Having a Compassionate Nature

Acting in a way that is consistent with our deepest values, like love, justice, respect, health, equality and so on, makes us feel good. It can support us to have a sense of purpose, to participate fully in life. And let's face it, we are all trying our best as human beings, under the conditions life has dealt us, with this culture, this country, this day and age.

So why can it hurt to really care? The reason caring deeply can be stressful is because when you really care about someone, or something, you are also highly attuned to the pain of that person or cause. You witness the suffering. You listen to it, you hear it, you feel it. This is the magnificence of empathy. If we feel the pain, we can be motivated to do something about it. This is more than empathy, it’s empathy plus loving action - and this is compassion. So witnessing the pain out there, in others and the world is a necessary ingredient for knowing how best to respond and to respond effectively. To do that works.

To sustain our compassionate nature, we too need tending to. We must try to meet our own needs also. If they are neglected or deprioritised, then the stress of witnessing pain and the demands of the situation will start to exceed our coping resources. That’s why we are so prone to going through burnout, compassion fatigue and disconnection. Basically we drop out, psychologically and physically. And this really hurts. It’s like a a double whammy for people who typically consider themselves compassionate at heart. It is during those times that we especially need self-compassion and care.