How To Show Compassion

Fields of Compassion

Each topic I discuss in my blog relates to the topics as they appear in my book. The prose for this image talks about seeing a homeless man on the corner and not knowing how to show compassion for his plight without giving money. Instead, I wanted to simply acknowledge him and show compassion because he is a fellow human being who is struggling.

“All it would take is a look, a smile, to let this man know that I care about him, feel his plight, want to help. I can offer a fellow human being a smile, a hand, and fill a vacant field with compassion.”

Compassion, defined as sorrow for the sufferings of another accompanied with a desire to help, seems all too often  lacking sometimes in today’s society. We are moving so fast that in our dealings with others, we don’t take the time to pay attention to those around us. We are largely “self” driven, looking out for ourselves and not considering others.

What does it mean to have compassion and how do we develop it? For me, I was two years into my sobriety and doing a self-appraisal as part of the process of recovery. In looking at my behavior when I was drunk, I realized I used to scream at my mate the exact same derogatory words that my father had yelled at me, wounding my soul. I knew how I was feeling when I said those things, knew I didn’t really mean them, and I realized this could have been true for my father as well.

Suddenly, I felt compassion for him. I felt badly for him, suspecting he was not feeling good about himself and his life when he said those words. I could identify with his pain. This led me to forgiveness of a long-time hurt and resentment. In fact, I discovered that many of the resentments I held were against others who had done the very same things I did in the course of being a human being. My heart softened to these people with this discovery and I was able to feel compassion.

It is important to state that, while compassion for others is desirable, so is compassion toward ourselves. Don’t forget to show compassion to yourself. This leads to a forgiveness of self for all our actual and perceived wrongs that we commit as part of beiing human. It allows us to cut ourselves some slack. This is not said, however, to excuse our bad behavior and the need to fix it.

How does one show compassion? It can be as simple as offering a smile of understanding, wishing that homeless person a good day even if we cannot help with money. It occurs with the words, “How can I help?” It happens when we get out of ourselves and consider others and their plight. It is the show of sincere sympathy and understanding.

How do you show compassion in your life?



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  3. It’s spooky how cevler some ppl are. Thanks!

  4. Oh, Julia. Now THIS is a beautiful story of how compassion can lead to forgiveness. I am so touched. Thank you for sharing it. All too often, we forget to take into account what another is dealing with. Then there is the issue of just not being able to see it… or to look. I’m so glad your daughter is going to do MS research. That’s fantastic!


  5. Carolyn, that is a beautiful story of compassion for yourself which lead to forgiveness. I was immediately reminded of my husband and daughter. My husband has lived with MS all of my daughters life. She was always angry that he did not always come to all of her recitals, and games like all of the other dads. She felt like he was using the MS as an excuse. During her high school years they rarely said a kind word to each other. She volunteered at a MS event and heard stories from other people living with MS. She suddenly could show compassion and forgiveness for her father. He is her hero and she is going to do research in MS.


  1. […] ourselves with some tender and gentle thoughts. In my experience, when I do this, it leads me to compassion because I recognize my humanness. When we see with compassion, we can smile and soothe ourselves. […]

  2. […] gives them a sense of relief; the need to be right disappears, the poor behavior can be viewed with compassion. When we identify poor behavior and see it with compassion, we see a wounded person… […]

  3. […] For me, it also includes committing to a journey of sobriety, of living life according to principles of living without drinking, living a better life in my head, being a better person in the world. It involves adopting ways of treating myself and others, such as with tolerance, respect, and love. It embraces a life filled with behaviors such as forgiveness and compassion. […]

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