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Where Kindness and Compassion is the Norm

I know the prevalent belief is that everyone is responsible for their own health, life, and well-being. I was heavily influenced by the self-help movement when I was younger, and so adopted a lot of those ideas and practices in order to try and heal from trauma that I endured as young. I very much believe in self-healing and self-empowerment. I have spent most of my life studying it. Yet, the truth and reality is that not everyone can be fully responsible for their own health, life, and well-being. There are always exceptions to the rules that we create. There are many reasons why, and circumstances where, not everyone can fully look after themselves: health conditions; health issues; physical, mental and emotional impairments and limitations; trauma; injuries; accidents; age; etc.

I think that it would be much more helpful if we could shift away from the idea that healing is independent of others and begin to adopt a more compassionate, collective culture of healing that includes and supports everyone in the process of being able to heal. The era of shaming, blaming, labeling, and stigmatizing others for sure has not helped or healed. It served only to dis-empower. When we are in need of care or are dependent in some way on others for care, we are very vulnerable. That vulnerability is easily turned into self-protective and defensive behaviors which only serves to alienate, isolate, and prevent people from healing and feeling better.

It took everything I had to get to where I am today. It took everything I knew how to get here. I was alone in my suffering for many years. I wasn’t sure that I would get through it. Somehow I did, but not without leaving a profound and indelible imprint. A part of that imprint left me feeling deeply disheartened. I could tell you about all the things I had to endure as a result of having to rely on others for care for many years. I could tell you how hard it was to have to rely on others after having been independent and self-reliant my entire life. I could tell you about how shaming stigma can feel. Instead, I want to focus attention on what I learned from this experience about compassion.

That’s why the other part of that imprint is far more powerful. It is an even deeper desire than I had before to share how a holistic approach to healing can really benefit everyone, and that healing really is a collective experience. It is an understanding of our humanity—our wholeness. Healing is holistic in nature. It requires our ability to look at everything. We heal because there is a prevalent belief that supports the idea of our ability to heal and feel better. We don’t heal when there is a prevalent belief that tells us nothing can be done. People don’t heal from trauma, bullying, violence, abuse, hurt, sickness, illness, chronic health problems, injuries, or wounding without compassion from another human being. We heal and feel better because someone else bears witness to our suffering in such a way that helps us to heal. That is compassion personified.

I know this because I would not have come full circle in my own healing journey (despite it being a very solo process), had it not been for someone showing me the level of compassion that I needed. Compassion helped me to drop my defenses and to bring down protective walls so that I could believe in humanity again. I still needed another human being to help me to heal—but I needed a very compassionate human being. Trauma profoundly impacts the way we experience the world and others. It requires a compassionate response.

Getting through my difficult journey left me with a very strong desire to want to help create a world where kindness and compassion is the norm; and, not because it’s the right thing or the moral thing to do, but because it’s a necessity. I want to live in a world where everyone knows that their life matters even in illness and un-wellness; that they don’t suffer in silence; that they know people actually care; that they know they can count on others should some unforeseen health issue arise; that they know that healing is possible; and, that everyone learns how to be more compassionate with themselves so that defenses are lowered and compassion becomes a natural and everyday expression of our humanity.

Compassion is not about being a do-gooder. It is not trying to fix others. It is not ego-based. It is not dogmatic. It is not interfering. It is not about rescuing or saving others. It doesn’t really require much effort. Compassion is simply the genuine, heartfelt response to care for ourselves and to care about other people without expectation of reward. Compassion is a demonstration of our inter-connectedness and our humanity. So many people need to heal. So many people are suffering and hurting. So many people need compassion. We are really only a belief away from creating a world where kindness and compassion is the norm. We just have to collectively believe in it.

Copyright © 2015. Sylvia Carlson. All Rights Reserved.

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