Happy New Year, friends!
This New Year, I resolve to create a more compassionate world. Both within myself and outside myself, I see a desperate need for deeper understanding and healing. Look out next week for the announcement of my first virtual workshop; it aims to help perfectionism grow compassion within themselves. This Illuminate will challenge all of us to take a concrete step in building a more compassionate world.
This story is from one of my beloved teachers, Tara Brach:
‘Imagine you are walking in the woods and you see a small dog sitting by a tree. As you approach it, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared. You are frightened and angry. But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap. Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern: You see that the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain. This applies to all of us. When we behave in hurtful ways, it is because we are caught in some kind of trap.’
Emotional intelligence is peeking beneath the surface of an emotion (even anger!) to understand the vulnerability and pain from which the emotion explodes. In a sense, we all, at times, have been that lunging, teeth-baring dog—reacting from pain and hurt in ways that cause more pain and more hurt.
But with emotional intelligence, we can learn to see that pain and hurt in ourselves before reacting by lashing out. We can learn to pause. We can learn to zoom out from our own sharp teeth and lunging legs. We can learn to zoom out far enough to see the trap. Then we can learn to dismantle the trap. Then we can learn to recognize and help dismantle the traps of others. Slowly, we will begin to soulfully heal the wounds of this entrapped world.
We will build a more compassionate world.
Let’s take a step in building that world today.
Building a more compassionate world isn’t just something we can say we want to build. We have to actively BUILD it. This ‘Object of Compassion’ activity will help you practice seeing the traps in someone else’s world (while also building your own muscles of compassion).
1: Who is your Object of Compassion?
Think forward into your week. Who will you see or talk to this week who lunges and bares their teeth like the little dog in the woods? Do you have someone in mind? Good. They will be your ‘Object of Compassion’.
2: Become an EQ Scientist…
Make a mini-New Year’s Resolution for yourself right now: The next time you interact you’re your Object of Compassion, zoom out on their behavior. Become an emotional intelligence scientist; notice, study, and measure how they act.
3: Look for the traps
Then, start to look for their traps. Just think to yourself: Why do they act the way they do?
4: Go deeper?
Open up your heart of compassion. Depending on your relationship with them, you may want to stop at observing their behavior. Or, you may want to ask them a few questions to better understand their trap, like, ‘you seem really frustrated right now. Is it because you don’t like it when I’m late?’ You decide, based on your relationship with them, how deep is appropriate and compassionate to go.
REFRESH + RENEW EVERY MONDAY WITH ILLUMINATE IN YOUR INBOX!
In the story of the dog in the woods, what might have happened if you hadn’t noticed the trap on its foot?
How do you feel thinking about your next interaction with your Object of Compassion?
After you do the Activate exercise, you can ask yourself these questions:
How did it feel to simply sit back and notice your Object of Compassion’s behaviors?
How might you go through the world paying slightly more attention to traps vs behaviors?
PS- want to learn more about compassion? Increasing Empathy is one of Six Seconds’ eight emotional intelligence competencies. Learn more about it here.
Happy New Year!
Illuminate is a weekly e-mail series that provides practical tips + galvanizing inspirations for practicing an emotionally intelligent life. In our time together, we’ll operate from the assumption that you have all the wisdom you need inside of yourself + that you have a purpose the world needs to see. We will explore the tools + techniques to illuminate your own inner wisdom and purpose. If you’d like to receive this free gift of goodness in your inbox every week, subscribe here.
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