Insights on compassion

Rani G2

MyPTSD Pro
Have written about this elsewhere.. so I’m moving it into this space because I am now and then having inner debates/conflicts with this topic and yes I do struggle with —what I believe- is a missing link.

I am trying to get to a heartfelt level of compassion. If someone would ask me if I am compassionate ? I’d say it’s a faint version of Yes and No. Not from an immediately perceived inner perception. People are talking about Empathy/ compassion (Not dropping empathy and compassion into the same Saucepan, differentiating here also). Have been unpicking the whole neurobiological mechanisms of empathy, prosociality, cooperation ect to understand the foundations of things... (Still Doing so).


Its also the fatuity of my understanding! When someone physically gets hurt, I don’t feel with her or him.. I Do understand on a cognitive level. I don’t yawn if someone is yawning infront of me.. I don’t feel other people’s pain on an emotional level, or what I believe I must/should feel (The answer to this might come soon), this doesn’t necessarily mean I lack compassion, it might be compromised due to many reasons (Brief Description = From Sri Lanka /Mother was beaten often during preganancy, violent father, grew up in boarding schools with Nuns where there was physical punishment, and sexual abuse when I was left alone with two unknown men (I also don’t remember much about my childhood).

In some ways I do struggle because I can see how others are resonating with people, kids, animals. For me it’s just very one dimensional. I don’t seem to grasp the entirety of it, it’s more flatland, rationality, practical sense, evaluating and Analyzing.


I am interested on how your experiences are when it comes to compassion. Not asking for advice on how to cultivate compassion (Already doing that with Therapist) Or what compassion is and what not.

Your subjective experience of compassion? Putting your words to feelings

Thank you.
 
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RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
This is very probably not helpful, but I feel like I swing too far the other direction in a lot of scenarios. When I see people in physical pain, I can become nonfunctional with what probably stems from empathy and often manifests itself in over the top compassion. I can become nauseated, tear up, end up crying profusely, etc. "Funny" home videos where people get hurt?? They bother me on a very fundamental level. How is it funny that Joey just broke his arm and got road rash on his face? When I see people laughing at those things I often find myself at least a little fearful of them. I suspect they must be abusive/bullies/plain old assholes.

My overreacting there has to do with my own medical trauma and young experiences of severe pain, being a patient in the pediatric ward surrounded by children dying from cancer, etc. It is bad enough to be debilitating, in some scenarios. I could not work in the medical field because of it -- so, obviously, there are major advantages to people not being this sensitive to the pain of others. Emergency rooms almost always require sedation for me.

On the other hand, I struggle to have compassion with certain common human problems that others have lots of compassion for. I was even diagnosed with obsessive compulsive personality disorder, at one point, in large part due to my lack of patience when dealing with the undisciplined behaviors of others. Some things are very black an white with me. For instance, while I can be extremely empathetic when a person is looking for help with their addictions, someone out there unaware of how his problems are affecting others is harder. I see only arrogance and selfishness. I really fight for compassion for people living in active addiction (not just drugs/alcohol, but chronic overeating and other addictions, too) who do not feel any social responsibility about it -- people who don't see how their unhealthy behaviors affect their children or community, but are often quick to talk crap about "lesser" addicts, such as the homeless, etc.

I also tend to connect with underdog children, but almost never with "normal" kids. I find myself jealous of my husband because he is great with kids, but I just can't connect with most of them.

That's obviously due to growing up with a cleft lip. And frankly, I think some of my impatience for unaddressed active addiction comes from the same place (where much of the rest comes from my mother's choices in oblivious addicts when I was growing up). I've spent my life being shit on for being "screwed up" and I prefer the adults around me own their problems. When they don't, it has historically come back to them discussing me and my problems. I think I often overuse my skills of analysis to deflate other people in my own mind, so that I don't feel inferior to them because my sense of self-worth really is that fragile. People have lots of addictions, so I can grab onto those pretty easily as evidence that they aren't exactly killin it, either, so I don't need to take their criticism particularly seriously. But, it has become a bad habit for me to have inventories of other people's shortcomings in reserve in my head, just in case. That is something I need to work on.
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
That’s a difficult one. I tend to associate compassion with a form of patience. Seeing that what you see might not be what you see, might be the result of something else. Empathy I generally don’t have the mirroring empathy very attuned. A few intense glimpses when I see sadness on someone’s face, the face of "I don’t know what is going to happen?" The lost face. That sends me immediately in trauma land and it might well be incorrect. I don’t like to see people suffering. Actually, I really detest it and I have a similar reaction as @RussellSue .

So with compassion, I take my time. I suspend my judgement. Compassion is the intentional version of empathy. With a sense of absence of oneself. Empathy is about taking the cues, and compassion responding to it with intention and see further. Also have a form of resentment towards it because I don’t sense I had a lot of compassion towards me in my childhood. It is something I developed with my own character, something I wanted to nurture because I was so depleted of it.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
For me, empathy means I understand on many levels what a person is experiencing because I too have experienced it.

Compassion to me is again, an understanding, but more of an emotional form of understanding. Doesn't always mean I'm neck-deep in feelings. Sometimes I actually hurt because that person is hurting. Because I remember what it felt like to experience what they are going thru at the moment.

Other times compassion is more intellectual. Usually, because I do not have a deep investment in that person. The more I know someone, the more likely I am to 'feel' the pain with them.

There are other times that I am shut down (for whatever myriad of reasons life gets too hard) and I FEEL nothing. But intellectually I relate to something about their situation that resonates with me. And I can express caring and concern. It's real, even when I don't FEEL it.

In the bigger picture, it is me connected to the world around me. Sometimes it's just too much and I isolate myself. In a healthy way. I have to recharge.

This is hard for me to put into words as it is as much a part of me as the color of my eyes. Sorry if none of this helped.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I consider myself to be quite compassionate. I also feel empathy and sympathy for others quite easily. That doesn't make me better or worse than anyone else. But those aspects come at a cost emotionally and psychologically. If a person is not particularly compassionate or empathetic/sympathetic then this might be due to the person being actually quite sensitive to emotions themselves. It might be to painful or even dangerous for them to take on someone else's feelings.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I think it is very hard for a child to develop empathy when in a hostile environment freely, easily and naturally. However, I have come to believe empathy is as unique as our faces are.

I remembered one time saying (under deep dissociation in therapy) something like feeling empathy for my mother would be equivalency of saying a woman being raped, should look into the eyes of the rapist and feel empathy because he is a human who is hurting from his own past...and I said that is just absolutely impossible for me and what I remembered implicitly from my relationship with my mother. The interesting thing was though, I could feel empathy for the small child I was who went through what I went through (by just changing my perception from looking at mother TO looking at childself).

Now does that mean I have no empathy? Absolutely not, its development got intruded upon and I sort of developed it in my own way through many other experiences.
I think IMHO, if you are consumed, thinking, looking, researching, wondering, trying, comparing etc etc about empathy, you are probably empathetic but it was not developed the way we understand it collectively and you have a unique way of defining it along with compassion and other expanding ways possible to every creative human.

for me, I have become quite altruistic in my life and this was my way of embedding empathy and helping others who struggle and suffer but of course a person can come along and say maybe I am compassionate not emphatic and there were many times I doubt but thank goodness I lived long enough to see it that my empathy may not be exactly same as anyone else...it is like heterosexuality...how much is much?
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
For myself I find it much as @ladee described.

Because compassion means co-passion I would call it for my self feeling for another's situation, plus action (prayer, patience or active action, forgiveness etc). It requires of me not to be selfish, or envious, or self-absorbed, aware, thoughtful etc, and to a great degree not burnt out. Plus has to be genuine. My-heart-hurts-because-I-know-your-heart-hurts, kind of way to describe. And could include feeling compassion for the person(s) feelings or situation of loss, fear, difficulty, shame, need, sadness, sorrow, embarrassment, worry etc (that the other person is experiencing).
 

Rani G2

MyPTSD Pro
A shout out (Somewhere felt in the Heart region, just don’t ask me how exactly) To all of you RussellSue, Ruborcoraxx, Ladee, Survivor3, grit and Bird_on_a_wire for sharing your perspectives and giving me sincere insight into your emotional worlds! Genuineness is transferable through words!!!!

but I feel like I swing too far the other direction in a lot of scenarios. When I see people in physical pain, I can become nonfunctional
Haven’t ever read much about Hyper empathy, almost as if one is internalizing other people’s pain/emotions until you burn out?!

Thank you for sharing RussellSue.. there are a few things I’d like to throw in here and I will get back to all of your Posts soon!

Happy New Year and Thank you very much !!!!
 

Rani G2

MyPTSD Pro
So with compassion, I take my time. I suspend my judgement. Compassion is the intentional version of empathy

You’ve summarized it well Ruborcoraxxx.. compassion has this proactive characteristic, reflectivity and actively taking on a different perspective.

Compassion to me is again, an understanding, but more of an emotional form of understanding. Doesn't always mean I'm neck-deep in feelings.
Yes Ladee the „in Neck-deep feelings“ has a dark side as well.. one is incapable (Without judgement, due to various reasons, there is this location of the individual in a certain familydynamic/ familysystem.. codependency ect ect) To draw the line between me and the other. I suppose making an attempt to understand what role that person (Also myself) has taken over in order to cope in a certain interrelationship makes it easier for me to create that distance as well. Actually it is not easy, it is work as well..
In the bigger picture, it is me connected to the world around me. Sometimes it's just too much and I isolate myself. In a healthy way. I have to recharge.
Regeneration time is always needed Ladee.. and after all that you have gone through, its fundamental!

I could feel empathy for the small child I was who went through what I went through (by just changing my perception from looking at mother TO looking at childself).
Grit, this is definitely a key point in the process, developing an awareness for my inner-self-worlds, knowing that the inner child states are dismembered, fractured into many pieces, lingering in frozen modes! So these are the crucial insights needed to bring those pieces back together.
Thank you for sharing!

person is not particularly compassionate or empathetic/sympathetic then this might be due to the person being actually quite sensitive to emotions themselves. It might be to painful or even dangerous for them to take on someone else's feelings.
Thank you Survivor for your input! There might be some truth here..
A protective barrier to get through human relationships especially when these barriers were always taken down again and again in the past violently!

You are a caring person, words are all we have to get an impression! But I can sense that!

Plus has to be genuine. My-heart-hurts-because-I-know-your-heart-hurts, kind of way to describe. And could include feeling compassion

Thank you Bird_on_a_wire! This hits the nail on the head for many!!! And that’s when my head between all the other heads misses the nail somehow..

Wishing you a good Year!
 

intothelight

Moderator
I feel compassion towards children and animals and I want to fix things so they don't suffer any more. Their suffering hurts, but when it comes to adults, I am much more guarded in my own feelings and the desire to "fix" is much less. In some ways it is safer for me to feel compassionate towards animals and children.
 

Rani G2

MyPTSD Pro
And frankly, I think some of my impatience for unaddressed active addiction comes from the same place (where much of the rest comes from my mother's choices in oblivious addicts when I was growing up). I've spent my life being shit on for being "screwed up" and I prefer the adults around me own their problems. When they don't, it has historically come back to them discussing me and my problems. I think I often overuse my skills of analysis to deflate other people in my own mind, so that I don't feel inferior to them because my sense of self-worth really is that fragile.
@RussellSue there is something crawling behind my backbrain, but I haven’t yet gathered the right words to ask you.. so I’m still in search of the words.. apologize if I sound like an imbecilic..
I will be back when I am able to piece those words together..

I want to fix things so they don't suffer any more.
Intothelight the very wanting to create change is deeply noble! ? It is compassion taken a step further
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
If a person is not particularly compassionate or empathetic/sympathetic then this might be due to the person being actually quite sensitive to emotions themselves. It might be to painful or even dangerous for them to take on someone else's feelings.
Yep. It can go as far as they might straight attack what they perceive as weak, external or internal. Emotions that got just too unbearable.
 
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