No matter where you are in the world or what you’re doing, you can always spread compassion.
Story by Georgianna Lee • Illustrations by Kateryna Kovarzh
You have the power to change the world for the better. One moment at a time. One interaction at a time. All it takes is some intention and practice.
Even if you don’t have time to help stock the shelves at the food bank or have money to donate to the village with no running water, you always have compassion. Simple acts of kindness and compassion, toward yourself and others, make a difference. The more compassion you give yourself, the more compassion you’ll be able to offer others.
Ready to start growing your compassion muscle? Give these a try:
Choose your words wisely.
Words matter. What you say to yourself is powerful. It can raise you up or bring you down. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend or a loved one, don’t say it to yourself. Try asking: What’s something kinder that I could say to myself right now?
Give yourself permission to be human.
It’s OK to not “have it all together.” It’s OK to cry. Or feel angry and jealous. It’s OK to mess up. These are all human experiences. Bringing warmth and kindness to these very human parts of yourself makes it easier for you to accept and understand others when you see these parts in them. That’s where true compassion comes alive.
Shift your expectations to match reality.
You wouldn’t expect your car to offer you a safe and smooth ride with a flat tire, would you? Yet, you expect yourself to perform and achieve at the same level no matter how you’re feeling or what you’re going through in life. The bigger the gap between your expectations and your reality, the bigger your frustration. Take a look at what’s going on in your life right now and change your expectations to fit your reality. Set yourself up for success!
Let people help you.
Asking for help can feel really hard. We think we should be able to do it all ourselves. Yet, there are people who want to help and support you. I bet you’ve said no to them many times. It’s time to start saying yes to help! You know how good it feels to help others. Learn to let them give to you. Also, the next time you receive a compliment, say a loud and proud thank you and let their praise sink in.
Learn to forgive yourself.
We can be so hard on ourselves and the people we love. As you learn to be more forgiving of yourself, it’ll feel easier to offer your forgiveness to others. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all been unkind. The important thing is to take responsibility and do better in the future. Endlessly shaming yourself doesn’t make the world a better place. So practice forgiving yourself and take action to repair what you messed up.
Share your heart with others.
Tell others what you appreciate about them. Remind them of what you’ve learned from them. Share how they’ve inspired you. Your words have the power to lift someone’s spirits and change your day too! Choose someone to appreciate today. You might even inspire them to share their heart with someone too.
See the innocent child within.
We were all innocent as children. We wanted to be held and loved. We wanted to play and discover our world. When you’re upset with someone, try to imagine them as a young child. See their innocence. And allow that to help you tap into a softer part of your heart. (The next time you’re having a hard time, practice seeing the innocent child in you.)
What’s great about you? What do others admire and love about you? What are you proud of yourself for? Take time each day to give yourself some love and appreciation. Practice being your own cheerleader! The more you own your greatness, the more you can share it with the world.
Turn your judgments into curiosity.
When you notice yourself judging someone, ask yourself: What might they be going through? How might they be feeling? What are they needing and not getting that’s led them to act this way? Curiosity helps us move past surface behaviors to see the person behind the actions. To see their vulnerability. It reminds us that underneath it all, we have more in common than we realize. (When you’re judging yourself, practice being curious.)
Look for the good intentions.
When someone messes up, challenge yourself to look for their good intentions. It doesn’t mean that you’re OK with what they did. You might need to set some boundaries or tell them how they impacted you, but doing so from a place of seeing their good intentions makes these moments more peaceful. (When you mess up, practice seeing your own good intentions.)
Remember, doing new things feels awkward and it takes practice. Over time, you’ll notice how good it feels to be kinder to yourself. The kindness and compassion you show yourself ripples out to others. And that’s how you create change, one compassionate moment at a time.
Georgianna Lee is a counselor and coach whose passion is to help people cultivate self-acceptance, self-compassion and nervous system regulation skills so they can move through life with more ease and courage. She supports parents in creating strong and healthy relationships with their children so each child grows up with a deep sense of self-worth, confidence, trust in those who love them and in the world. Georgianna is the proud mama of two boys. Her magical places are the forest and the ocean, where she goes to connect with the beauty of the world and her feisty and sweet little inner child.
For more information, visit georgiannalee.com.
This story originally appeared in the June/July 2021 issue of Kiwanis magazine.