Compassion is a value that many people work to cultivate throughout their lives. Usually, when we notice that people around us are suffering, we want to help make it right if we can. This reaction comes from compassion. Most people don’t want others to suffer, so of course we rush in with all kinds of solutions to the problem at hand.
Often, our help is greatly appreciated. Calling a friend who has been feeling disconnected and down is most welcome, just like bringing over some food when someone is recovering from a hard time, or helping out those who might need some clothes to keep warm.
But sometimes, those we want to help aren’t quite ready for change. Compassion is a challenging balance, as sometimes, people grow most by working through a challenging time on their own.
In a relationship, so often we want to “fix” our partner’s issues as quickly as possible. This can be even more true in our relationships with our extended family. When we do this, we assume they see their behavior as a problem and want to fix it. If they do not share our opinion that a fix is needed, we’re leapfrogging beyond where they are at this present moment.
When we see how people could feel happier if changing part of their life, often the best first step is talking to them about what we see without imposing our solutions. This helps us express compassion without forcing change, or worse, ignoring the issue and letting it become a source of repressed irritation that will likely eventually surface as anger. Asking open questions with compassion can help bring attention to something that we can see, but the other person does not. And if they aren’t ready yet to really look at what’s going on, sometimes the most powerful practice is simply letting things be.
It can be uncomfortable not to rush in and fix everything every time. As compassionate people, we want to help. There is a powerful yoga practice though in giving others the space and time they need to grow, and it is an art to balance this space while being connected enough to help once they are ready.
We all walk our own paths in life. Compassion helps us relieve as much suffering as we can, while also respecting the pace that others are walking their own paths. The practice of yoga helps us be both mindful enough and brave enough to notice the differences and cues between what can be fixed, and what we can simply help carry for now.