Compassion is the ability to feel sympathy for the suffering of others. The word itself comes from Latin and means ‘suffer together’. Compassion could be described as a distinct type of emotional state, but it shares similar features to other emotions such as love and sadness. Self-compassion is the ability to have sympathy for oneself. This can be incredibly important for those who are caught up in addiction because they often suffer from self-hatred.
Here are six reasons why compassion can strengthen your sobriety:
The act of feeling compassion can actually increase your own level of happiness. This is because caring for somebody else makes you less obsessed about your own problems, and it just feels good to do. Most people believe that being loved is what they need to be happy, but the reality is that it is loving other people that is more important – for example, if you are caught up in self-hatred, no amount of love from others can change how you feel. Compassion can also boost your self-esteem and just make life easier to manage.
One of the insights that you can develop by being more compassionate is that all people are in the same boat. This can mean that you do not feel so alone with your problems. Your ability to accept people for what they are also means that you do not have unrealistic expectations for yourself, making it easier for you to show yourself some sympathy when things start to get hard. Too many individuals respond to misfortune by ‘beating themselves up’, but compassion teaches you not do this.
One of the most remarkable aspects of compassion is how good it can be for your mental and physical health. The effectiveness of this emotion is that it triggers the release of ‘feel good’ hormones, as well as meaning that you are less likely to suffer from stress – it is now known that stress plays a significant role in many disease processes. Developing compassion is undeniably good for you and it may even mean you live for longer.
Individuals who have developed compassion are a joy to be around. The fact that they have time for others means that they easily form deep and meaningful friendships. Compassionate people have a special type of glow about them that makes them magnets to others.
If you are compassionate, it will make the life of those you care about easier. Not only will you be less likely to do things to hurt them, but you can also be there for them when things go wrong in their lives. It is easy to sense false pity, but genuine compassion can be a healing balm. Even if there is nothing you can do to directly help a person, the fact that you are able to listen compassionately makes a huge difference.
Developing compassion will improve your life in many different ways. It strengthens your sobriety, meaning you will feel more comfortable in your own skin. The fact that you now enjoy plenty of happiness and serenity in your life means there is no need to turn to alcohol or drugs. Your increased ability to deal with the challenges in life means there is no longer any need to run away.