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Practicing Compassion

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Like most people here, I receive various emails from SparkPeople with articles and blogs they feel might be especially useful or helpful to a wider audience. While they are often all great, one I read yesterday really struck a chord with me (STEPH-KNEE's "They Finally Stopped Snickering (Or Did They?)" www.sparkpeople.com/mypa

Since reading it, I've been thinking a lot about the subject of compassion. I think that most of us here, whether we're at the beginning of our journeys or have been working towards our goals for a while, have experienced the kind of so-called "fat shaming" that STEPH-KNEE described in her blog. It's bad enough to feel down on yourself when you're disappointed about your weight, but to actually have someone else take the time to give you an extra-special dose of cruelty, is doubly hurtful and just makes you want to withdraw even more. Even though I might look "normal" and healthy on the outside now, the fact is that I've still spent a far greater portion of my life as an overweight or obese person than I have as a person at a healthy weight and I still carry some of the pain from the treatment I received in the past--the snickers, the snide remarks or simply being ignored or treated like someone who doesn't matter simply because of my weight. And I still find it strange sometimes, and even oddly suspicious, when people treat me nicely--why didn't I always receive that nice treatment when I weighed 260 pounds? Wasn't I deserving of common courtesy and a smile then too?

But in a strange (or perhaps not so strange) way, I think those experiences have actually made me a better person. Had I spent my whole life at a healthy weight, I might not have developed the compassion (I think) I have for other people, especially those who are suffering in one way or another--whether it's because of their weight, home lives, work situations or other personal issues. I know how it feels to be down and feeling low, whether it's been a situation of my own doing or the result of someone else's cruelty. I don't wish those feelings on anyone and have a hard time understanding how some people can be so cruel to the weakest and most fragile among us at times. I'm only human and I know that I've hurt people before, perhaps even out of a lack of compassion or understanding, but I really do feel for people who are hurting, particularly those who feel hopeless and alone.

Fortunately, this is a place where we can practice compassion every day in a pretty safe environment. We can encourage each other, learn from each other and motivate each other without fear of judgment or snide remarks. And, hopefully, we can also learn to turn that sense of compassion towards ourselves, because so often, we're often our own worst and harshest critics. And isn't that what compassion is really about? Treating others the way we want to be treated ourselves--and I think that includes by ourselves as well.

So, be kind to someone today--anyone. You never know who's smiling on the outside and suffering in silence on the inside. And maybe make an extra effort to be kind to someone who you know to be having a really hard time. And then be kind to yourself, so you can arm yourself with the confidence and motivation to make the best possible choices you can today.
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