On Compassion for Others

When it comes to compassion of the self and compassion with other people, for me, it’s been easier to be compassionate with other people than myself.

But something I had first read via Tara Brach said that everybody that you encounter in the day is fully-formed, too. They have their own hopes and dreams and desires and pain and suffering -  they have all of these things, too. And they’re carrying those around with them at that same time you are.

The interaction level with other people may be almost nonexistent. It might be somebody that you see walking down the street as you’re driving by. It might be somebody who’s the cashier at a store. It might be somebody who is asking for money as you walk down the street. But they are full people, too.

I really started to take that in, sit with that and, frankly, just kind of look around at stoplights and look at everybody... it gave me such a different perspective. All these people are just out there living their lives and doing what they need to do or what they have to do or what they want to do.

When I started to see other people as people, that led me to be generally more compassionate and open to the idea of interacting more with strangers - that ties into introversion and social awkwardness, too. I may never understand these people’s pain. I may never hear about it. But acknowledging the fact that it does exist and everybody has it to some degree has that’s been very helpful for me.

This post was excerpted from episode 9 of Designing Yourself, "Embracing the Suffering".