While some people can be naturally compassionate, others may struggle to look outside themselves and consider other people’s feelings or see things from their perspective. When people have serious addictions, much of their life revolves around their own problems and it may be hard for them to be compassionate. When your own issues are so big and all-consuming it can be hard to feel sad for others and the misfortune that they might experience.
However, the ability to feel compassion is an important quality to have especially for someone going through the process of recovery from an addiction. Compassion can improve relationships and have many other benefits that help to strengthen people in their sobriety. Feelings of empathy and compassion can improve your life and actually reduce your own suffering in the long run.
The Benefits of Being Compassionate
The word compassion simply means being able to feel sorrow or deep sympathy for someone who is experiencing something negative. Compassion also means having a strong desire to alleviate someone else’s suffering. When people act out of compassion they are being of service to someone else and helping them in a selfless way.
Because addiction can lead people to be so self-obsessed, developing their sense of compassion is a way to combat the kind of thoughts and behavior that are inherently connected to substance abuse. Addiction can cause people to act in their own self-interest so that they are ignoring the needs of others in order to continue their destructive lifestyle.
Compassion not only can help people fight some of their addictive tendencies it can also improve their mental health and relationships. People who are more compassionate tend to have lower levels of stress, are more spiritual and get along better with others. When you feel compassion for people you are less likely to get into confrontations or have difficult interactions with those around you.
When a person in recovery starts to address some of the character flaws that may have been a part of their addiction they will use compassion as a way to get out of their selfish state of mind. Their ability to feel empathy can deepen their friendships and help make up for years of self-centered behavior that may have hurt others.
In recovery, an addict can start to be more open to other people’s thoughts and opinions when they become more compassionate. They will also become less defensive when they find out that someone thinks differently from them or has an alternate view. Addicts can also start to help other people in recovery through their feelings of compassion which is an essential part of building a sober lifestyle. Service to others is one of the key components of recovery and it is closely tied with empathy, compassion, and selflessness.
Actions to Increase Compassion
Everyone can develop compassion even after years of addiction and self-centered behavior. People in recovery can cultivate compassion by learning to really listen to others and focus in on what they are saying rather than being absorbed in their own beliefs, judgements or opinions.
Really listening and hearing someone else’s view without interpreting their words as a personal attack is an important skill that can make it much easier to get along with others. It can also be helpful to focus on the similarities that people have rather than their differences even if they may have an opposite opinion. Another important exercise is to try to engage in one compassionate action a day to see how much it will benefit your life. Eventually compassion can become second nature once you understand all the positive changes that it can create.