The Merriam-Webster definition is as follows: “a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Compassion, an everyday word that is often taken for granted. Compassion is one of my favorite emotions. Every day, all of us are faced with examples and situations that involve or could involve compassion. Yet, sometimes we let those opportunities slip by, unnoticed and not seized upon.
Some related words are tolerance, allowance, endurance, empathy and kindness. Our words and our behaviors towards others matter. Not only do they matter to those in need but they matter to ourselves. As this can lead to ‘self compassion’ and inevitably our own self esteem. I think compassion is a special virtue that can change moments, relationships, environments and lives. If we actively try and remember to practise and use our compassion it can become much more instinctive and natural. We can start by recognizing the situations and feelings where others are in need. This will move us to more subtle situations and generate effortless empathy.
I believe using compassion can increase self esteem, lead to better contentment and help others feel less isolated and alone.
Remember even with missed opportunities we can act on them tomorrow. Better late than never. As women, nurses, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends this can lead to ‘compassion fatigue’.
Therefore, we need to be aware of our own needs and balance our compassion for others with our own self care.
Be kind to ourselves, stay healthy, exercise, eat well balanced diets, don’t smoke and drink alcohol in moderation. Last, but not least, use others’ support. Affect change in your own environments at home, work or elsewhere. As the old Biblical quote states: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Simple, yet powerful.
Patricia Warren Spencer, BScN RN
References: Merriam-Webster Dictionary