Could there possibly be such a thing as unwise compassion? I certainly didn’t think so, at least not in such succinct terms, until early this morning when I found myself re-reading passages of a Jack Kornfield book entitled “A Path With Heart.” I have read this text years before and have the neon yellow highlighter marks to prove it but apparently I needed a reminder today.
On page 218, Kornfield states: “In many relationships our fears and dependence may leave us afraid to tell the truth. We may be unable to set limits, afraid to say no. (People) who have trouble saying no, no matter what is asked of them…after many years find themselves filled to the brim with resentment without understanding how they got that way.”
He continues on page 219:”Codependence and unhealthy compassion arise when we have forgotten our own role in the balancing act of human relationships or when we disregard the true consequences of the actions of others around us. Codependence also arises when we discount our own intuitions and emotions out of the fear of disapproval of others…Losing touch with ourselves and lack of self-respect are also the source of addictive dependencies in practice.”
Page 220 states: “All unhealthy or overly idealistic generosity arises from this error, when a deep respect for ourselves is left out of the equation. When our sense of self-worth is low, we cannot set limits, make boundaries or respect our own needs.”
On page 221 he speaks of Buddha’s instructions on mindfulness: “It is too idealistic to expect that we will always just want to do good, we must listen to know when the heart is attached, to know when the heart is afraid, to know when the heart is dependent. By listening deeply, we can begin to sort out dependence from love.” Then continues: “Learning to distinguish wisdom from dependence can be aided by understanding our own early history. We can reflect on how needs were met…how limits were set, how insecurity was treated. Until we become aware of them, we will repeat these family patterns in our spiritual life. This honest telling of our family story can be a powerful process in our sorting our health from dependence, respect from fear, and finding a wise and true compassion.”
This morning I find myself feeling content with something I did last night when told by a trusted male friend on the dating sites to “get over it” in reference to my disgust with the behaviours and communications of some men who are, if their own rude communications and behaviours factor in at all, clearly oblivious to the fact that we women are far more than sperm depositories.
It’s in the DNA, my friend said. DNA is a good excuse I said but there’s also this thing called choice. I have physical longings, too. However, should I indulge them at every turn, what man would respect that? None that I have met so far in my life would value such behaviour in a woman. My friend agreed on that point. So let’s go back to mindfulness and choice because, as I said to him, DNA, genetic programming and all of that excuse babble is starting to sound like “victim think” to me.
Why should I get over something that shouldn’t be happening in the first place? If men want to behave in socially disgusting ways, that’s their choice. But leave regular dating sites alone and find those places where that behaviour is welcome because there is no shortage of them online or anywhere else in the world. We don’t need any triflers wasting our precious time just to satisfy their own egos or personal agendas. On dating sites or anywhere else, for that matter.
While I am not a radical feminist, I am wholly for fairness. A cherished friend of mine used to say of men “You’ve had your 2,000 years, it’s our turn.” Or where men felt unfairly treated due to women entering their field of work, “It’s a plot.” We used to laugh about this but last night when I wrote the reply to my male friend, some of my first words were: “WHY CAN’T MEN GET OVER IT?” It strikes me as the old double standard in motion again, boys having their cake and getting away with it too, in simplistic terms.
No. I am not “getting over it.”
That, according to Kornfield’s work which confirmed my own intact sense of judgment this morning, would be unwise compassion. Self inclusion in the extension of compassion as I understand it is, in its most basest form: “respect.” Imagine if people everywhere understood that the outcome of allowing ourselves to be treated in ways that are disrespectful meant filling ourselves to the brim with resentments. No thanks. I opt for mutual respect.
Over the years I’ve heard some idiotic phrases from “look at her, wearing that bikini, she’s just asking for it” to “why do those women stay in abusive relationships?” As I wrote in a 5,000 word article in 1995, “why don’t men just stop it?” (Please understand I am not referring to ALL men, only those who support this type of thinking or justification for primitive attitudes and behaviours toward women.) Respect works a lot better for me from family relationships to work cohorts, in friendships and in romance.
And that is all it really amounts to for me in the realm of online dating if you can call it that. I don’t call anything online “dating” but merely an introduction. Hence, I have not truly “met” many men because the online scene, for me, is not considered dating or meeting. Only when it moves to the real world does it begin to really count for me and it seldom gets that far. Still, whether in the real world or virtual world, however you introduce yourself, if you simply show respect, you will receive it. Show disrespect in any form and you will be blocked/deleted from my life. With great pleasure, I must add. Because for every disrespectful word uttered by an excuse making person who considers themselves an adult while making juvenile, self-indulgent choices touting DNA or any other “victim mentality” excuses as their grounds, I am one closer to meeting a decent, mature man who respects me. Just as my friend did from the beginning to the end of our exchange last night.
Unwise compassion. Yes, to answer my opening question this morning, it does, indeed, exist. Choosing to practice it is entirely up to us. I’m aiming for wise compassion… wish me luck… I’m sure I’ll need it…<smiles>
Happy weekend reading!
(c) May 27 2011
Note: I first published this in May 2011 but in re-reading felt it worthy of posting again. Not much has changed and neither have my feelings on making behaviour choices with respect shown toward all involved. Anything less is… well, a lot less, unfair and just downright rude in my world.