The 2 Types of Compassion

two young women lying down, their blond and brunette hair cascading down stone steps.

Learning about the 2 types of compassion was really useful in understanding where I remain stuck and in victim mode.

When I was in my twenties and thirties, I loved being surrounded by friends who “understood” me. Naive and immature as I was, I didn’t realize that these friendships were not authentic and didn’t serve my best interests. Here’s a story to illustrate what I mean.

Mona was a close friend of mine, a part of my inner circle.  So we did everything together. And we called each other and chatted on the phone for hours (remember the days of one landline and a long cord??!!).

But one fine day, Mona stopped talking to me. She turned away when I approached her, refused to take my calls, and wouldn’t even make eye contact.

It was an abrupt and painful ending…and I had no clue what I’d done or why she was treating me that way.

So, of course, I gathered a bunch of friends who would listen and shared with them the sad story of my exclusion from Mona’s life.

They listened, and they said all the things I wanted to hear them say.

  • “How mean she is to do that to you!”
  • “Who does she think she is?!”
  • “You don’t need her; you have us.”

And, of course, I glowed, gloated, and grabbed every bit of this sympathetic attention I got. My friends were the best. They played and partied with me in victim land.

I don’t have friends like these today. And with good reason.

I realize now that what my friends were offering me was “Idiot Compassion.” Here’s what Idiot Compassion looks like.

  1. It feeds your ego with everything you want to hear other people to say.
  2. It never encourages you to investigate how to remedy the situation.
  3. It keeps you stuck in victim land where you blame and point fingers. You never have to change because it’s always “someone else’s fault.” 

This serves nobody. Not the one who is hurt; not the one who caused the hurt. So, what’s the alternative?

There is a better way and that is called Wise Compassion. When someone offers us wise compassion, they encourage us to look inward by asking good questions.

  1. What’s the best way to open a conversation with Mona?
  2. Can you find a way to forgive her for what she did to you?
  3. What feelings of rejection is this bringing up for you?

The 2 types of compassion have helped me make wise choices about where I need to take ownership. These days, I like my friends to point me to the truth of where I need to take responsibility for what happened and how I can move forward.

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