Love is in the air. But what about compassion?
Love tends to be the only quality we hear about when it comes to relationships.
“I love you.” It’s the phrase that makes us anxious and excited while growing a new relationship, and we deepen the meaning of these three words as our relationships mature.
Love is important to feel and express, but what about “I have compassion for you?” How about, “I support you unconditionally” or “I understand where you’re coming from?”
These phrases signal a strong foundation in any relationship. And they’re not always implied.
Love is nothing without compassion.
HEALING IN RELATIONSHIPS
One of the most common challenges I hear about from those who are healing chronic illness is a lack of understanding from loved ones about their condition or healing protocols.
So many of us have had the experience of feeling like the “outsider” or the “weirdo” at family gatherings. We abstain during meals out with friends or choose very simple, clean meals.
In partnership, this can be even more difficult.
Some of us are fortunate to have supportive partners who don’t guilt us for being different. But many of us experience challenging moments if our partners don’t find a way to build compassion into the relationship.
WHERE LOVE COMES UP SHORT
In Life-Changing Foods, the author Anthony William (the Medical Medium®) writes about compassion in the book’s final pages.
“Spirit defines compassion as the understanding of suffering. Compassion is looking past, around, or sometimes through our experiences to connect with and express care for someone else.”
Going beyond our own experiences can be a giant leap for many people. You can say “I love you”, and mean it wholeheartedly, yet still lack compassion.
If you’ve never experienced symptoms of chronic illness, it’s easy to follow the gaslighting trends, which say to those who are sick that it’s all in their heads. Or that it isn’t so bad.
Compassion says, “I do not share your experiences, but I will listen and connect with you anyway.” Compassion is powerful. It is a commitment to reach out to another human being with unconditional understanding.
Compassion is healing, and it can transform a relationship.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
In Life-Changing Foods, Anthony William also says: “Compassion…reaches out from one person to another to express the sentiment we all want to hear: You’re not alone.”
It is easy to feel alone when you are suffering from chronic illness.
Even with a loving partner, we can still feel isolated by our symptoms and their toll on our physical and mental well-being.
I’ve worked with clients, both women and men, who lost their libido due to adrenal fatigue, neurological fatigue, or a lack of energy due to other symptoms. A lack of intimacy can be very challenging for a partner not affected by the same symptoms.
Compassion works both ways here. The partner suffering can acknowledge that the other has a desire for intimate contact that is not being expressed and validate that experience compassionately. With patience and understanding, the sick partner can say, “I just need time to heal.”
The partner who is not ill has an opportunity to allow compassion to override their feelings of hurt or disappointment in this situation.
Compassion will say, “I see that you are hurting and cannot give what I am asking, no matter how much you want to. I will be patient with you too, and support you unconditionally, even if it means that my needs have to wait for now. It’s not your fault. We will get through this.”
The same idea applies when cooking dinner together where one partner has strict dietary needs, and the other doesn’t when spending time with friends who may not understand the need for a healing lifestyle and when spending time with family.
We always have the choice to make another person feel that they are not alone in their experience. Just as we also have the option to ignore, ridicule, or isolate that same individual. Compassion will guide us to the right choice if we intend to act from love.
The phrases at the beginning of this post are powerful. Imagine if we said “I support you unconditionally” as often as “I love you.” What would happen during a difficult moment if we paused to say, “I understand where you’re coming from”?
Sometimes “I love you” isn’t enough. It takes compassion to go to the next level.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
Without compassion, my husband and I would never have made it through the trials of our past 23 years together. Choosing compassion during moments of anger and uncertainty is foundational when sharing a life together.
One of my biggest “aha” moments has been realizing that I could choose to have compassion for another person even though I had good reason to be hurt. And my husband has discovered this too. Compassion protects me from the pain of hurt feelings where it’s warranted.
Compassion in the face of hard emotions has healed those very emotions. Compassion has created deeper love and understanding.
Isn’t it interesting that compassion comes naturally to us with children and pets, yet our patience runs thin with adult family members and partners? Why is that?
I believe it’s because we default to giving children and animals the benefit of “not knowing better” – we allow grace to enter the equation out of compassion. Adults deserve grace too.
THE POWER OF COMPASSION
Authentically meeting someone where they are is not an expression of weakness. And the outcomes of doing so are not superficial.
Compassion can transform relationships. It can heal family rifts. Compassion can change the world if we incorporate it into our daily lives.
I’d like to leave you with one more beautiful passage from Anthony William on compassion.
“Compassion has no strings or sell-by date. It is timeless and can never spoil. It is strong, vital, and contagious in the best sense of the word. Compassion is life-changing. It opens up the heart and connects it to the soul. When ignited and passed along, compassion has a force of its own. It exceeds every birthday and holiday present in hundreds of lifetimes put together. It breaks all material laws and supersedes everything seeable and tangible here on earth.”
If you’re struggling in your relationship for any reason, especially if your healing path is long and difficult and affecting your loved ones, invite them to sit with you and talk about how to bring compassion more readily into your shared space.
Then be patient with each other, and watch as a miraculous transformation begins.
To your health and peace,
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