Compassion Illustration two headsWhen I write I realise that the subject is so multi-faceted that I have to concentrate on one aspect and keep to the subject.

In my last blog I wrote about taking responsibility for our behaviour rather than taking responsibility for the feelings experienced by another as a response to our behaviour.  Being shaped by our experience rather than defined by it.  It has triggered a few interesting conversations.

Does my premise mean we should all just go around doing what we want and saying ‘Well I’m not responsible for how you feel’?  No of course not.  I was making the point that we are all responsible for ourselves. We make others the victim and ‘less than’ if we say ‘I can control how you feel’.   We empower them if we allow them to choose how they feel.

The reality is that empowered, self-confident, self-actualised people do not go around doing whatever they want without considering the feelings of others.

Does this mean they are not authentic?

Sometimes we will choose not to say or do something because we know that the other will be hurt or upset by our honesty or actions.  Compassion and consideration are equally important human traits to honesty and authenticity.

How do we judge whether we act in our best interest or in the best interest of the other? I think it comes down to how important it is to us, i.e. whether we feel it is negotiable and how charged an issue it is.  Also, how far we are willing to give up our needs and how long we have been doing that for.  Conversely, sometimes giving up our own needs willingly.  It is how we show we care about another and we make the choice to do it.

A relationship is about negotiation.  What am I willing to do or be with you and what are you willing to do or be for me?  – back to Virginia Satir – if we can meet in the middle, or one of us is willing to compromise then we can move forward.

Not everyone can see the other’s view or is willing to meet in the middle.  Sometimes the goodwill has been worn down.  Sometimes the polarity is too strong. Sometimes, it’s too late.

Generally, I think people bump along together.  We are willing to accept other people’s characteristics which are not our own.  We choose our friends, compromise in our intimate relationships and negotiate with our colleagues.  That’s the way of the world.  We have to get on. It’s part of being social.  Doing it with self-awareness and knowing what is non-negotiable for us is the key.

It comes down to our values, how we live authentically, what we are and are not willing to give up to achieve that and the choices and decisions we need to make.

As always, I love to hear from you – email me at talktome@elaineflook.com and let me know your thoughts.