There is something somewhere in my thoughts after writing my last post (+CREATING A TIMELINE OF OUR EARLIEST LIFE – PUTTING ORDER/ORGANIZATION TO TRAUMA/CHAOS) that is connecting that topic to a consideration of the difference between ‘compassion’ and ‘pity’. It does not serve ours or anyone else’s desires toward healing to apply an ointment of ‘pity’. Compassion, on the other hand, I see as a most healing balm.
I can see how my inner sense of conflict and irritation at the word is connected to my preference for the word ‘compassion’ just by looking at this in relation to PITY:
This word has one single definition:
: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it
Compassion operates ONLY when it is actually built right into our body-brain. It is connected physiologically to our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and our vagus nerve system. Compassion is a physiological reaction that can perhaps be pantomimed or mimicked but is only genuine when it is directly connected to ‘correct’ wiring within our body-brain.
Trauma Altered Development that happens in infant-childhood earliest growth stages due to stress from trauma, maltreatment and abuse can prevent the wiring of compassion. This happened to my mother. Compassion, which by definition is genuine or it doesn’t exist at all, was missing within her.
Pity is what I call a ‘secondary’ reaction that is NOT based on or connected to physiology within our ANS or our vagus nerve system. It is nothing more than an intellectual construct that does not (in my opinion) help anyone or carry any power to help or to heal.
I mention this today because I suspect it can be very hard for those of us who survived terrible infant-childhoods to be able to FEEL in our BODY the difference between these two conditions. Compassion is a feeling body-based state. We can FEEL this one. Pity offers us nothing in the way of genuine feeling. It is a relative of the abuse we suffered and does nothing but auger (dig) us deeper into despair rather than lift us up into increasing joy and well-being.
Compassion is connected to ‘company’ and is meant to operate within us to help draw us to others of our social species.
Pity separates people from one another and does the opposite from what compassion is designed to do.
These patterns also exist within our self toward our self. Compassion draws us closer to our genuine self. Pity alienates us from our self.
Compassion offers us ways to reach out to our self and to others and helps us delineate (clarify) our true priorities. Pity puts up walls and barriers, keeps us from knowing the truth about reality and perpetuates (continues) our inner confusions. Compassion carries within it the light of attachment. Pity carries the darkness of being – and remaining – broken.
I believe we can know the difference between compassion and pity most simply by paying attention to where in our body we feel the feeling connected to each word. Compassion heals. Pity hurts. Compassion is connected to hope and trust. Pity is connected to fear, anger and shame.
While there is no shame to ‘thinking’ pity, I believe it is a waste of time to remain stuck within this intellectually-based condition. Finding the TRUE feelings that pity hides and helps us avoid takes us to the truth of our body, and in that process we are practicing compassion.