the precious necessity of compassion …

January 25, 2011

in Hospice & Palliative Medicine,Spirituality

Halifax discusses many facets of compassion, in particular what we often refer to as “Whose need is it?” …

” … one can feel acutely distressed about the suffering of another and engage in behaviors that appear to be helpfulto the suffering person, but if he or she is motivated, consciously or unconsciously by the need to reduce his or her own distress, this is then a selfish prosocial behavior arising from personal distress. Our own observation is that personal distress can lead to the three common fear responses of fight (moral outrage), flight (abandonment), or freeze (numbing). We can ask the question: how does one regulate emotional responses, so that compassion can be nurtured and caregivers do not fall into reactions of avoidance, abandonment, numbness, or moral outrage? Clearly, one of the most powerful interventions is mindful focused attention, the ability to intentionally guide the mind in accord with our intentions and stabilize the mental continuum to have insight about suffering, its origins, and how to transform suffering.”

… our ‘near enemies’ can drain and destroy us … ” … But the near enemies of compassion are often difficult to recognize. They include fear, grief, pity, anxiety, and righteous anger, all expressions of personal distress… Thus, we must look truthfully at our own experience and see if our response to suffering is healthy; we then evaluate our choice in how we are responding and let go of blame and judgment.”

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: