Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Reasons for practising compassion

In a society where blame culture is rife, it can be difficult at times to empathise with others, particularly if we don’t want to be in the firing line. But in many cases, showing compassion to others not only breaks down blame culture, but it also frees us from negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and animosity.

People can be very quick to judge another person’s actions or intentions without giving any consideration to why they acted in a such a way. Not only can this create negative thoughts in our own minds, but our reactions can also be damaging to the other person. 

To develop relationships with people, whether at work or in our personal lives, we need to form a connection based on trust and respect. By showing empathy and compassion, we also begin to care for others, and this can have a huge effect on our own actions and thoughts. 

Feelings of resentment and anger can have serious effects on our health and can create negative self-talk, insecurity, and a lack of self-confidence. These kinds of behaviours can ultimately lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Without compassion, our thoughts might be imagined, misunderstood, and totally unnecessary. When we choose to only view the world through our own beliefs and prejudge before we have any facts, this can lead to prejudice and stereotyping.  

Researchers in positive psychology, Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, believe that showing compassion and connecting with others in a positive way can improve our mental and physical wellbeing. Compassion doesn’t only help those needing care, it makes us healthier and happier too!

What is compassion?

Compassion is the ability to understand and show empathy for another person’s feelings and experiences and wanting to demonstrate that you care. This care should be given selflessly. 

How to be compassionate

Being compassionate not only helps us to connect with people but it also helps us to live in harmony, meaning we are less likely to become stressed or agitated. And it’s this that allows us to face difficult situations with a more positive outlook, and get things done in the most amicable way.

  1. Before you react to a person’s words or actions, ask yourself if you could have the wrong end of the stick. Sometimes we can misinterpret things depending on our mood, and any form of written communication such as emails or text messages, can very easily be misconstrued.  
  2. Question the other person’s current situation or past experiences. Perhaps they are going through something traumatic in their lives, and although their words may seem abrasive, they might be feeling stressed and don’t intend to offend anyone. Similarly, if you haven’t heard from a close friend or family member for a while, you shouldn’t automatically assume it’s because they are ignoring you, rather, they may be busy with work, or are struggling with a personal problem. 
  3. Before you prejudge someone, give them the benefit of the doubt. 
  4. Also remember self-compassion and don’t beat yourself up over making a mistake or feeling as though you’re not good enough.
  5. Practise acts of kindness that show people you care.
  6. Ask people how they are feeling and take the time to listen to them.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Embracing the midlife crisis

When realisation sets in that we have limited time left on earth, what we once took for granted we suddenly want to grasp with both hands. Some people might want the fast car, the big house and fancy holidays perhaps to demonstrate their life's material successes, while for others it's their experiences, physical wellbeing and state of mind that really matter.

This sudden awareness that time is passing by can start to stir negative emotions and thoughts of worry and fear as you begin to questions your current situation and your achievements in life. You might find yourself asking:

  • "Am I where I want to be in my career?"
  • "Will I ever travel to my dream destinations?"
  • "Have I made a positive impact on the world?"
  • "Will I finish my book that I started writing?"

Questions such as these might trigger the sudden urge to make a wish list of everything you want to achieve by the time you've reached a certain age. All the things you've thought about doing but never got round to, could start to occupy your mind more often. It's this sense of urgency to get things done that is often recognised as a midlife crisis. Also, as the physical signs of ageing start to show, it can be quite a traumatic time for some people who are afraid of their health deteriorating or losing their looks.

With all these worries suddenly being at the forefront of the mind, it's not a surprise that getting older can have an impact on both physical and mental health, so it's essential to put things into place that will ease the anxiety and stress.

How to embrace your midlife crisis

It's important to recognise the difference between the things we can and can't change and to make sure that we let go of any unnecessary worry for the latter. Write down everything that is a concern to you then decide whether you can do anything about them. If not, then try to let go of any negative feelings and only focus on what you can change. As you focus on what you do want to achieve, you'll start to worry less. 

  • By practising gratitude, you'll focus less on the negatives
  • Taking up a new hobby can introduce you to like-minded people of a similar age.
  • Mindful meditation is a great way to reduce symptoms of stress and depression and increase concentration. Harvard Health published an article which stated that: "depression continues to be a major health issue for older adults. It affects about 20% of adults ages 65 and older, and regular depression can lead to higher risks for heart disease and death from illnesses. It also affects people's daily lives by making them more socially isolated and affecting cognitive function, especially memory. "
  • Enjoying some form of regular exercise, such as walking, swimming or aerobics is a great boost for both mental and physical health and can slow down the affects of aging.