Certainly, our current political state worldwide makes compassion an important topic right now, but I am also drawn to this topic in a far more personal way. Compassion and kindness are very important to me, and I try to embody those concepts in my own life. We always taught our kids that treating others with kindness and respect is the most important thing in life, and living with chronic illness has only strengthened that belief.
I have always felt a strong pull to reach out to others and improve the world around me. Living with ME/CFS for 15 years, much of that reaching out has been focused on wanting to help others suffering with chronic illness, who face similar challenges to my own. I spend a large portion of my limited time/energy to help others, through this blog, Twitter, e-mail, and Facebook groups. While most people are grateful for help and support, my efforts are not always met with compassion and kindness in return. Several times - including very recently - I have offered information, support, or compassion and been met with anger, bitterness, a vitriol that is hard to fathom, and sometimes even a personal attack.
Intellectually, I understand that some people struggle more to accept this life of chronic illness and may be stuck in the "anger" stage of grief, but it still hurts. My response is often to try even harder to get through to them, to offer help, to provide compassion, but that often results in more hurt for me. Sometimes, you just have to give up (a hard lesson for me).
So, with this on my mind this morning, I found a TED talk by Krista Tippett about compassion that I enjoyed. It's all about what compassion really means and why we need it in our lives. This is an important lesson for our world right now, both politically and personally.
Two points Krista makes were particularly resonant for me:
- It is sometimes hardest to be compassionate toward those we are closest to (definitely true!)
- Suffering can actually make a person more compassionate, a fact that I recently wrote about in my article, The Hidden World of Invisible Suffering.
Have you ever offered someone compassion and been rebuffed or even attacked in return? How did you cope with that?
Hope you are enjoying this lovely weekend - supposed to be almost 70 degrees here today!