What is compassion?
“Compassion is a state of being in which we can feel from within our own experience sorrow, empathy, care for another human being,” Dr. Barbara Vacarr, CEO of Kripalu, Center for Yoga & Health, tells SheKnows. “It becomes the vehicle that connects us.”
And according to Dr. Kristen UnKauf, a counselor at Northlake Medical Psychology and Counseling in Mandeville, Louisiana, the best way to start connecting compassionately is to acknowledge the experience of another person.
“I think that most if not all people want someone to ‘get’ them — understand the impact of negative experience,” she tells SheKnows. “Awareness is key. Ask questions — ‘What is this experience like for you; how can I help?’”
Sure, your uncle may be totally trolling you based on your last politically driven Facebook post, but instead of getting fired up and flinging mashed potatoes at him, you might be surprised at what you learn if you ask him questions about his beliefs rather than tuning him out or telling him he’s wrong. UnKauf warns against intolerance of others’ points of view, as this intolerance is often rooted in fear.
“It’s OK not to agree!” she says. “Fear can shut us down and block access to adaptive processes, such as accessing compassion.”