So I just did a compassion exercise and it was interesting to see how I reacted to it. (Here is the link if you’d like to look more into it yourself: http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/loving_kindness_meditation)
I’ve discovered that giving and receiving compassion from others can be surprisingly difficult. Although having compassion towards all of humanity or neural people in general is slightly easier, giving and receiving compassion from those around me or that I personally know, especially those closest to me, can be upsettingly difficult. As soon as I try to do it, a wall comes up, and fear renders me no longer able to be compassionate, making me cold and distant. A door, a possibility to be kinder and nicer to someone, is shut in that instant the fear kicks in.
The fear most likely comes from the human desire to protect oneself. In relation to a stranger, there is always the possibility that being nice to someone will not turn out favorably. They might yell at you, there could be some awkwardness, they might actually want to be alone at that moment, or maybe your intention is to be nice, but instead, you end up accidentally insulting or upsetting them; the last of which is the scariest for me. There is a sense of unpredictability. For me at least, the mere possibility that I might be the source of pain or sadness or anger for someone really kills me. And so, I simply end up avoiding compassion in the first place for people I’m not sure how will respond or are giving me the vibe of “leave me alone”, who might actually be the people who need compassion the most. However, of course all of this mental hypothesizing and circling and worrying might be complete bullshit. There is no way to know how people will react, and after all, kindness and compassion are positive emotions and unlikely to be met with negative reactions, since they are emotions that are highly sought after by all humans. All humans want to be happy (or what ever your interpretation of that is) and should well receive anything that will make them happy, including you being nice to them. This fear of a negative reaction to compassion is highly irrational. However, this fear, like any fear, is unlikely to go away easily, so it should be met with, first and foremost, to the best of your ability, kindness to yourself for having this very human fear. Always keep this in mind.
On the other side, in relation to those close to you, there is always this underlying sense of doubt, or rather intense skepticism. Do the people who say they love me or act like they love me, really love me? Is their kindness true? This comes from deeply set anxiety and self-doubt. Most people – including myself – at some time in their life, will have the feeling that they are not good enough. This feeling might then spread to encompass relations with other people. Am I good enough for this person? Why do they even like me? These emotions can sometimes become so commonplace that it can become difficult to take a step back and look objectively at them. Why would anyone lie to me that they love me? Considering that they’re a good person in the first place, there’s no reason for them to lie. They should already be showing to you how much they care about you through their actions, there should be no reason for them to tell you after all. However, low self-esteem will always make it hard for you to really see and accept that there are people who actually care about you. Nevertheless, as soon as you are able to realize your competency (which every single human has by the way) and wondrous existence you should be able to also receive compassion from those closest to you.
Of course, getting to be able to receive and give compassion to anyone and everyone who might pass your way is not a snap of wrist. I’m writing about it because I’m not there yet and it’s extremely frustrating for me. My hope for the world is that everyone can be more compassionate with each other, no matter what the situation; however, I am unable to uphold such a demanding hope for humanity, until I, myself, can prove I can be more compassionate with everyone, no matter what the situation. But being nice everyone is very scary; it puts you in a vulnerable position where you have to take everything that is thrown at you. Being kind is to take off your protective gear and let yourself be stabbed in the heart numerous times until you can soften the heart of another to stop stabbing you.
It’s a risk. I might die. But it’s worth it.
And this is where I end, be kind to each other everyone,