Rumi on compassion
My dear heart, never think you are better than others. Listen to their sorrows with compassion. If you want peace, don’t harbor bad thoughts, do not gossip and don’t teach what you do not know.
In compassion and grace, be like the sun…
In generosity and helping others, be like a river…
Listen with ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love.
Beverly Engel’s article, “What is compassion and how can it improve my life?” notes that, “…instead of assuming that the reason someone has done something that hurts you is because they are selfish or inconsiderate, assume instead that they had a good reason for doing it…”. This extension of the definition takes us beyond a confusion between empathy and compassion, and into even broader understanding. What if my assumptions about your behavior toward me are incorrect? What if I’ve presumed something about your motives, your thoughts, or your feelings are way off?
My filters get a little foggy from time-to-time. It’s easy for me to assume that someone I love means me no harm and had good intentions in her treatment of me. It’s not much of a reach to presume that someone who’s not my biggest fan might wish me ill. It’s probable that neither were actually thinking about me that much at all. Sometimes people are just distracted, or caught up in their own stuff. I know when I get that way I can be insensitive or just plain checked-out. Compassion allows me to expect the best from my others.
And when in doubt? It doesn’t take much to check-in with a, “Hey, I noticed you didn’t say thank you for that amazing lasagna I made for dinner. ‘You ok?” You might get an abashed, “Sorry! Great dinner!” Or you may learn that some things went down that need a little tending.