Last night, whilst managing ten seven year olds, I just took the approach of: repository of information.
… Jamie won’t share his iPad and was rude to me!”
…Lauren is crying on the couch because we won’t play a game with her!”
…Noelle punched me in the stomach and I can’t breathe!”
…I need to go to the toilet”
…my eyeliner is smudged; I have nail varnish on my face; I dropped the blusher”.
…my mum said I have to clean my teeth and be in bed by 9!”
To all of which I just said “ok, thanks for letting me know”.
And I did nothing about any of it.
I just acknowledged the statement and carried on doing what I was doing, which mostly comprised playing very loud music, managing text messages from parents and picking up sweet wrappers.
It made for a largely unstressful situation the “not reacting” approach.
Later, when my daughter got very upset (she being the victim of the nail varnish on the face incident) I just settled in to my acknowledge only approach. For sanity.
She literally talked at me for five minutes, partly sobbing, then kicking my bed, and talked herself in a huge circle before wandering off. I didn’t need to say a thing! Two minutes later she was outside laughing and playing.
It got me to thinking about compassion. Meaning “suffering together”.
Sometimes compassion for others can be as simple as acknowledging. Just saying thanks for sharing, or thanks for letting me know. Feeling the pain and sharing it but not doing anything. The hippies are big on this.
There is no duty to do anything born from some compassion. Just sharing and connecting is all that is required.
I wonder how often I do this with self-compassion. Do I ever just acknowledge my pain and feel it and stay connected to myself? Without trying to make it go away? Hardly! Or, do I each time I feel pain find an age old strategy to avoid it, sooth it, ignore it or otherwise get it away as fast as possible.
Suffering together can be a problem if once you take on someone’s pain you are compelled to do something to help them. And mostly you can’t, so it’s frustrating to them and to you.
I don’t know if there’s a correlation between a tendency to take on others pain and then desire to help them to fix it, and the extent to which you do this in yourself.
Or if you can master the skill of compassion-without-action for others, whether it becomes easier to do it on your own self.
In any case, my guess is compassion without action (external and internal) is key to much enlightenment. Despite that it feels counter intuitive.