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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Sympathetic Strategy

Have you ever been faced with the need to feel compassion for a person but find it hard to do so because the individual in question is difficult? You find suppressing your anger in that person's presence becomes a primary goal.  I would like to suggest a way for you to muster the compassion that you need to assuage your anger.

Shirzad Chamine in Positive Intelligence suggests a way to tap into empathy--and that is to visualize the child (p. 94).  He then suggest a way to help us tap into our deepest values by asking us to flash forward and ask "At the end of _____ [ultimately of life itself], looking back, how do I wish I had conducted myself regardless of outcome" (p. 180).  Together this suggests a general format to help us find compassion for difficult people.

To do this we are to visualize the difficult person when they were a lovable and winsome child. Then simultaneously we are to flash forward and compassionately appreciate that the person we are now so visualizing like us is mortal and that life is fleeting.  Our unitary, telescoped humanity can give our anger pause and arouse sympathy within our hearts and turn bitterness into compassion.  

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