- I have been a teacher of fitness and health for thirty years. In 1989 I was certified for personal training with the National Acadamy of Sports Medicine. I had a gym in Santa Barbara for eight years. Co-owned and created a spinning bike company which manufactured bikes for five years. Also I have worked with nutrition companies for twenty years. Along with many wonderful non famous people I have trained many celebrities, and members of the Royal Family. My own athletic past consists of long distance running, long distance cycling, cross country skiing, down hill skiing, rollerblading, hiking, sand running, track work, and weight training. I have authored two fitness columns in local papers, and have been writing this blog since January 2010.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Exercising Your Compassion
Last week in my teen class one of my students began a conversation about the relationship between her and her father. It has never been a good relationship, no communication, no understanding, and not much affection between them.
What I pointed out during this discussion was that how ever her father had been treating her, had nothing to do with her, but all to do with him. Remember in our "Four Agreements" book by Don Miguel Luis, one of the four agreements is to never take anything personal, because it never is.
Now I have never met this man, but I can tell you by the things that she shared with us about him that he is not living the life he wants to. Got married young, had children to be responsible for, and is working a job that is not his passion. Remember that Joseph Campbell says, "Follow Your Bliss", and you will find true happiness.
Well I would bet all that I own that this father did not follow his bliss, and is now taking it out on his family. He is most likely living a life that he did not want. I would also bet that he has no idea that all of it was his choice, and knowing that fact would probably make him even more angry, because then he would have to be responsible for everything that has happened to him.
There are so many people who live lives like this. They make decisions when they are young and naive , not understanding the full consequence of their decisions. Falling in "love" at nineteen years old, and having several babies in a short period of time, then having to be responsible for them takes the fantasy of romance right down the drain!
If you take a look at most peoples childhood, you can usually see why they made the choices that they make. For instance, this man was ridiculed and beaten as a child and as a young man by his parents. Obviously it would be difficult to find your self worth in that situation. So he went out on his own and began a family before he dealt with any of his own dysfunctions.
All that can happen in those situations is a continuation of dysfunctional behavior on that persons part. If you have not dealt with your stuff, you will bring it with you into every relationship that you have. I would bet that this man feels a victim of his own life, and does not believe that he is responsible for any of it.
This is where we can exercise our compassion. Just like I did with my parents. They had little to no functional communication from their parents, so how could they parent well to their children. Unless you have a consciousness about it, you will just continue the cycle of how it was done to you.
I have compassion for my students father in the sense that he has no consciousness in how he is damaging his daughter the same way he was damaged. He does not realize that he has created his own existence, and it did not just randomly happen to him. He is like so many people, not being responsible for his own thoughts, choices, and actions. Just a victim of it all.
If he had been taught at a young age that his parents behavior was not about him, but their own stuff, he may have had a better chance at living a more functional life. If I had known at a young age the same thing, I might not have needed all the years of therapy that it took to make me realize that it had nothing to do with me personally.
I try and exercise my compassion every time I hear these stories of people abusing others because of their own stuff. I see them as lost and confused. They just don't understand that that abuse was not about them, yet that is how we always see it when we experience abuse.
So if you are dealing with a parent who is treating you badly, remember it is never about you. Try and exercise your compassion for what they have been through. Do not believe them when they ridicule or demean you. It is simply not true, not about you, and all about what they have gone through.
It does not make it right for them to do it, but it helps you to understand why they are doing it, and helps you to not take it on as your truth.
You are a special, wonderful, human being, that should be supported and loved by your parents, and if that is what you are experiencing, you are lucky. If it is not what you are experiencing, love yourself by being compassionate and understanding of where and why you are being treated in any other way. Abuse is only personal to the abuser, it is never the truth about you.