This guest article was written by Sarah Yost, sarahwagneryost.com
I know how it is. You try to take compassionate action. Think about your earth-mates. Ease their suffering. Make a difference.
Maybe you’re boot-strapping a heart-centered business devoted to helping people. Or directing a non-profit. But most of the time you’re stressed out and exhausted. You feel guilty because you’re irritable and don’t feel more generous.
Renewable compassion comes from a deep inner source.
When you give from that place, you have much more to give. Like the 14th century poet, Hafiz, you can be untroubled even when people around you are not. It doesn’t help anyone for you to suffer along with them.
Here’s are 5 things that stand in the way of experiencing the compassion you crave:
Ignoring Your Anger
Anger is a messenger. It’s there to let you know that something needs to change. Ignoring the feeling of anger in order to not be mad will only make it worse. That does not mean that you repeatedly review the reason you’re angry. The only way to grow past it to experience true peace and forgiveness is to go through it. But the way to get there isn’t by ignoring it. When you honor your own emotions and move through them instead of fighting, you’ll begin to experience real peace. When you’re compassionate with yourself first, you’ll learn true compassion toward others.
Compassionate action: Lean in. Ask yourself what your anger has to tell you. What needs to change?
Not Setting Boundaries
Boundaries are your personal limits. They have nothing to do with what other people do. When one of your limits have been crossed, you’ll feel the emotion of anger. This will often start quietly, as an irritation. When someone asks you to do something and you feel annoyed, one of your personal boundaries has been crossed. It’s easy to justify it by telling yourself “it’s no big deal.” However, you’ll then treat that person with annoyance rather than compassion. Compassionate people have boundaries. By saying no to others, regardless of whether you think you have a good enough reason, you preserve your own integrity.
Compassionate action: Notice when your boundaries have been crossed and practice saying no. Even though you may be tempted to push through your feelings of annoyance and irritation, don’t do it. Say no without beating yourself up about it.
Lack of Self Care
You have to take care of the basics in order to take care of others. When your body is cared for, your mind is clear and your spirit is strong, you have a strong foundation to give from. It’s hard to be compassionate when you’re exhausted and bedraggled.
Compassionate action: Tend to the self-care trinity: mind, body and spirit. Make sure your basic bodily needs are met and then tend to your mind and spirit.
Take care of your body. Make sure you have enough movement, rest, hydration and nourishing food.
Take care of your mind: Dissolve negative beliefs. Any belief that stands in the way of you feeling peaceful is a belief that isn’t helpful.
Take care of your spirit: Connect with silence. Practice meditation, connect with people you love, watch animals.
Giving Too Much
Over-giving is when you do more for others than they’re willing to do. If you want someone to get better more than they do, you’re on shaky ground. It’s arrogant to think that they should change and that you know better than they. Your internal compass will let you know when you’re over-giving. When your body gets constricted or you feel annoyed, you’re giving too much. Time to pull back to center and reconnect.
Compassionate action: Get in touch with your inner compass. When you get the message that you’re over-giving, pull back. You can’t be compassionate if you’re running yourself ragged.
Mistaking Compassion for responsibility
The suffering of others can be overwhelming. Humans, animals and ecosystems are struggling. People next to you, in your own home, neighbors. Noticing their pain means that you can feel concern or empathy for them. It doesn’t mean that you have to change them or their situation. It’s arrogant to think you need to. Maybe what they’re experiencing is exactly what they need. If you can help peacefully, do it. If not, trust your compass and send love but focus your energy where you can do it peacefully.
Compassionate action: When you notice suffering, say this Buddhist prayer: May you be well, may you be happy, may you be free from suffering.
Sarah Yost has been a lot of place you’ve been–depressed, drugged-out, aimless. Then she realized there is a better way to be in the world and has spent the last two decades learning how to help people work with their biggest, messiest problems. As a certified life coach she draws on the best techniques from 15 years of healing through massage and yoga and ninja mind cleansing techniques learned from brilliant coaching mentors. She believes that holy messages can be found by embracing and shining light on your darkest parts. Sarah’s coaching practice is devoted to helping creative entrepreneurs clear whatever stands in the way of doing what they really want to do.