To live with compassion, we must give up control.
The thought of giving up control sends shivers down the spines of parents everywhere.
The idea of compassion sounds amazing in theory, but really really hard in practice – especially with teens who are in turmoil and lashing out at you.
So pairing these two concepts together may require you to take a deep breath before diving in. However let me reassure you, the light at the end of this tunnel is ever so bright.
What does compassion mean to you?
Does it mean extending love and grace even when it feels yucky to do so?
Is it taking the high road?
Is it being sympathetic to someones pain?
Is it listening and offering kind reassurances?
Is it giving a hug?
It’s easy to equate compassion with kindness; being empathetic, offering loving support, and being present for someone in turmoil.
But what about being able to accomplish those things when in the midst of a disagreement with someone who is clearly wrong? Who is being rude? Who is slinging attitude and back talk at you?
In moments like that, without realizing it, we actually switch from compassion to control.
Let me gently educate them on why their perspective is flawed so that we can come to a resolution…
Let me teach them how to soothe themselves so they aren’t so angsty…
Let me set boundaries so their backtalk ceases…
Let me guide them on how to be kind, respectful and compassionate…towards ME in this conversation.
We don’t notice that in difficult situations or disagreements we often switch our focus from the other person and what they are going through, on to US and what we are experiencing and what OUR needs are in that difficult moment. We try to control the other persons experience so that OUR experience is easier and more pleasant.
To live with compassion we must give up control. Which is to say we must remove ourselves from the centre and place the focus back on to others.
Compassion doesn’t always require kind platitudes, a pat on the shoulder, a hug, or reassurances that all will work out. Sometimes things don’t work out.
Compassion is recognizing that every human (yes, even your angsty, back-talking, attitude laden teens!!) is deserving of equity, justice, and respect.
Compassion means meeting people where they are without trying to fix them, but rather seeking to understand them so that the relationship between you is the priority.
Compassion can be extended even to people who are wrong and hurtful, simply by asking yourself: What is motivating their behaviour right now?
What is in their backstory or experience that I may not realize?
If I were in their exact shoes, would I perhaps understand better what they are needing and seeking through this type of behaviour? Can I put myself in those shoes?
Can I be present with them in this moment with no expectations on them, but just because I value them as a person and want them to know that?
How would that enhance our relationship?
Can I make this about them and not myself?
Compassion means putting yourself in other people’s shoes and just trying to get to know their humanity.
I realize that this all sounds very lofty and philosophical. And you want strategy to deal with a teen in crisis, or with high anxiety, or with attitude that won’t quit.
Here is an idea to ponder and experiment with:
I am offering you the possibility that simply being with them and asking yourself what is driving them to these feelings and behaviours will make a world of difference in the quality of your connection.
How amazing would it feel to let go of power struggles so you can both really come together and meet each other’s needs?