Ever since this pandemic came to be, the times have been tough and has irreversibly altered all our lives. We have had to miss friends and family during lockdowns and travel restrictions. Our characters have been tested, and it a lot of us might have shown compassion to others during these difficult times.
In my university, I have seen many examples of individuals being a lot more compassionate towards others, particular towards the international students. This got me thinking, is being compassionate a good character trait? Are there any downsides to being a compassionate person.
So let’s delve into both the positives and negatives of compassion and see how we can use it to its maximum effectiveness!
Why Compassion Is A Useful Trait To Have
There are actually quite a few proven benefits that having compassion as a trait brings to the table. For example, being compassionate is seen as a very favourable trait to have. People will notice your compassion, and will like you for it. So if people know that you are a compassionate person, it will likely bring you many great friends and in turn plenty of meaningful relationships.
Also in love it can be a very powerful emotion, as it makes you a much more attractive partner.
Living a compassionate lifestyle has also been shown to increase happiness and a decrease in stress. Expressing your self in such a way has even been linked to decreases in once anxiety.
Lets see some methods you can use to become a more compassionate individual!
4 Methods To Become More Compassionate
1. Become more empathic
Learn to put yourself in the shoes of other people. If you are able to understand the situation that someone else is going through, you are much more likely to be able to help them in a positive and meaningful way.
You cannot be a compassionate person if you are not emphatic. Empathy is all about understanding the other persons situation. Compassion is treating them fairly and just based on that situation.
2. Practice self-compassion on a daily basis.
Practice makes perfect, and that saying is just as relevant here for compassion. You will not become a more compassionate person over night. You have to actively practice if you want to get better.
I suggest you focus on one of these methods at a time, and really put your mind to it to try and get better. In a couple of months time your skills will have drastically improved.
3. Don’t judge a book by its cover
Relax your judgments of other people. If you start to judge people by their first impression on you, chances are you will not get an accurate emphatic reading of them. As discussed above, empathy is key to becoming a more compassionate person. Don’t judge a person based on first impressions, rather judge them by how good of a friend they are to you and others.
4. Become an active listener
Listing to others can have numerous positive effects. Not only will you come over as more compassionate, you are also acquiring vital information that you can use to actually be more compassionate as well. How do you plan to help someone if you are not listing to their qualms and struggles?
I will write a more in-depth article on methods that you can use to become a more compassionate person in the future. Make sure you keep an eye on my most recent post section to not miss it!
The Down Side Of Compassion
There are times in your life where you will be tasked with making tough decisions that will hurt another person in one way or another. Imagine yourself as the boss in a company and you have to fire someone. No doubt that person will feel terrible after you have delivered the news.
If you are a very compassionate person, these types of “hurtful” actions will cause you to feel various forms of guilt. The emotion of guilt is an extremely uncomfortable one, and will arise from seeing the pain that you have caused another person.
Guilt can oftentimes be the emotion you preemptively feel when you are about to make a decision, and this is where the negative side effect of too much compassion comes in. Let me provide you with an example to show you how feeling guilty can negatively affect your life.
Say you are a student in university, and you are studying hard for the exam that are coming up in a 2 weeks. Some of your friends from other faculties find that they have plenty of time to go on a weekend road trip and invite you to come along with them. Now you are the only one in the group with a car, yet you feel the need to study for your exams.
This means that your friends cannot organize the trip, since none of them have a car. If you are a very compassionate person, you will immediately feel guilty for cancelling on your friends, since you think they cannot do a fun trip because you of. You will feel guilty for hurting them.
That being said, you chose to prioritize your exams and therefore your future career. Which is arguably the most important aspect of your life as a university student.
if you were not much of a compassionate person, or you are able to rationally think about the situation, you would simply say you are unable to go. You wouldn’t lie awake at night with that massive feeling of guilt. Then you can focus on your exams and do what you wanted to do.
Another point to make is that people might abuse your levels of compassion. If others know that you very rarely say no out of compassion, they could make use of that to get you to do things for their benefit. It might leave you open to potentially abusive relationships aswell.
You always have to stand up for yourself, so lets delve into some methods that you can utilize to stop the negative effects of too much compassion.
X Methods To Lessen The Negative Effects Of Too Much Compassion
1. Be rational
being rational about choices you make will ensure that you never make a decision because of an intense emotion. Have you ever heard the advice that you should never act when you are angry, because you will likely regret it in the future when you have calmed down? It is the same for any intense emotion.
If you start to feel immense feelings of guilt, be rational to yourself. Did (or will) your action really hurt someone. Did you make a decision that was in line with your goals, and not to please others?
Learn to separate your problems from that of other people. We all live a tough life, and sometimes we simply need to take care of ourselves first! There is nothing wrong with that. Never surrender your goals for someone else’s pleasure!
2. Make sure your relationships reciprocate your levels of compassion
If you feel like you are being taken advantage of sometimes, then this is a big tip for you! Ask yourself if the people you have shown compassion for, have done the same for you, or are willing to do the same for you. If the answer to that question is no, then chances are that you are putting more effort into the relationship than the other person.
It might be fruitful to have a talk about it with those people. One sided relationships like that are not healthy since the other person lacks respect for you. If you are able to remember numerous times that your friends and family were compassionate with you, then you are very lucky to have those relationships and you should cherish them!
3. Prevent the emotions of other people affecting yours
Really compassionate people have the tendency to feel strong emotions when someone else is experiencing problems in their lives. These feelings can be so strong that they will affect your own productivity and other parts of your days. If you also become emotional, you are not able to give rational advice to that friend or family member.
Prevent yourself from feeling the other persons emotion, since it will only make it harder for you and them to come to a solution.
Compassion is a very important character trait and should be apart of everyone’s character. Unfortunately there are individuals all around us that tend to take advantage of those with too much compassion. Make sure that you are compassionate, but within reasonable limits!