It's Right For Us!

We need others

Last week I looked at compassion (the desire to reduce suffering) and kindness (the desire to increase wellbeing) which are important when our focus is on the wellbeing of another.

In addition to this dimension of interaction there is another that is also important.

A desire to build courage is one side of this second dimension. Courage in this context is the ability to move forward despite setbacks or other impediments. We create courage in another by accepting (which implies believing in) the other. We cannot will courage into existence nor rationalise away our anxieties, courage comes from being accepted by another, who could judge us but does not.

This reflects the Christian belief that courage is a gift of grace, it comes from outside of us.

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The other side of this dimension is the reduction of helplessness and helplessness is sometimes expressed as feeling like a victim – things are done to us, we have no agency - or of being overwhelmed by events.

We can reduce helplessness by helping the other person to think more clearly about their desired future state and what steps to take to get there.

You may recognise that this dimension explicitly underpins cognitive coaching: listening empathically and using powerful questioning to build clarity and energy to take action.

In these two dimensions we also participate (or why would we do it?).

To grow our courage, we need people to believe in us and accept us as we are. If we feel helpless we also need someone to help us think better about a desired future and how to get there.

A question remains for me. Can we be self-compassionate by ourselves or is our capacity to do this linked to our connection with others? I am beginning to think that self-compassion and kindness to ourselves is driven by self-acceptance, which is only possible when we are accepted by another.

Accepting another unconditionally is a way to stimulate another to unconditionally accept us. That is a blue zone culture.

John Corrigan