The COVID crisis throws into relief what happens when grief has—quite literally—nowhere to go. The evidence suggests that most people summon strengths that surpass their own expectations.
Verified by Psychology Today
"I found your last line interesting and very thought provoking—you found the process of owning up to your own mistakes an act of compassion for yourself. Can you elaborate on that at all?"
If I had a magic wand, I would always make the right choices, say the right things, and take the right action. But that is not possible as I am in the midst of learning how to live well and love well, and I will inadvertently distress and hurt people in the process. And it is the same other people will do to me … as this is how “we walk each other home” (Ram Dass). Since I understand this, I can have compassion for myself and others. This does not mean I do not feel shame or guilt when I create a mess, or that I do not feel upset or sad when somebody else hurts me, or that there is no need for apology, reconciliation, or restitution. It is just that with practice I can reconnect with the compassion for what is, as we are all doing the best we can. And I developed compassion for others and the mistakes they make loooooong before I was able to do that for myself. The position you are in in terms of your family is not foreign to me. I actually found myself in several situations where my care and kindness were met with me being taken advantage of, being manipulated, gaslighted, and betrayed. That is how I learned about idiotic compassion ;-). I found this excerpt from a Pema Chodron book that explains it very well:
"The third near enemy of compassion is idiot compassion. This is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should definitely say “no.” Compassion doesn’t only imply trying to be good. When we find ourselves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries. The kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say “enough.” Many people use compassion ideals to justify self-debasement. In the name of not shutting our heart we let people walk all over us. It is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. There are times when the only way to bring down barriers is to set boundaries."
from the book The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
So from Idiotic compassion I moved onto Wisdom Compassion, which actually requires certain fierceness (aka not putting up with any bs from anyone) which restores balance and healthy functionality in relationships. It can be tricky to say sometimes what is fierce compassion and what is one’s own ego defensiveness, so experienced teacher or guide or coach would be very helpful with that.
I hope some of this answered your questions!
Get the help you need from a therapist near you–a FREE service from Psychology Today.