Monday, November 23, 2009

Pity, Compassion, Trust and Selfishness

What is the difference between compassion and pity?

Compassion is based on a belief that both parties in a relationship are equals... that each of their points of view are worthy of regard. Pity includes a feeling of intellectual superiority. We pity our partner who is suffering and see them as being inferior, inept, incompetent or unable to function in some important way. Pity then leads to contempt if our partner is unable to resolve their issue within our time frame. Compassion leads us to offer whatever assistance is appropriate, then allowing our partner the opportunity to solve their issue within their own time frame.

What is the difference between compassion and excusing irresponsible or selfish behavior?

Compassion includes us behaving in accordance with our own values. This does not mean we excuse the irresponsible or selfish behavior of our partner when they have done something that does not agree with their own inner values. We have the responsibility to respect our own and others boundaries. We can feel compassion for the poor choices our partner has made without allowing them to continue to hurt us. We own our power in our relationship and reinforce our boundaries with our partner, telling them what we will and will not accept in a gentle loving manner.

What is the difference between compassion and discerning when it is safe to trust?

When we are compassionate we are able to see our partner as they really are without pretense. We see them with all their vulnerabilities and flaws and can discern accurately what we can realistically expect. If our expectations are on track and we are accurately discerning what is and is not possible, we are less likely to trust inappropriately. Many times we are hurt in relationships because we refuse to acknowledge the flaws of either our partner or ourselves. Our ability to discern when it is safe to trust relies upon our acceptance of reality. Our ability to accept reality relies upon our level of compassion in our relationship. When we feel compassion toward our partner we are able to view them in truth thereby assessing accurately when it is and is not safe to trust.

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