Encouraging Compassion, The Fifty-Second Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
We are at the end of 2023 and yet life goes on with all its difficulties, complications, wonders, and joy. As we change the calendar year perhaps there is a better way to move forward. We traditionally make resolutions. Maybe we call them something else, but so many of us want to better our lives and a new year can feel like a blank slate.
I am all for making changes. I’m hopeful to be kinder and more compassionate with myself. This is a hope I’m carrying from this past year, day to day, and moment by moment. I find hope is not enough, though. It takes a daily practice of bringing compassion especially in times of struggle. To that end, I am relying on my experience that a daily practice of compassion or kindheartedness can change our lives in unexpected ways. Our hearts open up. We can listen from a place of curiosity rather than assumptions. We can better tolerate discomfort as we work to ease our pain. And we experience possibility rather than imposing past negative beliefs.
If we look back, we can all see that when we were encouraged, we blossomed. In college, Dr. Jones was a tough grader, but she was so uplifting, believing in her students’ ability to think for themselves. I wanted to do well in her class and did the hard work required. Conversely, in my creative writing class with a published author, I felt defeated as she had a very specific idea of good and bad. As an insecure 18-year-old, I quit before I even got started based on her condemnation. What was always a pleasure as a young teen turned into a shame-based exercise in her class. Two English professors with the same student and very different results.
As we set off into early 2024 let’s do what we can to encourage ourselves and others. If we find we’re having negative thoughts or words, perhaps we can see that we’re feeling stuck, and we can try again. There is always an opportunity for compassion. Whatever the year, compassion never goes out of style.
- Create a transitional ritual for those times when you’re going from one part of your day to another. For instance, during your commute to the office you can listen to an inspirational piece of music. And, before returning home you could possibly take a short walk around the block. This way when you start a new part of your day there is space between where you’d been and where you’re going. It’s like a refresh.
- Create a “Done” list. When we have to-do lists we can get overwhelmed. With a “Done” list we can feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Create a self-care list so that is available when things get stressful and you don’t have the mental resources to think what can soothe you, you can reference your list and choose something that will help.