When we think of being compassionate, we might initially think of giving compassion to someone else. However, there are 3 flows of compassion.
- The compassion that flows from you to others (“Compassion flowing out”)
- The compassion that flows from others to you (“Compassion flowing in”)
- The compassion that flows from you to within you (“Self-compassion”)
You might find it easier to engage in one flow over the other. Often, the most difficult is the last flow; directing compassion towards ourselves. This is also known as “self-compassion”.
Sometimes, how we interact with a friend who’s going through something difficult (e.g. “That sounds really challenging”) is very different to how we interact with ourselves (e.g. “Just get on with things”, “It’s not that bad”, “I should be fine by now”).
Is it easier to give a compliment to someone rather than receive it? Have you any unhelpful beliefs about receiving credit when it is deserved (e.g. “They’re just saying that”, “It wasn’t a big deal”)?
Like emotions, we aim to have a BALANCE of the flows. For example, if we over-extend ourselves by continuously looking after someone else’s needs, we might neglect our own needs which can impact our mood, energy levels and well-being.
The next post will explore why compassion might be difficult to engage in.