Laurie Felt on Compassion
when I was…
in the ninth grade, I was going through a really hard time at home.
I was also starting at a new school and only knew three people in the entire grade! The first few months were tough. But then, I met a girl named Caroline Somers. Caroline shined. She was admired by her classmates, her teachers — and of course, the boys! Caroline became a true friend and still is to this day
while things started to get easier at school…
at home — they got harder.
I couldn’t believe the magnitude of kindness and vulnerability she displayed towards me, especially considering we hadn’t been friends for that long. Looking back, I really needed that note, at that time, in my life. It helped me tremendously to know someone cared for me enough to make me feel supported and loved.
I tried so hard to hide this around my new friends, but the weight of what I was experiencing must have peeked through my oversized denim armour. One day when I came to school, I found a two-page, handwritten note in my locker. It was from Caroline. She shared how happy she was to have me as a friend and wrote about how special I was as a person. I was so taken aback reading her note.
The dictionary defines compassion as a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate it. Caroline’s compassion towards me this random day in high school was so beyond what I knew as kindness. It was compassion, in its truest form. Compassion doesn’t judge. Compassion doesn’t expect something in return. Compassion doesn’t give the runaround — it beelines to the heart.
I can still remember the way I felt reading that letter. Being on the receiving end of compassion has helped me understand its power and the importance of finding ways to display it throughout our lives to those we love, to completely strangers and even, to ourselves.
There’s a growing awareness with evidence backed by tons of research that shows self-compassion not only makes us feel good, but can actually make us stronger and more successful in our jobs and lives.
According to a recent New York Times article, “A lot of people think self-compassion is weak, but it’s just the opposite,” shared Dr. Neff, one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion. “When you’re in the trenches, do you want an enemy or an ally?”
Self-compassion encourages you to acknowledge your imperfections and accept that you are a work in progress. It also helps you notice and accept these things in others. So essentially, having more compassion for yourself can help you find more compassion and empathy for others.
Glamour in this day and age is not about being flawless. It’s about finding the strength to better yourself and uplift those around you through daily acts of compassion. It can come in the form of being easy on yourself when you’ve made a mistake or treating yourself to a new pair of denim for a night out with the girls. For others, it can be as simple as smiling at a stranger on the street (instead of looking at your phone!) or writing your friend a note when she just needs to feel a little love, like Caroline did for me.
We hope you’ll contribute to this important conversation and help us all discover ways to find a bit more compassion in our everyday.