Compassion literllay means "to suffer together". Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you're confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. Even compassion is related to empathy or altruism, or self-sacrifice.Actually they are not the same. Compassion is greatly involved in relationships. When you're involved in "high maintenance" relationships, you need to be clear the concept of "compassion" very clearly.
If you're like most people, you care a great deal about your spouse as well as others with whom you have a close relationship. You probably want nothing more than to be compassionate and caring with them. We agree that nurturing, love and respect are all important components of creating a healthy marital relationship or any relationships for that matter. What happens when one spouse doesn't seem to have the same values? Would it be possibel to create a healthy union when one person refues to, or for some reason cannot fully cooperate in the process?
If this sounds familiar, you'll probably feel frustrated and wonder if this relationship is supporting you and the kind of life you want to have? You might even feel guilty about having these concerns and think that you should be caring and compassionate all the time. When you're in situations similar to this, think about the points as below:
Compassion does not equal self-sacrifice
The sense of comfusing compassion with self-sacrifice comes from a misunderstanding about the true meaning of compassion and caring. In the minds of many individuals, empathy and compassion are associated with self-sacrifice and selflessness. People always think that if you're a compassionate person, you always behave lovingly and are able to patiently listen regardless of how you feel.
The notion that one should be selfless and just sacrifice their feelings for the sake of getting along is far from the true meaning of compassion. This can be especially difficult when you're embroiled in a relationship that is creating hurt feelings and other kinds of emotional pain.
Most people want to cultivate compassion and learn empathetic listening skills to enhance their relationships, to create closeness and understanding. This can only happen when you actually want to do this, when emphathizing with the other person is the most wonderful thing you can imagine doing at that moment.
Empathy means placing all your attention on listening for the underlying values of a person. It is not just something we offer to other people. In our real life, we find that there're many people leave themselves out of the empathy exchange and forget about listening patiently and lovingly to themselves. Before expressing your empathy feeling to others, empathy to yourself is a vital ingredient in learning to understand yourself so you can stay true to what's most important to you. This is an essential building block for creating closeness and understanding with others, including your spouse.
"Empathy from hell" is not beneficial
If you attempt to listen empathically to another person when it's painful for you to do so, things will go into two directions.
First, you'll probably feel resentment and become judgmental about that person and their behavior. You're under controlling of this feeling because you're not being honest with yourself that you'd rather be doing something else. In this condition, you tend to be easy to blame others for the lack of happiness you feel with thoughts such as they would only stop complaining, think in a positive perspective, stop being so negative...;
Second, if you're listening when you really don't want to, you can be sure that the other person will eventually sense the resentment and judgmental attitude. What happens then is exactly the opposite of what you really desire. This will destroy any hope of a healthy and happy communication about the problem.
Effectively dealing with this situation of giving empathy from hell will probably take you out of your comfort zone, at least at the beginning. You start by giving yourself permission to put yourself first which sometimes means not sitting patiently to listen to your spouse. You should allow yourself to throw your guilt and preconceived ideas about compassion out the window under your sacred spirit selfishness.
You do this by being honest with yourself about how you feel. You assess what's most important to you in each moment. You should never attemp to empathize with another person unless it's the most wonderful thing you can imagine doing at this moment.
You're suggested to start using your emotions as your guide,being true to what would give you joy in the moment is one of the most important first steps you can take to create the closeness and understanding your desire in a relationship.
As long as you're honest with yourself about how you're and what you want, it's easier to accept others as they're. This is the key step to save your relationship with your spouse, especially if you believe they're not putting in their fair share of the work mending the relationship.