If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
-The Dalai Lama
I’ve mentioned a few times, but R’s first year was rough on us all as a family. I haven’t really gotten into it much, but I have been dealing with some pretty intense postpartum depression and only in the last five or six months have I really felt some honest improvement. I have plans to touch on this subject in the future; but don’t hold me to that or expect anything anytime soon. I still feel very much that I am in the healing phase and I don’t necessarily have ‘BTDT’ experience, yet, with coming out the other side of PPD.
Anyway, one of the major things I’ve worked on in the last few months is cutting out areas of my life where I let negativity flow in. We stopped watching anything on TV other than PBS. No news, no shows on channels with commercials, none of that. We have been working on ‘minimizing’ (something I may also touch on in the future) and have gotten rid of a large percentage of our stuff. I cleaned out my e-mail inbox and unsubscribed to a lot of stuff I was getting. We stopped going to some places that were sources of negativity. And, recently, I decided to step back from Facebook (on my personal account). Initially I just ‘unliked’ a bunch of pages I had been following to help ease some of the information overload, but after a bit of drama was unleashed in another area of the internet that I frequent I decided to step back even further. I removed Facebook from my bookmarks bar and reeled it in other places, too.
Unfortunately, a second round of drama blew up in one of my circles and I decided I was done. I withdrew from that circle, as well, and have chosen to be more anonymous and private from here on out. The internet is a very, very public place and nearly anyone with half a mind to do so can find out all kinds of information about you in just a few moments. Even in a place I thought I was safe and cared about, there were people who didn’t have the same level of compassion that I try to hold myself to. I feel a bit naive about the whole thing, but you live and you learn, I suppose.
For me, in the end, it comes down to just that – compassion. That’s not to say I expect everyone I encounter to be sugary sweet and filter/sugarcoat everything they say to me; not at all. However, I do extend to others a level of compassion that I expect from them, and that includes respecting each other enough to accept differences, embrace choice, and speak your mind with a care for wording. I am not one to speak up in a group and make waves, but if I am comfortable enough with an individual I feel safe to voice differing opinions and spark friendly debates. I do, however, withhold harsh judgements and chose my wording such that I’m not making anyone feel attacked or inferior. I am certainly not perfect, far from it, but one of my personal goals this year has been to be more compassionate, and I am ever learning.
I think the biggest thing with having compassion in any situation is this: you cannot know everything about someone with a single look, or a single conversation, or even a year’s worth of exchange in a social group. People have reasons for everything they do or say and often judgements and snarking will do nothing to bring others to value your views or input.
I think striving for more compassion in connecting and communicating with others is a very valuable goal.