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FEATURES By Deborah Lloyd The Gift of COMPASSION

Recently, I sat with the daughter of a dying patient. She told me, the hospice social worker, about her unrelent- ing anger towards her mother, the petite, 90 year old woman sleeping peacefully. “I’ll never forgive her for not leaving my verbally abusive father, the man who ruined my life,” she continued.

Miraculously, within the hour, this daughter moved into compassion and love. How? It was simple. I asked for spiritual guidance, and my next statements were truly inspired. Tell me, I said, about your mother’s childhood. When and where did your parents meet? What chal- lenges did your parents have during their marriage with financial setbacks or losses? Was leaving the marriage a viable option for your mother?

True empathy blossomed in her heart as one realiza- tion after another came, like small lightning bolts. A new perception developed, as the daughter considered her mother’s life. Her mother had often said, “I will not tolerate physical abuse.” Her mother had been raised in a physically abusive home, and she had stopped the generational cycle. Perhaps, she had not recognized the harm of emotional abuse. Due to limited education, her mother may have only seen an impoverished life, if divorced. The daughter developed a more realistic view of this ending life. She aided her mother’s transition with loving words. While the daughter has more emo- tional work ahead, she has a promising start.

This scenario demonstrates one of the most important lessons in learning compassion. None of us ever know the whole story of someone else’s life. Each person has her own history, understanding and wisdom. We may choose to react to a specific situation from the view- point of our own wisdom – and then judge, or be hurt by others. Or, we can stand back, in a place of objective acceptance, and find true empathy.

Compassion can be learned and practiced. Let’s look at five steps that can help you to develop compassion for others:

1. If it’s hard to feel compassion, think positive thoughts about the other person. Even with the best intentions, there will be times when it seems impossible to conjure up loving feelings, especially if this person has hurt you, or caused harm to other people. Just know there is a story behind those actions and use your mind to make positive comments. Ask Spirit for assistance. Think love – and soon you will feel love.

2. Do not judge others. Every Great Master has warned us about judgment. It is so easy to judge others’ actions, and think you’d never do that. You may be right. But, you have never walked in another’s shoes. Perhaps, you had a better childhood, more educational opportunities, or the support to make better choices. It is impossible to know what is in a person’s heart and mind – only Spirit knows.


3. Feel compassion for yourself. How can you truly love others until you truly love yourself? The first com- mandment is “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” If I am my own worst critic and give myself negative messages all day long, how can I show positive regard to others? Forgiving yourself is a necessary first step in learning to forgive others.

4. Deal with your fears. Every thought and every action is either based in love, or in fear. When a negative thought or feeling arises, stop, and process it. What is underneath the thought or feeling? What do you really fear? Then, do the necessary work to heal the fear.

5. Compassion equals love. All good actions are based in love. So easy to say, so hard to do. Recognize the divinity in each person. Each one is on his/her unique individual journey, honor it. Express gratitude for this person being in your life.

Julie thought her supervisor was the most critical, mean- est person she had ever known. Using the five steps to practice compassion, she made several changes. She created positive thoughts by listing the things her supervisor did well. When Julie witnessed one of these items, she mentally noted it. When a critical remark was made, Julie rephrased it in a constructive way, and repeated it back to her supervisor. Much to her sur- prise, the supervisor modeled the positive rephrasing. Julie became her teacher, as she created a positive work environment. She gave herself kudos for this progress!

Soon, everyone was smiling and being kind to each other. They learned to care for and support each other. Every day, Julie thanked Divine Spirit for giving her the grace to learn compassion – right where she lived, forty hours a week.

As a hospice staff person, people often ask me how I handle the daily experience of death. The reality is that my work offers me many treasures, filled with life’s most important lessons. My heart is gladdened by the forgiveness, healings and love in the last moments of earthly life. But, don’t wait until the last days. Start practicing compassion now, and start with your small circle of family, friends and coworkers.

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Oracle 20/20 March 2013

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