There is a cost to compassion and empathy. When everything, all your love, all your care, all your passion is extended outward, there is an exhaustion that sets in slowly and lightly, and then eventually so heavy it’s hard to move.
Remember to turn some of that compassion inward.
One of the most profound moments for me was about a year and a half ago, right after trump took office. In the middle of the night, I woke up with such tremendous gratitude for the self-empathy practice I had set out to strengthen a year before
A year before I had said to myself “I am tired of the way you speak to me, and I am tired of always being last.” I had realized that, even though I had left my abusive relationship 10 years earlier, I was still in one…with myself. And I became determined to *love the woman in the mirror*.
It is hard in a world that has told us loving ourselves is bad- “you’ll get too big for your britches,” “you’ll develop an ego,” “you’ll become full of yourself,” “you’ll forget about other people.”
The last one is the doozy for a loving, open-hearted, caring soul. Life is spent filling in the gaps it seems so few are willing to fill. Loving and fighting for the people who are on the fringes, at risk of being forgotten. Giving, giving, giving. And the last thing I wanted was to forget *that* love. Because that love is where my *humanity* lives. My capacity for empathy is what kept and keeps me knowing I am alive and in relationship to the world. So I spent a lifetime believing I could not love me and everyone else at the same time. So I chose all of you, and all of those who do not know me.
In that moment 2.5 years ago, I pivoted. I thought to myself “even if it takes until I am 70 years old, this pursuit is worth it. I will find a way to love me, too.”
Just one year later, on this evening, I felt an awakening in me. For the first time, perhaps shockingly to some of you reading, I realized I in the midst of the interconnection I see in humanity and all living things, I also exist. I am a *part* of that interconnected whole. It was a spiritual awakening – in which I realized the truth of the words “if all beings are deserving of love, so am I” that I so desperately wanted to believe in.
So while compassion and empathy can have a cost, when we include ourselves and surround ourselves by others who speak the language of the heart and are interested in love, care, connection, equality, etc., it doesn’t have to break us. In fact, it can fortify. Love is bigger than we are. It is an ever replenishing resource when it is flowing in and flowing out at the same time. There is enough for me and for you, it is not a choice between the two. I would argue that living without this love, without this empathy and compassion, I would be stripping myself of my essence and my humanity. And that, I cannot live without, but I have had to learn to live with it.
Jaya Manske is the founder and owner of Coaching Compassion, and a Certified Mindfulness and Wellness Coach
Her individualized approach to coaching draws from the fields of positive psychology, interpersonal neurobiology, somatics, mindfulness, developmental and attachment theories, Nonviolent Communication and more. Her warm presence has supported clients to have significant breakthroughs, to transform from the inside out, and move forward powerfully.
If you wish to share your thoughts on this piece or are interested in learning more about coaching with Jaya, you can contact her by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out a contact form on her website at www.coaching-compassion.com