Years ago when my late hubby, Steve, was still alive and I was just beginning my healing journey, we were arguing. It was a beautiful day at the beach. We were sitting in a little café but neither one of us could enjoy it. I have no idea why we were bickering. But what is still so clear to this day is that all of the sudden a picture flashed in my mind. It was Steve as a little boy. I very clearly saw “little Steve” say to me, “Please stop beating me up. I’m already having a bad day.”
That message almost knocked me out of my chair. I literally felt myself gasp. Here was this big 250-pound gorilla of a man, and he was hurting.
That moment changed my life.
From that point forward I began seeing people as little children who were in pain. No matter how mean or gruff they could be, or how difficult, the haunting message I received that day at the beach taught me something that will stay with me for the rest of my life: how to see through the eyes of compassion.
We never know what’s going on with someone. We have no idea if they’re sick, if a relationship just ended, or whether they’re struggling at work. What you can be sure of, however, is if that person isn’t being kind and loving, there is something hurting inside of him or her.
Is there someone in your life that you’ve been struggling with? Think about your family, friends, boss or co-workers. Now try to imagine that person as a little kid. See if you can open your heart to see what is going on inside of that child.
If you’re a parent, this even works for your children. Instead of trying to control their “wrong” behavior and make them “be good,” move past their resistance to the pain they must be going through. Create a conversation and ask what’s hurting. Or simply say, “I’m sorry you’re struggling.”
Now try this same exercise on yourself. When you see that you’re in a negative space, instead of spiraling down and beating yourself up, imagine yourself as a little kid who is hurting. Instead of judging yourself, see through the eyes of compassion.
I don’t know about you, but it is often easier to have compassion for others than for myself. But here’s the cool part about loving yourself this way. The more compassion you have for your pain, the more you’ll have for others.
Growing up, I had compassion for the “underdogs.” If I felt someone was struggling in school, I often reached out to him or her. However, if a person was hateful or mean to me, I had no compassion whatsoever! That’s when I would lash back at the person or completely shut out him or her. Back then, I would have just as soon walked over a person who was mean than try to be nice, much less see with compassionate eyes.
Now my life is different. Yes, I still have moments every now and then when I feel the hairs on my neck stand up and I feel as if I want to put my fists up. But to be quite honest, I can’t remember the last time that happened. Since I made a decision to have compassion for myself, I have more compassion for everyone else.
How do you react to people when they are lashing out? I’m not talking about if someone is abusive to you. That’s when you need to pull away and take care of yourself. I’m talking about those moments when someone is being hateful or mean. Can you remember a time when your day was going okay and then someone said or did something to ruin it? Have you ever considered that maybe it had nothing to do with you? Maybe, just maybe, that person’s little kid inside was lashing out in pain and you took it personally.
I know I’ve seen a lot of women shocked during my classes over the years when I guide them through meditations to look at pain they’re holding onto. They are usually hurt, angry or frustrated with a person or feel unloved due to some past interaction. I’ll have the ladies intuitively look at the other person’s inner child. More often than not, each lady discovers that the person’s negative actions had nothing to do with her. The other person’s inner child was simply struggling and lashing out at the world. And with that realization comes freedom. The pain slips away when you know it had nothing to do with you in the first place.
Think about the pain you hold onto and how it shuts you down to joy. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you had never taken that on? Wouldn’t it be incredible to skip the pain and regret when something negative happens? This is why it’s so important to have compassion for others, as well as yourself. When you see through the eyes of compassion, you send love to the pain. You no longer make others’ pain your own.
We are in trying times right now in our world. Everyone is feeling the stress and pressure. More than ever, we each are needed to see through the eyes of compassion…for others AND for ourselves.