So many of us live our lives in fear. And when we are afraid, anxious or worried, it is our habit to run in the opposite direction. We run away from the very thing that can help: compassion.
To find this path, we must begin with compassion for ourselves. This is almost always the hardest compassion to give. There is so much we reject in ourselves – things we would wish away or see as bad. And yet, if we befriend these shadows, giving them the same attention we give those parts of us that we see as good, we can awaken our hearts.
We must be compassionate with ourselves before we can be truly compassionate with anyone else. But once we begin to think in this way, we will realize that there are stores of kindness and joy within us beyond anything we thought possible.
The first step is to hold those ‘bad’ parts of yourself, to embrace them with the tenderness a mother gives her baby. Sit quietly with them. Know that you are not alone, that everyone has shadows. Cry if that is your honest response. Let the pain soften your heart. When you can do this – cradling your pain and fear and lack of pride with the compassion of a loving mother – you will find that your heart is transformed.