Learning Compassion


Agree with me or not, your attention is the only attention you really value and need. We think what we want is “out there”, from someone else (some unattainable love from someone who is seeking it from others too) — but we are the only ones we want. We have for so long been abandoned in the process of socialization to seek the attention of others. When in reality, it’s our own attention that matters.  ~ an artist/coach

Reading this statement spoke to my core and begged the question: “What is the purpose of friendship and close relationship?”

I meditated on this question for nearly four hours before it hit me.

Every friendship and intimate relationship in my life did not last because I had no bedrock foundation of daily self love.  I allowed myself to become subsumed by the other person’s life direction, neglected my own self-attention, felt swallowed by the other’s emotions, and began to only be able to see through that person’s lens, losing my own binoculars to see the distance.  How do I want to be was not even a question that entered my mind.  Until now.

I am now choosing my own daily ways of being, and these are my non-negotiables.  Things I will not give up even if and especially if I am involved with anyone on a daily basis.

We have far more power than we recognize to heal our own wounds.  We each can choose to heal any past point in time we felt not heard, not acknowledged, neglected, or misunderstood by another person in our lives simply by giving ourselves the attention we wanted in those moments!  Revelation!



In meditation, all the evidence in my life for the truth in the quote above floated to my awareness.

A mandatory statewide parenting seminar for divorced people where I learned that 75% of all divorcees become involved in either relationships or marriages within two years of a divorce, and 90% of those subsequent marriages end in divorce.

A “Science of Love” interview project with random single people on the street (44% of American adults are single), surprised to find out of dozens ALL the singles questioned said they would prefer to be in a relationship than single.  Really?  “They didn’t ask me,” I thought.  Turns out the caveat of the interview question has everything to do with the response they got:  “Would you rather be single or in a relationship. . . assuming the relationship is emotionally healthy and mutually beneficial?” 

Another intuitive flash:  How can we possibly expect almost half of the American population to be capable of emotionally healthy and mutually beneficial relationships if they have NOT learned ways to unconditionally love themselves and make their own emotional health and stability non-negotiable?



If we agree the primary attention and embrace we want is our own unconditional love (including of frustrations and bumps along the way), then I understand the purpose of friendships to be important means to greater self-awareness.  People enter our lives with lessons we may never fully grasp.  But they do cross our life path time and time again.

We get to listen.  We get to practice giving the love and attention we know we want to experience to the mystery outside ourselves.  We get to view others with the same compassionate lens we would like to view ourselves and lend a hand as we are able to lift someone else up.

So even as it is essential for us to listen to our hearts far more than we are encouraged to do in our society, it is also true that listening to others by simply holding them with our presence gives us something important in return, whether or not we “fix a problem” or “take action.”

In addition, we all are vulnerable beings a single crisis away from being unable to attend to ourselves fully.  For this reason, we need support of friendships in times we are unable to see the forest for the trees.





If you want to experience peace, you must find peace in yourself.

If you want to feel loved, you must love yourself.

If you want to be happy, you must work to create your own happiness.




I am committed to daily actions I can take to access the above truths.  Here is my list of non-negotiable daily acts in case it helps anyone develop their list:

~ Meditate a minimum of 15 minutes a day to experience awareness and allow solutions to “arise.”

~ Tell myself “You are doing the best you can do in this moment” at least once each day.

~ Walk 30 minutes a day.

~ Consciously connect to the natural world since that is where I personally experience all things people speak of wanting in healthy human relationships:  I feel unconditionally loved, accepted, enthralled by beauty, connected to source, and listened to.  I understand myself to be wired to experience greater love in this form rather than via another human being, and I work to accept that about myself.

~ Write something, a piece of a poem, a sentence, a journal about an intuitive flash, a book to publish with potential to bring my life’s purpose to greater light.

~ Eat only nutrients that encourage my health and practice joy preparing them.

~ Support growth of something, a seedling, a plant, a thought, a friend, my child.

~ Work to change patterns of thought and action I want to change as soon as I become aware of them.  Example:  I became aware I react to encouragement by interpreting it as pressure. This means I tend to reject encouragement from others and myself.  Yet, I routinely and happily encourage others!  When I consider how much encouragement I have rejected over a lifetime, I understand this as a pattern I would like to change to be replaced by gratitude.

~ Make note of 3 gratitudes daily.

~ Set a timer to breathe deeply every 10 minutes while at the computer screen.



About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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