esther m palmer

first cultivate compassion where it's easy

Being compassionate with strangers and acquaintances is relatively easy for me. Doing the same with family and close friends is not.

Last week, I gave an example of turning irritation into compassion that for me is completely doable. I can see an annoying colleague through compassionate eyes with just a small moment's pause to consider the full situation. If you swap out colleague for sister or husband (or any close family/friend), somehow suddenly it's not so doable. This imbalance is probably true for each of us: one or more spot in life where applying the good idea of compassion is "easy" and one or more where its just not.

It's taken me years of practicing patience and non-judgment in public to recognize my super short fuse in private. And it hurts to see that truth about myself. I don't like it one bit, but man do my fiery emotions make it hard to change!

But changing it I am, slowly and with conscious effort. What helps me the most is to think of my family not as family but as human beings (revelatory, I know). Then I can apply the same logic that works so well with strangers and just remember that there's more to mom than "mom" and more to dad than "dad". There's no good reason to treat them any differently than anyone else on the compassion scale. It might be harder or easier, but that doesn't make it "right."

Maybe you're exactly the opposite --your family provokes nothing but love and generosity from you, but strangers you shy away from. So start thinking of your acquaintances as somebody's mom or dad or brother or sister. Turn them into your family, so to speak, and you'll effortlessly treat them with every bit as much compassion.

One way or another, if we can see in each other the same spark of humanity, we'll cultivate not only compassion but also peace --on a grand scale.

hari om tat sat!


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