Compassion not Complacency

Sometimes, in the search for harmony and peace and learning to be happy with what we have we go too far. We put up with situations that aren't healthy and aren't necessary. I'm talking about love partnerships here mostly though I'm sure these ideas could be applied to any human relationship.

While I think it's important to realise that we can have peace and contentment within the normal ups and downs of life I wanted to clarify that there is a certain balance to be had. That sometimes you need to make a change. When I talk of letting life flow I don't mean be complacent or a doormat, I mean make any changes you want, you have the free will to do so, but use your intuition as your guide and let life lead you to that good place.

I've just been made aware of a "friend" who is in a relationship with a very negative person. This person seems to make his entire existence about tearing down and destroying any sense of peace she tries to establish. She is a wonderful person trying to be peaceful and content while in the throes of this negative relationship.

She somehow feels she should be able to deal with his negativity through self-awareness and that somehow this is her failure. She has a multitude of reasons to stay but none of them seem to take into account her value as a divine member of humanity deserving of a peaceful place in this world.

There is a saying "you can only fix you" and I believe that it's true. However sometimes it leads people to believe you have to stay and work on you and put up with whatever unhealthy things come your way. Parts of this is true, we must all find a way to deal with the negative things, the shortcomings of our partners, our family and friends and a good partner is certainly worth the effort. If however, you are partnered with a person who takes more than they give, who creates an environment of negativity that is above and beyond normal human disgruntlement, then we have to decide if the partnership is worth salvaging.

If your car broke down on the highway would you fix it right there with traffic zooming by endangering your life? No, you would have it towed to a safe place first and then work on fixing it. Same goes for us. Yes we can only fix ourselves, not others and that can go a long way if your relationship is with another compassionate person who is happy to allow you to. If, however, your partner is not able to allow you to grow and be your authentic self you may have to continue your growth alone.

I remember reading about some Buddhist monks who were captured and treated terribly, held in horrible conditions and brutally tortured. When questioned after about their experience the said that they were in great pain and danger but the greatest danger to them were that they might lose compassion for their captors.

I've often thought of that and while I can feel great admiration at their personal development and compassionate nature, what stands out for me is not that they could feel compassion for their torturers so much as these were their captors, they didn't choose to be there. Some have used this as an example as to how we can live in dire circumstances with peace. I agree it can be seen as a great example of that. But when they were released they didn't beg to stay. That's very telling. You do not have to stay where you are being treated badly, you are not a captive although at times you may feel like one.

If your circumstance in life is truly difficult. If the person or people, family, relationships, friends, are truly negative and abusive towards you it is perfectly OK to step away from those relationships. You can continue to have love and compassion for them but from a distance.

I talk a lot about serving our fellow human but sometimes the best service we can do for someone is to let them be, let them fall, let them learn how to get up on their own two feet and walk their own journey.

Do not let your compassion for others trap you in a situation that is dangerous to your spirit and your life. If there is an earthquake on the other side of the world do you not feel compassion for those people? So if compassion can be felt for people on the other side of the earth you certainly don't have to share a home with a person to feel compassion for them. Don't let people take advantage of your kind nature.

I like this example. If you get gold fish and put them in a little jar, they will only grow as big as is naturally comfortable for them. If you put them in a bigger jar they will grow bigger and if you put them in a big pond they will grow bigger still. We are like the fish. Don't allow yourself to be trapped in a little jar. If you are in a relationship, be in one that lets you experience all the growth you need to be a fulfilled person. And do the same for your partner.

Do not forget, you are a divine, wonderful spirit truly deserving of a happy and peaceful life, set yourself up in the situation that best allows you to grow and improve and it will serve all involved in a positive way in the long run, even the person you've chosen to love from afar.

Thank you Double-Dophin for the musical suggestion Two Beds and a Coffee Machine


Wow. Thank you. This means more than you know.
I hope it helps at least a little bit.

Deepanjan Ghosh said…
I had a colleague who was involved in a relationship, where the guy was younger than her, was an alcoholic and drug addict, used to live off her money, and used to hit her. For some reason she chose to stick on with this guy! It was awful. She'd come to office every once in a while with bruises, and black eyes, and say she fell, or bumped into a door. Horrible stuff! She has finally had the good sense to end the relationship.

I don't think the example of the monks really applies here, because I don't think you can stay in a relationship with someone purely out of compassion for the person. I mean, you're lovers right? Not nurse and patient?! Lovers should be, IMHO, equals, which is clearly not the case here. The smart thing to do is to end it.
The example of monks absolutely applies in the context I've used it. My point was that the monks were captured but once they could leave, they did. This example has been used to show how to have compassion for those who harm you and my point is that they had no choice but to be there but once they had the choice they moved on. Most people focus on the capacity for compassion they had, I don't focus on that, I think while their boundless compassion is admirable the true lesson is that they left as soon as they reasonable and safely could.

And many people do choose to stay in abusive relationships out of compassion for the person they live with, particularly emotionally abusive partners..the partner will use that compassion against them time and again to keep them from going, particulary if there are children involved. I know because I've lived it. I didn't want to hurt my ex husband and he knew it. I didn't want to put my children through difficult times but eventually I knew it was actually more compassionate to take them and leave then to keep them there.

It's an insidious and multifaceted and complicated situation that involves cohersion and fear.

The smart thing might be to end it and if life were black and white and uncomplicated that would appear to be obvious. Once you're in it and living it though, with children and property and fear and emotion, the shades of grey make it much more difficult.

Deepanjan Ghosh said…
@ Breeze - yes, nothing, is simple. Children make things considerably more complicated. And it's difficult to leave someone whom you used to love, no matter what they are like now. Human relationships are never simple, they are never black and white. But how much can you give without regard for yourself? I am much younger than you, have never been married, and do not have children. But I have been in a relationship which was, atleast psychologically, absolute torture. In the end, she ended it, not me. I was younger still, back then, and stupid. But have learnt some lessons since then.

I guess you are a much more compassionate, much more "giving" person than I am. I snap easier than other people.
It appears we are saying the same thing Dolphin. I'm saying get out. You are saying get out. I'm saying compassion does not serve you if you allow it to become erroneous. You are saying the same.

It's not about who is more kind and compassionate, it's about knowing its OK to leave inspite of feeling love and compassion for the person you are leaving. It's validating that they are important enough to step away from a difficult person.

And yes, it's hard to leave someone you used to love and even harder to leave someone you still love.

But it's OK to do so if that's what your heart and soul need to do for it's wellbeing.

So we are in agreement I believe.

Deepanjan Ghosh said…
We are, I guess. Actually, I navigated over to her blog, and read her post. I just felt this massive anger welling up inside me. And it's so sad, when people fall in love, get married, and then it turns out this way. I can't imagine what it must feel like. Anyways, I hope she will find the strength needed to see this through. It's probably a little corny, but I suddenly find myself thinking of the song "Two Beds and a Coffee Machine".
Ah..Dear Dolphin, my sweet young man, don't ever doubt your capacity for compassion..only great compassion can lead to great anger such as you felt.

And yes, it's very very sad.

That song is so appropriate and not corny at all. Perfect.
Debbie said…
I lived that story! I escaped that story..and looking back i see things SOOO differently then when i was in the 'story'. I wish now I could impart my truths..its hard when I speak to woman still there!! Its so hard..because i know they don't see it! and now...based on truth..I see it!! wish they could to....
Yes Debbie. That is exactly how it is. We each have to live our own truths but it does help you know, I look back on the time when things were rough for me and those that showed compassion and understanding gave me more than those who showed judgement were the ones who carried me through and helped more than they'll ever know. So keep sharing.

Cheryl said…
Breeze, finding your power of observation awesome.
There was a time that I was in that very situation. I had the courage to walk away taking my child with me. We remained friends and he, once again, became the person with whom I fell in love.
He made the decision to that my breast cancer journey would be 'our' journey.
So what has happened to change that now? A set of circumstances and a past that he has chosen to 'lock' himself into.
I am ready, willing and able to walk should I feel that my health and wellbeing is being compromised.
I give thanks every day for my inner strength and resolve knowing that I have been given everything needed to walk the walk with or without a partner. No partner is far superior to an abusive one.
Big thank you for raising this very important matter.
May your days be filled with sunshine and laughter....
skywind said…
In my opinion, a true friend you are referring to in difficult times be able to assist you selfless person.
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