Thursday, May 21, 2009


Written by Julie Sando

My biggest learning this year is that with compassion, there are no challenges. If we have compassion for ourselves and others, we will not find adversity. I have found that when I tell myself "I would never..." I am soon presented with a situation that helps me see how "I would..."

An example: when I was in Jr. High gym class learning about self defense, I can remember thinking if someone were to attack me, I would grab, twist and pull, then run away as fast as I could screaming. I would never let a stranger come near me if I had any control over the situation. BINGO... we have an "I would never". What happened? I was home alone and there was a knock on the door. It was two burly men, with beards and flannel shirts, whispering "Let me in," while we stared at each other through the glass window on the door. My first thoughts from gym class were right there…there is no way I am going to let these strangers near me. Don't open the door! I said no. They flashed a badge and had an urgent tone in their voices, urging me to let them in. The fear set in and I have no clear reason why I opened that door. They rushed in and ran past me. My next thought was to run to a neighbor's house as fast as I could and scream so that the neighbors could hear me. Again, my fear took over and the fastest I could go was slower than my regular walking speed. I opened my mouth and no sound came out even though I was trying to scream. I responded completely differently than I ever imagined.

(If you are curious about what happened, the two burley men were undercover cops responding to a mother who had secretly reported her adult son for doing drugs in her house. They were supposed to walk in and catch him in the act. They got the address wrong.)

From that day on I understood how fear affected my ability to act rationally. I knew I would never judge anyone for being stupid in a fearful situation.

If each person focused on having just 20% more compassion in their day, I believe there would be less car accidents, less murders, and less stress in general.

What is the last thing you got angry or felt disappointed about? How can you add just 20% more compassion to that situation? It is simple, by seeking to understand ourselves and others, we immediately become more compassionate. Try on your non-judgmental attitude and ask the other person why until you understand that they are doing the best they can with the experiences they have had. Or if you think "I would never..." about a particular subject, seek to understand yourself by asking yourself why. Is it because you believe something is wrong or bad? That is the place you can insert some compassion. As we will never know how we'd respond until we are in the situation ourselves.

Imagine how different your life could be if you felt compassion toward everyone you encountered.


  1. Julie, I'm not entirely sure I understand your grasp of the idea of 'compassion.'

    I'm thinking your referring to being less critical of how another might choose to react to stimuli, and instead simply more accepting, and choosing to envisage, know, another as simply doing the best they know how, at any given moment.....and, if they knew any differently, or how to react to yield an improved outcome, naturally, they would do so, since people do not make the choices they do purposely to do harm....Is that what you refer to as a compassionate, or honoring disposition? I for me would also refer to that choice as towards a charitable disposition.

  2. Hmmm, I'm thinking about this. Having been in a situation myself lately where I took decisions that other people translated as: "not-loving, unsupportive, stupid, etcetera" this is an interesting article to me.

    I do belief at this time that we make judgments as described above because we don't understand. Like you didn't understand how people do not always stand up for themselves until you experienced a same kind of situation. From then on you are more compassionate.

    So your next action "to ask for clarification" makes sense. It might help to understand and create compassion. But I have been realizing that this only works when we have the belief in place that it is understandable for us in the first place. And there rubs the shoe. Because if our belief systems are very different, we might never understand the other person's reasoning because we judge what the other beliefs in the first place!

    So, I think the question is more: how can we feel comfortable, accepting, loving and compassionate if we might never know why something happened. This is where the core-beliefs where Bears talk about in his classes seem to fit in. Let’s take the Koninginnedag article I wrote on May 3. Instead of responding to it with: "ohh this is awful" I asked myself a question: how do I want to respond to this? And I realized I wanted to love the people involved. I wanted to support the families, and I wanted to see this situation as a moment for myself to model how I want others to respond to situations like this: with love instead of judgment. Is that compassion? I don't know, but if surely feels good!


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