Compassion: A Counter-Intuitive Path to Peace.
Have you looked at the world around you lately? Are you seeing what I'm seeing? I see a lot of pain. I see conflict, tension, and differences, that have turned into hostility, disdain, and ruptured relationships. What part of your life do you think of when you read those words:
conflict, tension, differences
hostility, disdain, and ruptured relationships?
Maybe your thoughts go to work relationships where tensions have flared up and divisions between factions in the team are widening. Maybe you think about a siblings with whom you have a complicated (at best) or contentious relationship. Maybe your thoughts went directly to the political and racial divisions in the United States (and you can't even believe I would wait to list it third in the paragraph)! In quieter moments, you might even recognize those words as descriptors of your relationship with yourself. I confess my inner thesaurus is energized by finding synonyms for "conflict," "tension," "differences," "division" and the resulting "hostility," "distain," and "ruptured relationships" (I hope that is simply evidence I like words!). As much as I want to keep those lists of words growing, I could just as easily write instead about the absence of peace in us and around us. Like you, I have experienced the absence of peace with coworkers, family, friends, and anonymous others on social media. Like you, my soul longs for peace, and I know how depleting it can be to live without it.
When I was completing my training as a coach, we read two books that address this human longing for peace: The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict and Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. The insights offered in these two books rang so true to me that I come back to them over and over again. They have shaped how I understand conflict and the resulting loss of peace. More than that, they have given me tools to work with to address conflict--tools which have helped me honor myself and others and then grow in peace! I have found them so transformative that I have designed a 5-week online group learning experience (aka interactive course) around the key ideas and tools in these books. Moreover, I am convinced that the focus of my work through Anderful Life needs to center on helping people grow in peace in all facets of their lives.
In my studies, I am learning that growing in peace requires growing in compassion for ourselves and others. Consider this insight from The Anatomy of Peace,
In the way we regard our children, our spouses, neighbors, colleagues, and strangers, we choose to see others either as people like ourselves or as objects....[when] we regard them as we regard ourselves, we say our hearts are at peace toward them" (2015, p. 31).
I find myself asking whether I am really seeing others with my heart at peace. To answer "yes," I have to see the other person as someone with value, I have to honor their humanity (the good, the bad, the ugly), and recognize their inherent worth. Recognize the value in others, however, requires me to do the work necessary to see and honor my own humanity. I have to see myself for who I really am (the good, the bad, and the ugly in my own life) through a lens of compassion. When I see myself, warts and all as they say, but still can recognize my value, then I can extend that same compassion to others. I honor myself and honor others as human beings with inherent value--even if we're also mix of gifts and flaws. Nonviolent communication (aka NVC or Compassionate Communication) helps me understand who I am and take responsibility for my needs, feelings, and how I speak to others. It helps me extend compassion to myself and others. All of this strikes me as counter-intuitive. On some level, I want to believe that peace will come when other people change...when they wise up...when they start being nicer...when they _______ (fill in the blank). The problem is that I don't have any control over other people. None. Zero. Not a lick. If I'm waiting for others to change in order for me to find peace, I'm stuck. It's not going to happen. Instead, I'm choosing to look honestly at my own life to see how I can be a force for peace. I'm increasingly convinced that it comes by honoring my own humanity and the humanity of others, and then speaking from compassion and living from a heart at peace. [I'll say more about this in future blog posts.] Honor. Compassion. Peace. These are the things I want to mark my life, and they are the attributes I want YOU to experience in abundance. They are the driving force behind Anderful Life, and my reason for working as a life coach and offering the upcoming course: "honoring self. honoring others. growing in peace."
I don't believe conflict, division, derision, and ruptured relationships need to be the norm in our lives. We can develop the tools needed to live with hearts at peace and interact with ourselves and others from a place of honor and compassion. Join me, and my work through Anderful Life, to learn more and develop the tools to live a life marked by honor, compassion, and peace.