Healing with Compassion
BY: Troy Murphy | January 2016
We best address hurtful pasts with a soft compassionate approach. Harness furthers the injury, preventing recovery, and continuing the pain we wish to avoid.
"A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal." ~Steve Maraboli
Beneath our protective exteriors, we carry wounds. Lost love, broken loyalties, emotional attacks and reoccurring neglect leave marks on the soul. We largely function unaware of these wounds from the past; but they forcefully impact the present. Perhaps, we will never fully understand the imprint of the past in our lives. Needless searches may uncover more trauma than actual exists. We can, however, treat these unseen wounds.
Occasionally with thoughtful reflection, we have flashes of enlightenment, organizing the broken pieces of experience; an experience, the disruptive emotions, the past, the present all seem to weave together in an understandable whole. But this is not common. Often experience triggers emotions hijacking behaviors, sending of orbiting around the same destructive patterns. Not recognizing why we feel like we do, doesn’t imply there’s no reason for those feelings. We can’t wait for meanings. Often time doesn’t permit. We must patiently move forward, gaining deeper understanding only when it is available. The meaning behind the hurt may be illuminated and healed but on its own time and own manner. This process of healing repeats throughout our lives, a natural part of the maturing process.
An effective healing ointment is compassion. Hurts given compassion heal. But finding a spring of compassion among the dry deserts of selfishness isn’t simple. Partners, family, and friends all can contribute but an essential source of compassion must be discovered within. When we loathe our selves, we misinterpret kindness from others; their compassion is rejected.
We feel strong emotions; chemical balance changes breaks through into consciousness, alarming that change is occurring; a reminder of humanness. The outside encounters constantly poke the sore spots from the past, stirring emotions, and warning of danger. Sore spots remain lodged in our psyches interfering with love, relationships and happiness. Instead of gathering wisdom from experience, some experience powerlessness; the hurts overwhelm the emotions and misinterpret opportunities as threats to be avoided. These embedded memories, whether explicit or implicit, must be coaxed out with compassion. A secure safety zone must be reestablished.
"An effective healing ointment is compassion. Hurts given compassion heal. But finding the spring of compassion among the dry deserts of selfishness isn’t simple."
“Do unto others, as you would have other do unto you,” the ancient Hebrew writings encourage. If I need compassion to heal, so do those around me. An emotional reaction from a partner, friend, or family member may activate fears and demand a protective response. But where is the utility in a response that further damages an important relationship? This chain must be broken. A defensive response will likely further alienate and hurt. Neither party receives compassion, trust is trampled on and healing is delayed.
The natural march of the sensitive ego quickly entangles communications in the sticky webs of defensiveness. My response to her response encourages another protective response in return. Around and around the (lack of) communication goes without either party hearing or feeling the deeper calls emanating from the words; both parties focus on self while completely blind to the partner. Accumulation of these contested moments determines whether trust is built of the relationship is destroyed. The message given “I hurt, and you don’t care,” often is the received meaning behind the war of words—no matter what those words may be.
To change hurtful patterns, we must consciously break the chain, momentarily stepping back from the emotions and asking, “What is my partner feeling?” Maybe we have distanced ourselves too long; the connectedness has been broken. We may have to ask them and non-defensively receive their answer. We may discover our partner’s anger, sadness and fears. And with that knowledge, we in return give them compassion. Hopefully this path, eventually, provides compassion to our fears and hurts in return. We need compassion too. As intimacy deepens, we recognize a partner’s feelings early, quickly reaching out with compassion; simple gestures and an open heart begin the healing process. By assisting in the healing of a partner, we create a bond—a bond of trust, a bond of love. Within these bonds, we find security and a return of compassion.