Compassion seems to be in fashion at the moment. However, I believe that a lot of people misunderstand it and all of a sudden being compassionate becomes toxic, or you find yourself sucked into someone else’s mess and drama. If you have a look at the dictionary, it states: “A stricken by misfortune
What is false compassion?
Compassion is a very healthy state of mind; it is a form of mindfulness. Used appropriately it will help not only you but also the person who is at the receiving end of your compassion, to understand what is needed to end their suffering.
Here are some examples of false compassion:
The constant need to get people out of the mess they created
You might be one of the people who are there for the ones in need. When they struggle you are there, you spend significant amounts of time to help people getting out of the mess they are in. They thank you and come back to you. These are the people who come again and again and again because they might be in the same mess as before or they present another drama they need sorted. False compassion would continuously help. On one point you feel drained. Helping people is okay, continually supporting the same people with the same problems prolongs their suffering.
Creating a dependency on you
This can happen consciously or unconsciously. You might be an expert in something, or you are gifted to sort out paperwork, make phone calls, maybe you have a certain amount of money left you are willing to hand out. True compassion will help someone but is teaching them what skills you use or what you do to sort out the problem. Which means you are helping them to help themselves in the future. Sometimes we get dragged into helping continuously because people tell us, that we are better in certain things or they are useless and cannot do it.
You cannot watch other people suffer
Watching people suffer is not a pleasant thing. We want it to stop and help them, end their suffering. However, sometimes with taking away the negative emotions someone has and instantly helping them can again create a dependency, and we robbed them of the experience to understand that they can sort out their problems. Not only this, but that particular actions have consequences. When you help someone regularly with money, they will not learn how to budget or move forward. Maybe you feel uncomfortable to see people suffer. Make sure that there is a difference in supporting someone that wants to change their life instead of supporting and enabling an unhealthy behavior.
It can create an unhealthy hierarchy
If we continuously feed into someone’s lack and they come to us and call on our compassion, then we create a way that they are not able to sort themselves out. We put our problem-solving skills above theirs. For some people, it has a benefit to appear helpless. Some people feel it is easier to let someone else sort out their problems and deal with it. Please be aware that energy vampires as known as toxic people will also misuse your compassionate streak.
What can you do to practice true compassion?
Set healthy boundaries
You do not have to be constantly there for people; you are allowed to say NO especially when a person starts to demand that your one-off support should be a constant service to them. We are not responsible for the choices and decisions other people make.
You can give advice, but people need to learn to help themselves
If you want to show compassion and help someone you can offer advice, it does not mean that you need to sort things out for the person. Be careful though! Do not tell someone what they have to do rather tell them what helped you.
Learn how to sit with the feeling of helplessness
Sometimes we cannot help, witnessing endless suffering can be hard. Understand that compassion can also be warm words or a hug, sometimes situations or problems cannot be avoided.
Compassionate people will feel the suffering of others more. Understand that behind suffering always lies a decision someone can make, even if it is a changed attitude towards a situation. Healthy compassion has healthy boundaries. Sometimes it is compassionate to say NO because with a NO you might end the suffering of a person far quicker than someone who always sorts other people’s problems out.