Compassion in Action

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I was once told that empathy is compassion in action.

 

Compassion is being sympathetic of another person’s pain or circumstance. You understand their pain intellectually; yet it’s not relatable.

 

Empathy is being one with another person’s pain or circumstance. Empathy is relating to it deeply.

 

 

In the past 5 years, I’ve personally done a lot of work to be “more empathetic.” And, I’ll tell you, it’s not been easy.

 

My personality default is a “get-it-done”, “kick butt and take names” type of gal.

 

Yet, I’ve yearned for greater intimacy, connection and empathy.

 

And, the “mother” of exercises in empathy happened for me last night.

 

Literally, Mother.

 

My mom had knee replacement surgery last week and I flew up to Sacramento this weekend to be with her.

 

When I walked into her room I gave her a big hug. I figured I’d spend time getting her tea, and she asked me to clean her room up. “I can handle that!”, I thought.

 

Then she said, “I haven’t had a shower since the surgery (5 days). Can you bath me?”

 

“Woa,” I thought. Intimacy, connection, “compassion in action” wrapped into one.

 

I slowly said, “Of course.”

 

At first, I threw in some humor to break the ice (and fear of closeness): “Ok. Mom, drop your panties. It’s time to get naked.”

 

Yet, as I bathed my mom, lots of emotion circulated inside….I know some of my friends would give anything to bathe their mom right now.

 

During the bath, my mom and I exchanged very intimate eye contact. I felt her pain and need to be acknowledged. She looked like a little girl – she felt nurtured and loved.

 

It also felt like a full circle moment as I thought of baby pictures with me in the tub – on the receiving end.

 

Try this:

 

To connect with loved ones deeply and embrace your empathic side, perhaps give them a sponge bath. For me, it was a beautiful lesson in intimacy and empathy.

 

What are some ways you practice empathy?

 

 

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