Last Tuesday evening I was having an interesting discussion with a colleague about compassion. My friend is on her own compassion journey and she says, “You seem to make progress, figure it out and then bam! Something comes up and you have to really decide to be compassionate! Suddenly it requires effort to be compassionate. The situation tests your values and you stumble on your path.”

Yes, being compassionate seems so easy at times – especially when you can visually see the person in pain and suffering. When the pain scale is obviously a 9.5 on a scale of 1 – 10. When we see videos of natural disasters such as our fires in Texas and floods in the Northeast. Extending compassion becomes much more difficult when we begin to wonder if a person deserves our compassion – that in some way they have not earned our compassion and thus we hold back on acts of kindness.

Compassion is not a reward. Yes, sometimes we have to triage our compassion for those that are suffering more, as in emergency situations. Healthcare providers must quickly analyze who receives treatment first, but ideally, no one goes without a compassionate connection. But, perhaps we don’t always see the emotional or physical pain scale measure of 1-7. Those pains of life that can make us uncomfortable yet we carry them, hide them, and show our best self so no one sees our suffering. Yet we do suffer. Each us. In different ways and measures. No one is a true zero always.

So just for today, let’s ask ourselves:

Do I find myself withholding compassion to others?

If so, why do I withhold compassion?

Am I comfortable extending compassion to those that I cannot see are in pain?

Does someone have to be a physical pain for me to feel compassion?

How can I open my heart to the invisible pain?

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