I never thought I’d become the “C” word…. compassionate 28



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I never thought I’d become the “C” word.


I cringe when I remember my teens. Not that they were too bad even though I was quite shy, but because I totally lacked tolerance for ideas other than my own. And those ideas were usually put into my head by my peer group. I had arguments with my father about unions, the Vietnam war and my brother tells me I also told him I was communist. I had fixed ideas that would not change and I would argue the point until I was blue in the face. The set ideas remained dominant in my head until I was into my 40s I think. Mind you they changed along the way. But I was never any good with empathy. In a personal crisis, if it didn’t affect me I kept out of it, and never volunteered sympathy.

The dictionary definition of ‘empathy’ is: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

People change slowly, so when I gained empathy I cannot say. However, I do remember a daughter being disgusted with a fellow worker who was found in a toilet shooting heroin. I found my daughter’s lack of compassion surprising as my initial thought was that it was sad for this person who had a drug addiction and would lose her job because of it.

So today I think I’ve become tolerant. I can usually see another person’s point of view. I can empathise with another person’s situation. I can look at the news about refugees and have sympathy for their plight. All of the hate directed by some I ignore as my thoughts are that we would be in a similar situation if we were born in their country. However, I do believe I have become more sceptical of the media as they do seem to stir up trouble, making those who have not yet acquired tolerance incapable of compassion toward our fellow man.

I’m now able to put myself in other people’s situations, which I consider mature. Some people are born compassionate, but I certainly wasn’t. It took years of growing up to get there.

So I ask Starts at 60 readers, what thought and behavioural changes have you noticed in yourself from when you were a teenager until now?

Jeanette Southam

  1. It is those two words ” compassion and empathy ” that seem to be lacking in our society today. From what I see it’s about if we can afford to show compassion and empathy and at what price will compassion and empathy mean to ME. What will I have to loose to show compassion and empathy . What will it cost ME. I’m reminded of the song of ” the sounds of silence ” written in the sixties but the words are more relevant today than ever. We are remaining silent worshiping neon gods ( that are the media the consumerism of today’s world. The ME comes first because I deserve). Our need for consumerism to control not just our lives but our thoughts. Yes remaining in silence of lacking in compassion and empathy enables one to remain within. The ME comes first syndrome because I deserve and others don’t. I worked hard I did it tough. So if I did others can just get off there lazy butts and do the same. Compassion and empathy are words that are to confronting you need to be able to see outside of the ME and have a bigger understanding of what is really hidden behind those flashing lights of consumerism materialism and the ME ME ME mentality.

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  2. I have always had compassion and sympathy for those genuinely in need of support. Yet I have always had intolerance for fools, bludgers and that which goes against the grain. My values have not changed and I still like to express an opinion knowing full well that it will upset some.

  3. Apparently I use to take sick animals and injured birds home when I was a kid,the last ten years have been spent careing for dogs,neighbours,stepbrother and now Mum and my son.I think the C word has always been there.Hopefully before I am dead it will be all about me.

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  4. I think I have always had compassion and empathy and that is why I became a teacher and especially a Learning Support Teacher. I am happy to say it has rubbed off on our children . If I ever felt sorry for myself I looked around and there was always someone worse off than me .

  5. Not everyone is born with empathy but I believe it can and should be taught from a very young age. Its called emotional intelligence. Many people just dont think, and when they are encouraged to its astounding the difference it can make.

  6. I have compassion and empathy for genuine people but not for liars. Hate that people see my compassion as a weakness. Maybe that why I like animals better than people.

  7. I have always had plenty of compassion, tolerance for me has come through life experience and maturity 🙂🌺

  8. Like you Christine Meehan,I think I might actually have been dished out a double dose of compassion at an early age and it’s not always an easy lot. It means having a huge heart in a little body,and trying to understand why the world around you doesn’t feel the same. It means being criticised and called a “bleeding heart”,it means also being able to discern,eventually,that being compassionate and reaching out may sometimes get you into a lot of trouble.But in spite of that ,still being able to keep your big heart open and full of love and understanding and compassion, for those in need.

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    • Yes Catharine I’ve been called that a few times, but we are what we are and we have to live with ourselves nobody else. Head up shoulders back walk tall, that’s what Mum said to me. We have similar souls and we may get hurt but it is what it is, don’t try to please everyone. ❤️

  9. I have always tried to be compassionate, my own life was not great and I know life can be tough but I am a person who acts on gut feelings, if I don’t feel good about a person they will struggle to get my compassion.

  10. Thanks Jeanette I enjoyed your post, I’ve always been connected to people’s feelings and been affected by emotions from an early age a had to teach myself to pull back. I’m better as I’ve aged and taught myself to be strong and less affected. But I am who I am and I like me.

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