I don’t like the *C* word!

18 Sep

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Compassion = (n) a feeling of distress or pity for the suffering or misfortune of another

Empathy = (n) the power of entering or understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings

Taken from Collins English Dictionary

I have been thinking a lot lately about the word compassion.  There is a quote, which I have used, that states compassion is the preserve of a strong person.  I agree to a point.   Compassion does have an emotional and practical effect on the person feeling it in terms of time and effort.  Personally I prefer to use the word empathy.  To me compassion feels like it comes from a preconceived ideology of personal superiority.  Perhaps I am picky?  Empathy, however, feels like being alongside a person on equal terms with no pretence of being superior. To me this is a better fit.

Philosophically speaking there is a pay off personally for both. A person gets to feel good about themselves and sometimes if their offer is spurned that can turn into a self righteous indignation.  I am not immune to this!

The reality is that when an act of empathy or kindness is done it has more value if it is done with little or no thought as to how well it can ever be repaid.  This seems to have been forgotten by so many people in our society particularly many in leadership positions.  This is a tragedy to me.  I am not so naïve that I discount the value and place of networking.  BUT if you are in leadership should not your primary concern be for the welfare and well being of those around you affected by circumstances and events that may or may not be under your direct control??

It makes me weep both internally and externally that this is not how our society functions and that the quality of kindness is misunderstood as an admission of weakness by others all too ready to leap in and assassinate another for they own self furtherance.  This seems so true of politics and politicians!

I am, as usual, digressing!  I believe in acts of random kindness however small or big.  I attach great value to people who demonstrate these qualities and attempt to do so myself.  I find it almost impossible to receive the same back unless I totally trust the person offering.  How difficult I am then as a person to deal with! I have tried hard to reconcile this and be more open.  After all how dare I deny someone the pleasure of assisting me? I have been so badly hurt by others during my life but I don’t shrink from offering my help with no strings.  How do I become more open and accepting of others who may wish to do the same?

I really don’t know the answers writing these musings is one way that I grapple with my thought process but any suggestions will be gratefully received and considered.

Meanwhile I will continue in my journey towards enlightenment  🙂

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7 Responses to “I don’t like the *C* word!”

  1. karrrie49 July 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    It’s really interesting to me how you have compared the word ‘compassion’ and ‘empathy’. I agree, purely speaking from my own life experiences ,how empathy feels like it has more rewards if that’s how I can phrase it. Compassion is, to me, a sort of detached word in comparison . You can have compassion towards an illness or event and press a link and give money without really getting involved in a visceral way.
    I think empathy comes from people, who like yourself, have been either through similar life experiences or just tough times and really ‘get’ the hurt, the pain etc. as you say it is and seems to come naturally to some to truly give off themselves but these are few and far between. I guess it’s human nature I don’t really know but it seems most people offer words but little action. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and think to myself.. Well we are all going through stuff.. You can’t tell what’s going on in people’s minds or lives because we all survive by putting up a front JUST to survive. I’m digressing to, sorry.
    I’m like you I’ve had really tough times but I really struggle to accept help. I think it is in part a result of my upbringing where I was told not to acknowledge illness etc, to soldier on etc etc. but I’m beginning to realise accepting help from the few is not a failure. It can totally rejuvenate your mindset against the world. What is interesting to me is that the true practical help seems to come from relative strangers not family or people who we thought were friends. I’ve a few who text and say I’m praying for you but I’m sorry I’m too busy to see you.
    You know what, this is their problem so accept empathy and help from those who offer it if you can because these few are the ones that TRULY mean it and want to do it. All you have to do is believe they care. It’s bloody tough I know but it’s worth trying.
    I hope that made sense. Not sure if it helps your conundrum just my musings on a life much lived.

    • julieanneda July 4, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      I really appreciate your feedback! Yes, it all makes total sense to me. I also find my physical illness hard to come to terms with: HMS and Fibromyalgia. After a very active life I find it difficult to accept help for the reasons you state. I am improving slowly in this! I also find it draining and costly to come alongside BUT it is who I am.
      Thank you for taking the time to contribute ☺

      • karrrie49 July 10, 2014 at 8:22 am #

        I have different long term health issues but I totally get trying to accept who we have to be now, through no fault of our own, after being an active person. It IS exhausting and can be isolating. Thanks for such an interesting blog.:D

      • julieanneda July 10, 2014 at 8:44 am #

        Thank you for reading it!

  2. karrrie49 July 10, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Hope you are going to keep blogging on this

    • julieanneda July 10, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

      I write when I am moved 😊 thank you for your encouragement xx

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