When Compassion is a Really Bad Idea
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.
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.
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.
These days, I only have friends who can point me to the truth of where I need to take responsibility for what happened and how I can move forward.
What kinds of friends do you have? Let me know in the comments.
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