Empathy sometimes misses the point. And that point is that we all need to evolve, to change for the better.
If you are too empathetic you don’t inspire or motivate the person desiring your empathy to change or find a way to help themselves.
If you lack empathy and rather want to be seen as practical and pragmatic, you can miss opportunities to improve your community and can even do harm.
True compassion is PRO-ACTIVE. It is forgiving, invites tolerance, but leads with a spark or an intense desire to see someone else’s outcome improve.
The best form of compassion takes that spark and feeds it with some practical measures or steps and actually lends a hand in building something better — something the recipient can work with and carry themselves.
One of the biggest lessons I had to learn was how to NOT do too much too soon for others when I was asked for help. It took a few too many times to figure out why I was doing that, so yes…painful, but the real challenge was to remain compassionate and open while modifying my reaction. It led me to a new service offering for parents involved in legal disputes, or what we describe as, “How to Be Your Own Best Advocate.”
Helping others learn how to advocate for themselves is rooted in my many failures, personal ones as well as the gestures made to others. While it does take more time, patience or flexibility, and often creativity, once you establish this pattern of empowerment and accountability, it will become easier, so think about your world:
~ children and step-children ~ married couples or single friends ~ clients ~
~ facing conflict / abuse, divorce, addiction, money / housing issues ~
We leave our world a better place by empowering others, especially our children, to create solutions and fix things themselves with tools we possibly provide or with tips we reveal. Then we watch them carry their new and improved self over the finish line. If you haven’t done this I suggest you try it – it is quite rewarding all around – and it creates confidence while decreasing co-dependency.
So, the next time you are tempted to JUST DO something for someone you feel sorry for, consider taking the extra time, using the extra creative effort and your last ounce of patience, to coach and coax them into figuring out a way to help themselves. This way compassion doesn’t have to collide or conflict with practicality and PROGRESS.