THE POWER OF COMPASSION

“Go to war with your body, and you will lose every time.”
—SueAnn McKean

When you suffer from a chronic physical problem, it’s easy and natural to blame and hate your symptoms, your illness, and your body for wreaking havoc on your life. However, this is not helpful. In fact, it’s harmful. This kind of thought process and attitude, whether you realize it or not, makes an enemy of your body.

War Generates Suffering

A wise teacher once told me, “Go to war with your body, and you will lose every time.” Your body is taxed enough by having to live with painful, debilitating symptoms and everything else involved in having to function with a chronic illness. The last thing your body needs is to be on the other end of your negativity. What it needs most is your tenderness and compassion, the same tenderness and compassion you would offer a loved one suffering from a chronic illness.

Self-Compassion Heals

Healing is not as focused on the end-goal of becoming asymptomatic it is about the process of learning how to attend to yourself, to your body, and especially to your nervous system the way we all truly need to be attended to: With presence, attentiveness, warmth, kindness, compassion, attunement, touch, gentleness, patience, and centeredness—all of the qualities we associate with the quintessential good mother.

When we can listen to our whole bodies and hear what our sensations or symptoms are communicating to us as the good mother attends to her baby, we are deeply present with and connected to ourselves. Then, with greater awareness and less reactivity, we can appropriately respond to our needs, urges, wants, impulses, and wishes like the good mother responds to her crying baby. When you can embody the qualities of the good mother at times when the parts of your body that cause you suffering are generating symptoms, you allow your nervous system the ability to undo the automatic, habitual patterns that generate unnecessary suffering. As we do this, we become more resilient and better equipped to deal with life’s many stressors. More importantly, we make space for the necessary suffering we must face in order to heal and recover.

Choose Compassion over Unnecessary Suffering

Though sometimes circumstances make it difficult, we always have the ability cultivate or turn towards compassion, inner peace, and ease.

Ever heard someone explain that they had to forgive someone who had done something truly horrible because they no longer wanted to live with the negativity their hatred and anger was generating? Though sometimes circumstances make it difficult, we always have the ability cultivate or turn towards compassion, inner peace, and ease.

Even when we lack the power to stop our physical symptoms, we are capable of learning new skills and strategies to work with and heal from pain, stress, and trauma. We are capable of changing our relationship to our symptoms so that instead of battling our symptoms and perpetuating an acrimonious relationship to our bodies, we develop a loving, harmonious relationship to our symptoms and our bodies.