Compassion is a word that is used often as a synonym for kindness, warmth, empathy or love. But it is all of those things and much more.
In CFT (click here if you want to know more) we define compassion using two psychologies.
In CFT, compassion is…
having the sensitivity to turn toward suffering
having the courage and intention to do something to alleviate or prevent that suffering
No, it’s not a bad thing, or a thing that shows you’re weak, and it’s certainly not just for certain people. If we’re not sensitive, we’re numb, to our own experiences and experiences of others. As a socially interdependent species we rely on each other for many things. We’re hard wired to want social, emotional and physical contact with other human beings.
To be able to have sensitivity we need to have awareness of what is and what it is not. Sensitivity isn’t just letting every thing on the planet into your mind and feeling sad for people – that would burn you out pretty quickly. Sensitivity is being able to be awareness of suffering, having empathy and sympathy towards that person or people, and being able to tolerate all the emotions that come along with it.
Distress tolerance is a really important part of therapy. To be able to open all those boxes we’ve packed away tightly in our minds, and process the things we’ve gone through, we need to develop some ability to tolerate the big emotions that come along with it.
So we’ve got our sensitivity and we’re turning toward suffering, now what? Well we aren’t expecting ourselves to rescue every person on the planet – it’s not possible. To give ourselves extremely high expectations, we only set ourselves to fail.
Do not underestimate how much courage and bravery it takes to be compassionate.
Be helpful, not harmful.
This is a central point in CFT. In everything we do, we intend and strive to be helpful, not harmful. If every person tried to do this, imagine how different the world would be. Imagine how societies would change, attitudes would be different, the expectations of our common man.
We know that Islamically intention is really important. If we intend to go on Hajj and for some reason we don’t, we can be rewarded as if we made our whole pilgrimage! We also know that Allah subhana wa’tala rewards those who are grateful.
No soul can ever die without Allah’s Will at the destined time. Those who desire worldly gain, We will let them have it, and those who desire heavenly reward, We will grant it to them. And We will reward those who are grateful.
If we start everyday intending to be helpful, not harmful…if everyday we smile or give salaams to a fellow believer…if everyday we have awareness of our actions and whether they please Allah subhana wa’tala…then insha’Allah our days will be pleasing to Him.
May our days be filled with deeds and intentions pleasing to Allah subhana wa’tala. Ameen.
If the idea of compassion and CFT has taken your interest, check out these resources: