The “look” of compassion

compassion blog photo“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”


Every one of us has been hurt at some time.

When I was young girl, my dad used to tell me “everyone has a cross to bear.”  He never complained about anything, although his challenges seemed more severe than the hardships others faced.

Yet, if you looked at my dad, he was always smiling and seeing the good in others.

“Everyone has problems,” he would say, gently shrugging off his own challenges.

I have not always been able to carry the same outer image when I hurt inside, although I have been frequently recognized for my strength and kindness.

We all have stories that could cause another to shed a tear.  Here are a just a few I have witnessed as a coach and friend:

  • the mother and father who lost a child (and sometimes more than one child)
  • spouses whose partners died, often way too young
  • the friend who lost a pet, which was as dear to her as a child
  • children who grew up feeling unloved due to early abandonment or abuse
  • people who let the love of their life go because they were too scared or not ready to receive in the kindness and nurturance of another
  • smart and successful people who lost it all through the recession, and later through age discrimination when the wisdom and life experience of a baby boomer was not valued over the promise of youth
  • kind and loving people betrayed by others who lacked the character to stay through “thick and thin” and sought refuge in the arms of another instead of deep in their souls
  • “givers” who helped others at the expense of themselves, not knowing that it is OK and healthy to be kind to ourselves first so we give from a full tank
  • people touched unexpectedly by physical challenges or life-threatening illnesses in the prime of their life

Some of us had harder lives than others, but no one escapes life untouched by pain and suffering.  The well-groomed man or woman who live in the beautiful home, the accomplished professional and all those others the media splashes before us as role models all have their own stories.  We sometimes make the mistake of comparing ourselves to idealistic images, making ourselves feel “less than.”  In truth, we are all enough “as is,” with our human frailties and imperfections.

If we approached each person knowing that they, too, have endured a life trial at some point—or may be confronting a major challenge at the very moment they cross our path—perhaps we can more fully grasp we are all truly one, in this life journey of growth and learning on earth together.  Suspending judgment is one way to begin to live more open-heartedly.

Most importantly, we also benefit by bringing the same compassion we give to others to ourselves.  The harder we are on ourselves, the harder we are often on other people. The kinder we are to ourselves, the kinder we can be to others.

Take a moment now, look within, and ask the hurt or even strong parts of yourself, what gentle act or words do you need to receive?  Do you need to forgive yourself or another?  Do you need some encouragement?  Can you lighten up and move on, choosing something fun or rewarding to do to create a new life story?

Then, using those same insights about yourself, give the same “look” of compassion to all who cross your path today.

May you be blessed with self-acceptance and unconditional love as you expand your heart by reflecting back compassion instead of judgment.

With openness,



1.    I allow myself to stop making negative, judgmental assumptions about people I encounter.

2.    I allow myself to look for the good and respect the journey of all whom cross my path.

3.    I allow myself to hold and honor myself with kindness, gentleness and compassion.

 The portrait of Beth Shedd’s daughter, Emily, reflects the kind of compassion we can give to ourselves and others.  A gentle practice of kindness will lead us towards more open-hearted living.


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  • Kim says:

    Perfect blog for me right now,thank you.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Glad it arrived in a moment when you needed to hear the message…wishing you a gentle day. Gail

  • Elissa says:


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