“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.” ~ Thich Naht Hanh …
When we punish those who make us suffer, we do nothing to reduce the sum of suffering within our circle. Not only does the suffering of the person who hurt you remain… it has now also increased. Additionally, as their cup of suffering continues to overflow, you cannot help but soak up some of the suffering yourself. The only way to stop the suffering is to bring them healing by helping to empty their cup of suffering… and fill it with joy.
It can sometimes be quite difficult for us to show compassion and concern for those who are making us suffer. But as Thich points out, because of their suffering they need us in their lives more than ever. Perhaps it might help if we try to look beyond the suffering person that they are at this current moment in their life, and see the total sum of the person they are. They were once just a child just as you and I were, and there had to be thousands of emotions, feelings, and decisions that led them to where they are today. You see, we are the sum of all our experiences and choices, and more than likely we will never know all the difficulties and hardships others have faced in their lives that have led them up to this point. But I am confident that if we did, we would feel more compassion and empathy for them and their plight.
It becomes much easier for us to feel compassion for others if we keep in mind that they have faced difficulties and hardships in their life–perhaps a difficult family, or maybe they had bad role models to emulate, or maybe have been lost and alone for much of their life. And when we are able to find compassion, empathy, kindness, concern, forgiveness, humility, and patience with those who cause us suffering… we allow ourselves to be the band-aid for their souls, helping them to find healing, so that they might go on to heal others instead of causing them pain.
Look through the eyes of compassion at those who bring you suffering.
Questions to consider:
Why is it so easy to punish those who cause us pain and suffering? How often does punishment work?
Does punishing others generally solve all the issues or does it typically make matters worse?
Why is it so easy to judge others based on a few actions without considering anything about their history? What are some of the benefits of keeping in mind the fact that we do not necessarily know the entire history of others?
For further thought:
“Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” ~ Colossians 3:12