Compassion means you care enough to engage in creative conflict with someone.
Many people misunderstand compassion to be entirely about empathy, sympathy, caring, support, and doing good for others. Quite the contrary. The Latin root of the word means “to struggle (or suffer) with.” Sounds a lot like Michael Meade’s story of co-petition from my earlier post. Compassion definitely includes a heart-felt care for another, however, this caring is translated into co-struggling.
Compassion is hard work. It means to get in the trenches with another person, suffer together, and share in the difficult responsibility of creating something amazing through conflict. Compassion does not mean doing it for them, rescuing them, or avoiding accountability. Compassion means you care enough to engage in creative conflict with someone.
what happens when people misuse the energy of conflict to struggle against themselves or each other, with or without awareness, to justify their harmful behavior.
the process of using the energy of conflict to struggle with others in a spirit of dignity to create something new.
What do these definitions have in common? Struggling! People often ask me, “So when I read your book, attend your seminars and apply the concepts, my life will get easier, right?”
Wrong. The struggle will not go away. Conflict will not disappear. But I can guarantee that you will have more authentic, productive relationships and feel more purposeful and fulfilled at the end of the day.
Things to ponder
- When conflict comes knocking, do you struggle against yourself or others in drama, or with others in compassion? How does usually turn out?
- When have you struggled together with someone during conflict? How did it affect your relationship?