I vow to develop UNDERSTANDING in order to live peacefully with people, animals, plants, and minerals.
I vow to develop my COMPASSION in order to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals.
I recently read this quote in the book Planting seeds: Practicing mindfulness with children. The authors (Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community) go on to explain that these are the promises they teach children to make during mindfulness training. They state, “Meditation is looking deeply to understand the needs and suffering of the other person.” These promises resonated with me because self-understanding (or self-awareness) and self-compassion are often what’s needed for people to make personal changes within themselves and to lead to happy life; something I advocate with compassionate self-awareness.
With this, people naturally respond to their personal struggles with caring; and with a desire to come through them and to heal. They are at peace with themselves even as they feel frustration, confusion, sadness, or a whole host of other emotions. And, by being at peace with themselves, they are able to look more deeply into their problems and work efficiently to resolve them. Or, if there is no clear solution, they can feel the painful emotions without turning against themselves or the world. They can remain open to feeling love within themselves and from others – they truly experience life as more than their personal pain in that moment.
The benefits of compassionate self-awareness apply equally well to many different problems; such as struggles with relationships, depression, anxiety, overeating, and lack of assertiveness. Consider your personal struggles and how they relate to the following, which I have adapted from Planting Seeds:
What I describe here is by no means the full answer to your particular dilemma. Instead, it is a starting point that places you on a helpful, constructive path. With self-awareness and compassion to guide you, you will nurture genuine, accepting love in your heart. It’s this love that will urge you to do what it takes to improve your situation and heal.
Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps is a clinical psychologist in private practice and is on the medical staff at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, NJ. She also writes a blog for WebMD (The Art of Relationships) and is the relationship expert on WebMD’s Relationships and Coping Community.
If you would like email notification of new blog postings by Dr. Becker-Phelps, click here.