We can’t be compassionate if we are not generous, empathetic and self-aware. To understand another person’s pain, we need to be generous with our time dedicated to build empathy for the other one. We need to be willing to observe him in his daily routine. Who are the people he meets? What kind of relationships he has with others? What kind of tasks he does?
When the observation is done, we need to be able to understand and feel as the other person does.
Each day is an opportunity to gain a deeper level of compassion. How willing are we to create the mental space to do it?
Neuroscience helps us understand that when we are engaged in cognitive tasks, a circuitry on the lateral parts of the brain gets activated. At the same time, the brain networks that are in the middle areas and are related to self-awareness and empathy get deactivated. Therefore, we would need a strong determination to spend some time away from cognitive problem-solving and use that time instead on purposeful compassion practices. What might that motivation be?
But please let us not say, “I feel you”, unless we feel it to be true. If we say it because we want to save the appearance of an emotionally intelligent dialogue, we only make things worse. The other person will feel we’re not feeling him, become more distant and still be in pain.