Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have ~ Maragret Mead
Although there is a growing awareness in humanity today that freedom, compassion and power are inherent parts of our humaneness, many people still believe they are victims of their conditions: the external circumstances in which they live and the character they carry with them. They feel that those things have been imposed on them and that they cannot be changed – which justifies the selfishness, the competitiveness and the mercilessness of their own life.
Circumstances, cultural, social or familial conditioning, past experiences, habits and the programming of ‘education’ are obviously powerful forces that shape the way we see ourselves and, consequently, experience our life. Yet life is full of stories of individuals, known or unknown, who changed themselves and became the incognito heroes that make for real revolutions: the perpetrator of ordinary acts of kindness, generosity and peaceful resolution of conflict that take place in daily life between family members, work colleagues, neighbours or strangers.
Those individuals became proactive by realising that, through their own attitude and behaviour, they had contributed to the formation of their present circumstances. They transformed those attitudes and behaviours – and their circumstances changed.
I have heard of and witnessed in my life as a coach and facilitator hundreds of such inspiring stories of people who made authentic inner changes and, due to their own will or conscious opening of the heart, brought about remarkable transformations to their character. I am one of them.
We could argue of course that there were pre-existing tendencies of character or predispositions that allowed that miracle to happen. Sure. But we can also say it was a choice. Destiny or free will – the age-old riddle you solve when you stop thinking in terms of either/or and start looking at life as an interplay of complementarities: destiny and free will – before a choice there is a predisposition but before something becomes a predisposition, there is always a choice. Life runs in cycles.
Now, not all parts of our character can be changed. We touched on that already: there are different layers to our ‘self’. Some superficial and mechanical: the habits we sowed through repeated action, the reflexes we learnt, the assumptions of our culture, the beliefs and emotional experiences that got engraved in our memory.
Others, deeper, are truly intelligent, untouched by conditioning. They have not been ‘organised’ by any external agent. They are free from social or self-imposed constraints. They are unadulterated, original and tremendously alive. They belong to the realm of pure consciousness and form our real identity, our true intelligence, awareness, creativity, power and the innate compassion of our heart.
One question emerges here: we do see the contribution that intelligence, creativity and inner power can make to our life, but compassion … forgiveness …??? Aren’t those things mores like weak forces it would be morally desirable to apply but do not work in a world ruled by self-assertion, competitiveness and ruthlessness?
The answer is ‘no’.
Although, despite all the literature published on emotional intelligence, the energies of compassion, benevolence and love are still often overlooked. Yet, they are authentic and genuine skills for success – and the word ‘genuine’ is essential here: you can fake many things or learn skills to manipulate people but you cannot fake compassion or benevolence for very long. People have a heart and the heart ‘sees’.
The power of forgiveness, compassion, benevolence and love lies in at least three essential aspects:
- One: they free you from the discomfort of resentment, bitterness, self-inflicted emotional pain, victimism, anger, hatred, etc. You may have been hurt, cheated or betrayed but what is the point of punishing yourself by feeding negative feelings? It will not hurt or punish your aggressor but it will definitely make you feel miserable. Free yourself with forgiveness, compassion and benevolence.
- Two: they foster dynamic connections between things and people based on authenticity and trust;
- Three: they help us become aware of what lies beyond our own circle of interest and when this happens, a clearer understanding unfolds, unimagined solutions appear and great creative synergies are generated.
There are other ways of generating creative synergies but what is truly remarkable with those compassion produce is that they tend to integrate and benefit all. They do not generate losers and therefore produce none of the usual undesirable side effects of success – things like jealousy, rancour or the feeling of having been dispossessed or cheated in some way. They are win-win.