Love, Courage, and the Eye Roll

I had a conversation recently that disturbed me.  It reminded me that many people think striving to be kind and compassionate is a weakness.  That people who devote energy into spreading a little love and joy into the world are somehow simplistic and/or suspicious even.  But, I have always been a believer that it is far more courageous to express love and far more courageous to show empathy and compassion.

Expressing love, affection, kindness and sometimes even compassion can make you feel vulnerable.  I think it’s a weird power thing.  If you tell a friend that you love them, it opens you up for rejection or slight.  You are putting yourself out there, hanging without a net beneath you.

If you think of sharing feelings as a gift, it becomes much easier.  It’s not about you really.  It’s about having this love to GIVE to someone.

Showing compassion, especially to a difficult person, is also perceived as weakness, as if you were a sap….or letting someone get away with something.  I don’t agree with this.  I think you can have and show compassion for someone without letting that person hurt you further or take advantage of you in some way.

There is a rawness and a bareness to speaking aloud the words that express your emotions.  Generally this is not something done in the workplace!   But, when you take these sorts of risks in your personal life, it only helps to make you a more grounded, honest and expressive person at work.

I can actually remember deciding, in my twenties, to give more compliments.  I don’t even remember why I thought this would be a good idea.  I just decided to do it.  I started complimenting people at work and in my life.  I began thanking people more and it made them a pinch more happy and it made me happy too.  I think this is also part of a weird power struggle for people.  I suspect people think things like:  if I give them a compliment they’ll have one up on me.  I have also encountered people so unused to getting compliments that they get embarrassed by them.

What harm does it do to let someone know you are grateful for their efforts or you just enjoy their presence in your life?  Who wouldn’t want to hear that?  It can be scary to share your feelings; but, really, when it gets down to it, what is the worst that can happen?  What is the worst?  Rejection?  That is a possibility; but, you’ll never know if you don’t take risks.

I’ve been thinking and thinking on this conversation that disturbed me and I’ve written a few posts about it which I then erased before publishing.  Perhaps the conversation has knocked me off my game a bit; but, I want to leave you with some wisdom that I like to use to remind myself I’m on the right track.

Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. . . . It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.

—-Erica Jong

Compassion is the radicalism of our time.  —–14th Dalai Lama

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.    —-Henry James