The Compassion Equation: Moving From Reaction to Response

The Compassion Equation: Moving From Reaction to Response


Check out Author, Vanessa Hurst’s New Online Course:  Intent & Action: How to Create the Daring Paradigm of Compassion


“There will always be haters.”

“I cannot imagine the suffering that person [the hater] must be going through.”

Do you have someone who continually does hurtful things to you? You might have no idea what triggered the dislike. Or, you know exactly what created the wounds that have become their identify. It is safe to say that each of us has at least one person who does not like us. And, we have no clue how to heal that hurt. If we are honest, we may find our self acknowledging that we are in the same place — being unable to let go of a perceived transgression of another.

What do we do when we find our self on either side of this equation? We can rest in our impotence and frustration or we can dive deeply into the well of our compassion. Within these refreshing waters, we recognize the power of compassion to release suffering and heal old wounds. First, we attend to our wounds. We soothe our own suffering while fully recognizing that we may never change the behavior or attitude of the other.

Whenever I am blindsided by the active dislike of another, I become quiet and enter my silence. There I reflect upon the relationship and the roots of joint suffering. Within the embrace of self compassion, I own my humanness and flaws as I acknowledge the other’s suffering. I identify my woundedness and intend that compassion heals those sore spots.

I ask myself if there is something tangible or intangible that I can do to reconcile the relationship. Connecting with compassion at the source, I listen to what I need to do. Then I act in whatever way is most compassionate. Often it is an energetic intent that the connection between us be healed. Sometimes it is tangibly reaching out to another.

No matter how I choose to share compassion, I realize that within each of these hurts lay opportunity. Each time someone expresses passive or active animosity to me is a catalyst for looking at my role in triggering that person’s woundedness. (While I am not responsible for their ongoing behavior, my actions may have uncovered a deep wound.) I also ask if this person’s behavior is a mirror of my own. If so, I question how I can be compassion’s presence. To learn from the experience, I name the hurt that I cannot release. And, I trust that this identification is the beginning of releasing my suffering.  This process is not easy; it takes courageous mindfulness.

Compassionate resolution requires courage and daring. While I cannot shift another’s animosity toward me or heal the real or perceived hurt of another, I can change my behavior toward those who dislike me and those to whom I feel animosity. With compassion, I heal my personal wounds, and it become easier to no longer take the reactions of others personally.

The power of compassion directed internally and externally paves the path of transformation. Internally, I identify the roots of my suffering. These roots usually are growing in the fertile soil of my fears. Self compassion addresses and heals the woundedness resulting from these fears. In this healing, I change the way that I see myself; the transformation of my reflection into the world occurs.

External compassion is more difficult in these circumstances. I have yet to find someone who is not feeling some level of disturbance when someone reacts negatively to them. The key is to not take their animosity personally. I remind myself that haters are going to hate not because they are wired to hate but because they are suffering; I unconsciously tore the scab from that wound. I can choose to react to their angst or I can practice loving kindness.

This is the difficult work of compassion. It is the compassion of not two, not one. We are asked to simultaneously direct compassion to our self while being compassion to the other. Total awareness in the moment is required so that we do not get hooked by the suffering of another. We must be healed as individuals so that the relationship is healed. As we strive to not be hooked by the behavior of another, we choose to not take their anger personally while acknowledging that their behavior does, in fact, hurt us. Not two, not one.

I believe that haters are only haters until we can raise the level of consciousness of our self, others, and community to one of compassionate presence. Animosity slips away only when the hater and the hatee recognize the suffering is mutual and take strides to alleviate their personal internal suffering and the external suffering of the other.

Discover the roots of your reactions. Rescript your reactions to compassionate response. Join us for Intent & Action: How to Create the Daring Paradigm of Compassion, an online class offered by The Charter for Compassion Institute.


vanessahurstVanessa F. Hurst, ms,  is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Contact Vanessa @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action.

1234Website / LinkedIn Profile / Facebook / Twitter: @fyrserpent


502.599.7222  § § This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



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