Mothering in today’s world is akin to a juggling act, balancing time, energy and resources. And it’s easy to be swept into overwhelm and stress. As a mother to four children, six years old to fourteen years old, life is busy, full and often hectic. Half-way into my second decade of parenting, one thing I have learned: compassion is essential in parenting.
If there is one thing our world needs more of these days is compassion: for one another, our children and ourselves.
Compassion has two components: empathy and a desire to alleviate suffering. Empathy is the ability to understand and feel another person’s feelings. Compassion takes empathy one step further: with the addition of understanding what someone feels and experiences and wanting to alleviate another’s suffering. Compassionate love goes even deeper: it is the ability to feel what someone feels, alleviate any suffering, and the desire to promote a person’s flourishing, growth, and development.
I believe we all have the capacity to be compassionate. But what often gets in the way of feeling and expressing compassion is what I call Compassion Blockers.
Compassion Blockers are emotions or processes, such as stress or overwhelm, preventing access, use and the demonstration of compassion. Compassion Blockers are like roadblocks and detour signs on a road that’s under construction preventing our ability to travel. When we feel stressed and overwhelmed, it can be challenging to stay on a path of compassion.
Here is a list of a few Compassion Blockers:
- Unmanaged emotional pain
This list is far from complete. There are many personal triggers, including stress, that block compassionate love to ourselves, our children, spouse/partner, friends, family, and community.
As you read this article, ask yourself: What are my Compassion Blockers? And how does my compassion or lack of it, show up in mothering?
Here are 7 Ways to move Compassion Blockers out of your life and increase compassion.
- Increase Your Awareness
Simply reading this post brings attention to the concept of compassionate love. Pay attention to how compassion is present, or not, in your daily life. Assess what you are doing well, and the areas to improve.
- Increase Self-Care
Stress, tension, and exhaustion can negatively impact one’s ability to be compassionate. Putting yourself on the priority list to get enough sleep, nourishment, and do activities you enjoy is part of self-care. When you feel good, you can more effectively give to others.
- Manage Your Stress
It’s almost impossible to take the stress out of daily life. Instead of letting stress take over your well-being, work on ways to your manage stress. Exercise, meditation, journaling, laughing, and spending time with friends and family are some ways to manage stress.
- Imagine You Are The Other Person
Taking a moment to consider another person’s experience and perspective can be powerful. Pause before you react to someone or a situation and ask yourself this: How might I feel if I were on the other end of my behavior?
- Understand Behaviors Have Consequences
Every action has a reaction, and every behavior has a consequence. Under stress, it can be tempting to react with negative behaviors, like yelling or using harsh words, but the result, more tension, and stress. Your personal actions and choices are the greatest teachers to your children.
- Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is a feeling or state of thankfulness and appreciation. Gratitude can be externally expressed to others through words, gestures, and behaviors, as well as internal expressions in our mind through thoughts, positive memories, and encouraging self-talk. Gratitude is being aware of the goodness in your life. And research shows increasing gratitude in your life helps to improve well-being, manage stress and increases happiness.
- Be Compassionate to Yourself
You can not give to others what you are unable to give to yourself. Be mindful of how you speak and treat yourself. The more you cultivate self-compassion, the more compassion you will have to give.
Over the next few days, notice how negative emotions and stress impact your ability to express compassionate love to those in your life. Use some of the suggested strategies to move compassion blockers out of your life and increase compassion.
Originally published on ThriveGlobal.com April 6, 2017
© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2017