Fighting us may be how the hurt operate,
There’s a reason within them that makes them berate,
If we can bear in mind the cause of their attack,
We can find a response to deal with our lack.
Sometimes people have been so hurt they are, temporarily at least, unreachable from within themselves. Their hurt propagates into hurting others, especially perhaps us; those who may genuinely attempt to help.
Still, it’s hard to have compassion on someone who virulently attacks us. This is why we must bear in mind the cause of their attack. It’s not about us at all.
What Is Personal Is Never Personal
Here is a golden paradox to enrol ourselves upon. When we’re attacked it feels personal, but so rarely is it ever really personal. The instant we take their frame of reference, slipping inside their skin, feeling with their heart and thinking with their mind, with all they have dealt with, because we know what we’ve dealt with, we begin to understand. Yet, we’ll never completely understand.
Such a paradox is an enigma. We’re easily fooled into defence via counter-attack.
The best counter-attack, however, is meeting the hurt person in compassion, no matter what. In this way, love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). If we can be beyond hurt, reminding ourselves that their attack is not personal, no matter how personal it feels, we’re able to think as Jesus would.
With an acute mindset of how it might feel to be them, in that moment, the compassion-of-empathy becomes our instinctual response.
When we’re consistently able to love the person back with our compassion it gradually dissolves their bristling insurgence of hurt. Defences drop. Trust is gradually engendered. It was all because we took the time, patiently, to demonstrate our unparalleled respect.
When Empathy Is Easy
There is a great deal of suffering in our world; much visible suffering, but also much existential suffering. People suffer just in the living of life. As we begin to dwell on the effort and difficulty and challenge of life, being honest about our own struggles, we can see others’ struggles in a new light.
It’s a paradox of blessing to be so intimately aware of suffering. It sounds like a sad life; nothing could be further from the truth.
As we repeal the desire to be consciously happy, connecting instead with the fatigue, loneliness, struggle, and sense of defeat in others, we gain a potent sense of empathy for everyday suffering.
Then, we can hear their hurt; we feel their pain; we see with new eyes.
Only a raw and honest empathy has credibility. It relies on genuine compassion. We cannot, and should never want to, fake this.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.