“No one becomes more understanding or forgiving because he or she reads somewhere that this is a good way to be. Abstract concepts, no matter how laudable, have little effect on behavior.” -McKay & Fanning, Self-Esteem.
Practice makes purpose a reality. Talking about how to be more understanding is a start but practicing understanding is more valuable. The beautiful thing about compassion, love in action, is that when you begin to behave with compassion towards others you develop a compassionate mind in the process.
One Thing to Do: Practice having a Compassionate Response.
McKay and Fanning wrote about the eight step process to respond compassionately in their book, Self-Esteem. They suggest that a compassionate response contains three components: understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. Remember that forgiving someone who has been abusive is often best done with professional help and when you are safe.
The three themes show up in a series of eight statements (see below) which we are invited to commit to memory by the authors. This quick reference to moving with compassion towards others and self can be adjusted to fit statements that you think reflect your style while staying true to the theme of the segment. Also, repeat a set of questions (to yourself) until you can create the desired response.
The Compassionate Response
Three Questions to Create Understanding:
- What need was (he, she, I) trying to meet with that behavior?
- What belief or awareness influenced the behavior?
- What pain, hurt, or other feelings influenced the behavior?
Three Statements to Create Acceptance:
- I wish ______ hadn’t happened, but it was merely an attempt to meet (his, her, my) needs.
- I accept (him, her, myself) without judgment or feeling of wrongness for that attempt.
- No matter how unfortunate (his, her, my) decision, I accept the person who did it as someone who is, like all of us, trying to survive.
Two Statements to create Forgiveness:
- It’s over; I can let go of it.
- Nothing is owed for this mistake.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.