It is easy for us to send loving kindness and compassion to the people we love and care about. When our loved ones are in pain or suffering, we feel so much compassion for them and we show them how much we love them and care about them. When our loved ones make mistakes, we forgive them because we are compassionate. We treat those people we care about with much love and kindness.
B U T
What about the people who get on our nerves?
What about strangers?
What about those who are different from us?
What about ourselves?
Do we treat these people with loving kindness and compassion?
Do you treat yourself with loving kindness and compassion?
Suffering is an easy place to go. Actually, a lot of us find suffering a virtue. The more we suffer, the bigger our badge of honor gets. Why is that?
Why do we think that we don’t deserve love, kindness and compassion?
Why do we choose suffering?
Suffering hardens us and make us resilient but it also makes us resentful and afraid (fear manifest into anger).
Loving kindness and compassion soften us and set us free but they also make us vulnerable (which leads to deep connection).
So why is showing loving kindness and compassion so scary?
We are programmed to fight for what is right and to do the right thing. We are taught to stand up to bullies and call out the “wrong” things or actions. We were told to fight back and be brave and show strength. And loving kindness and compassion… well it sounds — docile. It sounds —- weak. It sounds —- like lost or giving up.
We cannot control a lot of things – especially people.
Sufferers love company (misery loves company), therefore as often as they can, they would like you to join them! And a lot of times, you take the bait and join them in their sufferings. Then you start suffering and would like to bring other people as well… Now the more the merrier! The cycle continues.
Now when we look at a sufferer as a person who is suffering, we start to detach ourselves from them and realize that it isn’t personal. This person is projecting his pain and it isn’t about us. Then we can look at him with compassion and then we can wish for their suffering to end.
Loving kindness and compassion really start with ourselves. We need to accept ourselves, including our faults and imperfections, so we can look at other people who are suffering, especially those who we love, with loving kindness and compassion because we accept them for who they are… and that soft spot is called LOVE.
Hatred never ceases by hatred
But by love alone is healed.
This is an ancient and eternal law.
When we are hurt, we suffer. When we closed our hearts so we don’t get hurt, we suffer.
When we are disappointed, we suffer. When we closed our minds so we don’t get disappointed, we suffer.
When we are afraid, we suffer. When we are not free, we suffer.
When we are lonely, we suffer. When we don’t love, we suffer.
When we are angry, we suffer. When we are unkind, we suffer.
When we are disgusted, we suffer. When we don’t open our minds, we suffer.
Suffering is easier to get to…. but it doesn’t lead to joy.
It is said that wisdom is inherent in emotions. When we are aware of our emotions and we accept our emotions instead of struggling against it, then we are letting go of our suffering. We acknowledge the feeling. We accept. We give it space. Then we let it go…. and then we let in peace and joy.
Acknowledging, accepting and giving our feelings space is very scary because we are clearly seeing our defense mechanisms, our desires and expectations — but we also see our kindness, our bravery and our wisdom.
So what do you do when an asshole is in our personal space?
We remind ourselves that this person is suffering and this is not personal. It isn’t about you. This person is inviting you to their suffering and you are going to say “No, thank you”. Send them loving kindness and compassion.
What do you do when you feel betrayed or disappointed?
Familiar yourself with “Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment”. It is a practice of PAUSING before acting. See P.A.L.M. exercise.
What do you do when you are feeling self-hatred?
Interrupt your destructive habits and awaken your heart (it’s a work of a lifetime) and give yourself loving kindness and compassion. Catch the emotional reaction and drop the narrative (your story line). See breathing practice.
What do you do when someone is really getting on your nerves on a regular basis?
Practice saying, “May this person who is driving me crazy enjoy happiness and be free of suffering.” – Pema Chodron
It all comes down to loving kindness and compassion =)
Awakening the 4 qualities (love, compassion, joy & equanimity), provides the warmth for an unlimited strength to emerge.
They have the power to loosen up useless habits (suffering), and to melt the ice-hardness of our fixations and defenses (suffering).
We are not forcing ourselves to be good. Rather, these aspiration practices develop our ability to remain steadfast with our experience, and we come to know the difference between a closed and an open mind, which leads to self-awareness and kindness we need to benefit others.
– Places That Scare by Pema Chodron