Every person in the Universe has many things in common including our needs for food, shelter, love, attention, recognition, and happiness. Every human has suffered also, and there are many commonalities of those sufferings. They may be sickness, worries, loneliness, fears or sadness. When we recognize those feelings in another person if we react with understanding, we are practicing empathy. When we take action, we are practicing compassion.
How we take the rust off our sense of empathy and take action with compassion begins with understanding what all of us have in common.
- Step 1: “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”
- Step 2: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”
- Step 3: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness, and despair.”
- Step 4: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.”
- Step 5: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
When we have difficulty understanding what a person is feeling or how we may be able to help them, go through these steps and ask how they are in each area, what do they need that I can give to help them?
This practice will make it very clear what we can do for them and how we can help them clarify what they can do for themselves to relieve the suffering they are feeling. Sometimes just listening is the most compassionate action we can take that will provide the most healing.
How would you demonstrate compassion for a friend or loved one if they were sick, lonely, hurt, worried or fearful?