“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” Pema Chӧdrӧn
As a counselor/therapist this quotation resonates with me in a way that might baffle you. I believe my finest moments in the counseling room, or in my life for that matter … are not when I have reached down to help someone weaker or less fortunate than myself. My brightest moments have not been when I have wisely utilized the letters behind my name to cleverly intervene and gift someone with the answer that has been eluding them. My proudest moments have not been when I have felt sorry for someone and charitably offered to rescue and protect them from their current plight. My most stellar moments have not even been reflected by my aptitude for helping someone shine some light on the dark parts of their path.
Don’t get me wrong … these moments feel really rewarding … but … they are not the moments that most aptly reflect my long-standing desire to serve the greater good and support people in living a great life – despite any challenges they may be facing.
My finest moments in the counseling room may surprise you … or … maybe even upset you. I know deeply, clearly and undeniably that my most altruistic and compelling moments are when I can look into the depths (and darkness) of my own experience and find that space within me that can recognize and relate to the invisible pain and ache in the heart of ‘the other’. That is, compassion emerges when I can find empathy for the bad one, the wrong one, the unlikeable one, the condemned one, the reprehensible one and the unforgivable one.
My finest moments come when I am able to feel compassion and kindness for the parent who has abused their child. They come when I am able to find that space within me that remembers how raising children can bring out the worst in even the most well-intended parents. My finest moments emerge when I am willing to search for the goodness and broken spirit within the adulterer … not just the person (s)he betrayed. Can I find that part of me that could possibly deceive the person I love the most? My finest moments in the counselling room, and in my life, reveal themselves when I can sit in the energy of humility and humanity … when I recognize that ‘hurt people, hurt people’. My finest moments are when I can look inside my own soul and find the part of me that might have responded as badly, wrongly, thoughtlessly and recklessly as those I am tempted to judge harshly.
While I have passionately dreamed of healing people’s souls … I have come to recognize that it is only in my willingness to acknowledge that I am equally capable of harming people’s souls that I can ever truly embrace the pain in another’s spirit. This is not to make excuses or deny the need to make amends/retribution … these are also critical parts of healing. It is simply to realize that it is in my willingness to embrace my own woundedness that I can honestly and genuinely relate to our shared humanity. This is the most authentic seat of compassion from which I can humbly attempt to live and work. I’m not always successful … but … I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is from this sacred space that I have experienced my finest moments as a counsellor, wife, mother, daughter, friend and woman.
Embracing it all, Karen
Please note that WordPress.com may place advertisements on my blog sites. The presence of these ads does not constitute my endorsement of the information, services, or products found in them.