"Little hinges swing big doors." Sometimes when we are curious about ourselves after a long pause it can feel as if we have opened a long-sealed vault. We may find it filled with treasures. Sometimes it's radio silence. If we remain curious the silence never lasts very long. When we begin to feel safe clarity comes...one step at a time like clues in a mystery or perhaps in one large masterpiece it takes hours, days, weeks, or months to fully absorb. Often we have feelings about what we have come to know. Sometimes judgments. This is when the next "C" of Self Leadership can be very helpful to apply: Compassion.
There is a lot to be said about compassion. If you consider yourSelf 'woke' you have been learning the nuances of what it means to be compassionate with yourSelf and others. If you are new to this allow me to distinguish compassion from nearby emotions.
Compassion says; "I am with you..."
Empathy says; "I am feeling what you are..."
Sympathy says; "I know what you are feeling, I have felt it too..."
Pity says; "I am aware but feel superior..."
It may be easier to try these on looking toward your relationships with 'other.' Maybe you can clearly sense "knowing" how your friend who is going through a divorce feels because you've been there too." <---Sympathy. Maybe you remember a time you felt pity toward someone because you believed their circumstance was their fault. <---Pity. Maybe you even recall a time when you felt physically ill alongside a family member struggling with severe disease. <---Empathy.
Compassion is walking alongside your friend acknowledging their emotions. Being present with an open heart, authentically.
Can you recall a time when all you had to do is BE with someone? There was nothing you really needed to DO?
Now apply this to yourSelf. When you allow yourSelf the space to be curious with your inner being you can often be turning toward details of your life you may prefer to forget. You may encounter what we can call 'difficult emotions.' It is at this time the skill of self-leadership that can be a very helpful balm is compassion. Being with yourSelf. Not escaping. Compassion allows you to sit in the vault that curiosity led you to with openness and acceptance. It's often at this time when our difficult emotion shifts to something else. And by 'being with' (compassion) we have 'made it through.'
Not all experiences in the vault are difficult. It just happens that these are the ones in which we most need compassion.
Here are some inquiries to keep with you when you enter the vault;
How can I be a good friend to mySelf right now?
What does it mean to be with mySelf in this moment?
How can I open my heart to this?
Stay tuned for next month where we'll explore another of the Self Leadership C's.