Practicing Compassion

Today I was practicing compassion for the elderly woman driving her bright red Honda Civic ahead of me.  She had her right turn signal on for blocks and she stopped at every corner even when there was no stop sign requiring it.  She also drove very slowly.  At first I thought, “If I drive like that someday, shoot me.”  This shocked me, so I took a deep breath and then another and I tried to imagine how challenging she was finding driving today. And how when I am her age I would like people to remember that we can all get on down the road if we are patient and kind to one another.  Slowing down my driving speed for a few blocks was not going to impact my day one jot.  Not tailing her closely or passing her or honking was going to make it less stressful for her, and less anxious for me too. Once I changed my perspective, I realized that she was looking for a specific street and that this stretch of Sacramento road did not have street signs on every corner, or placed them behind trees.  Gosh, maybe her grey hair is not even relevant.

Part of the Positive Intelligence saboteur assessment (www.positiveintelligence.com) measured how much my Judge is activated toward judging myself, others, or circumstances.  My only high score was for judging myself.  So when I was done extending empathy to the grey-haired woman driver, I wondered for what I need to extend compassion to myself.  I did not come up with a long list, so that is progress.

This is the continuing story of how I am addressing my relapse with my saboteurs.  One saboteur in particular, the controller, is so strong that the statements that the controller often says did not sound outrageous to me.

“If I work hard enough I can and should control the situation so it turns out as it should (my way).”

“Without the controller, nothing much would get done. I need to push people and myself.”

“Others need me to take control and I am doing them a favor.”

When I compare them to my three core values (authenticity, integrity and inspiration), the controller especially violates inspiration.  It is hard to let go of control in the hope that inspiration will be allowed to breathe.

If this is not your issue, then you are probably thinking rational thoughts like “Control is an illusion.”  “None of us can control much about our circumstances, or other people, or even aspects of ourselves.”  Or, “It is a waste of energy to try to exert control over who wins the World Series or the Presidential election.”  I agree with you.  Excuse me though if my saboteur then gets confrontational with you and intimidates you into silence as I insist that “I am trying to get the job done for all our sakes.” I am still a work in progress.

My challenge this week is to practice empathy and to explore other perspectives that activate my sage and give me room to experience integrity, authenticity and inspiration.  Sometimes it is almost funny when I realize that the controller thinks that her perspective is the only right one. She wants me to put my energy into convincing everyone of my point of view.  Then I try to think of as many other perspectives as I can of the situation.  I can stand on the angry square, or sit in the seat of satirists, or look at it through the eyes of love.  I am then free to acknowledge the perspective that is authentically me.

This work is actually fun.  If you are willing to give it a go, I would love to hear about your experience.

One thought on “Practicing Compassion

  1. Enjoyed this read today, Julie. Thank you once again for being willing to share your insight and to be vulnerable enough to include the struggles – especially with empathy. I really appreciate it!
    ~Hugs to you Tyla

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