medial orbitofrontal cortex.

When you lend a hand to someone this week, focus less on their reaction and more on the 'helpers high'.

 

2. Value the importance of being vulnerable

Vulnerability is strength. Vulnerability demonstrates courage. 

The human experience is characterised by our fallibility and the fact that we all suffer. 

The way people respond to you when you share your suffering gives you vital information. It demonstrates whether you are surrounding yourself with a compassionate circle. 

If you want to become more compassionate, it's essential that you create social circles which espouse the qualities you wish to develop. 

Social contagion is the most powerful motivator for behaviour change. 

This week, be more open and vulnerable with those around you. See how that enables them to open up too and watch how it changes your relationship with them.  

 

3. Be mindful of your body

Embodying an attitude of compassion starts with your body. If you tense your jaw, shoulders and fists when you are trying to be more compassionate, they will feel the disconnect. 

Be mindful of your body and relax your muscles. Enter into that conversation with a calm, connected presence. That alone can provide the safety your loved ones need.  

 

4. Start with self-compassion

If you are starting your compassion journey today, start with the 'Ladder of Compassion'. 

Begin with yourself, then your loved ones, then your friends, then people you do not know and lastly, people you find difficult. 

Often I see clients immediately attempt to be more compassionate with difficult people in their lives before they have truly felt self-compassion. 

This is a recipe for burnout. Understand what compassion means to you on a practical level first, then ripple that out to others. 

This week make a commitment to notice your emotional difficulties with acceptance and act from a place of self-kindness. Schedule 15 minutes of self-compassion time on your calendar today. In that time, meditate, breathe, read or move your body - the choice is yours. 

You do not HAVE to do this, you GET to do it. 

 

5. Be curious, not judgemental

Avoid labels and choose questions. Don't react, respond. 

You've heard these mantras before but, to truly embody compassion you must understand this classic quote from Abraham Lincoln:

"I don't like that man, I must get to know him better."

If you feel negative about someone and it is bothering you, get to know them better. It always makes sense when you curiously and non-judgmentally understand where they've come from. 

This week set an intention to get curious about a negative situation with someone. Ask the question, "What could be going on for them right now?"

And remind yourself, no matter who you are, we all have the same intentions. 

To be happy and peaceful. 

***

Enjoy these practices, and let me know how you get on with them. 

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1 Quote

"Compassion is not about their reaction, it's about your actions."

1 Question

What is your common block to practising more compassion? 

1 Quality

Social intelligence

Show a deep awareness of the motives behind other people's actions. Understand what makes them tick.

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