Robin Clark | Bay Area Coach & Photographer for Women » Coach & Photographer for Women

Expanding Our Capacity for Kindness and Compassion By Embracing Pain

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How do we expand our ability to be kind and feel compassion for ourselves and others if we’re always busy trying to avoid pain? Lately I’ve been musing on this and noticing just how habitual it is all of us to turn away from, and close our hearts to, pain… yet how doing this restricts our expression of love. My Monday morning musing today is on opening our hearts to let life IN, and how the pain of others can open us up in unexpected and amazing ways when we let it. Its been something I’ve been trying on lately and it’s softening me in good ways. Here are my thoughts…

We habitually protect ourselves in an effort to feel safe and we’ve each been doing it to varying degrees our whole lives. Time passes, and when we live in these stances of protection, we walk through life armored, overly filtering the world within and around us, restricting how much of the human experience we let touch us.

Perhaps we do this because what other people have in them mirrors what we have in ourselves that we don’t want to feel. We may believe what’s there is too painful, or we don’t want to admit that we are something more than the persona, or dominant identity, we like to think of ourselves as. Or, perhaps what’s happening in others and the world, especially the parts like this that’s happening in Russia (and many other places much closer to home), reminds us of lives we’ve lived that were similar to this that we’re afraid to remember for fear they’ll happen to us again.

It’s easy to turn our backs from life only in the sense that it’s familiar. But it’s not actually easy. My guess is that lots of dis-eases people experience, from heart disease to ADD to all sorts of addictions, are manifestations of ongoing attempts to avoid feeling. But it never works as we are each full spectrum beings, inhabiting all that is light as well as that which is dark.

When we avoid the pain in others, we avoid ourselves. We want intimacy, but we only want to be close to what we experience as comfortable. This isn’t living. To LIVE we have to let it all in, own that we are all of it, and learn how to feel it in ourselves and others.

The full spectrum of life is ours to live because it’s who we are. And our hearts are infinite in their capacity to hold this. Pretending that we can separate ourselves from aspects of life only shows how we’ve been conditioned to believe that safety comes from protecting ourselves, instead of the truth of where our real safety comes from: inhabiting and expressing ourselves.

It’s Monday and typically people who blog on Mondays write something uplifting and motivational for the week ahead. My thought right now is that what would truly uplift us is to put down our walls, stop distracting ourselves from feeling, and let the world IN because it take SO MUCH ENERGY to block it out. And how can we feel enlivened, let alone experience the wonders of kindness, compassion, empathy, and connection, if we’re expending such great quantities of energy protecting ourselves through being armored, tense, distracted, and shut down? I’m not sure what this could mean for you but try it on. How might this day, this week, this life, be different if you made no effort to avoid what’s happening within or around you? You might not think you feel safe enough to soften in this way, but my guess is that by softening you will feel more safe.

Want to read more about a larger influence that’s supporting this? Look here.

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