How About a Little Compassion This Thanksgiving?

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuriesWithout them, humanity cannot survive. — Dalai Lama

I’ve been turning this quote over in my head the past few weeks, but it didn’t really hit home until Nico and I got into a super yucky argument last night.

My 5-year-old is one of those sweet, kindhearted kids who somehow bypassed the terrible twos (unlike his younger brother, Gabriel, who’s given new meaning to the word “defiant” these past few months).  But guess what happens when your kid skips the whole terrible-two-boundary-testing thingy when they’re younger? That’s right! You just go through it when they’re older!

Oh, lucky, lucky me.  Two kids testing and testing and testing at the exact same time.  It’s enough to make me crazy–oh, wait, I mean, it already has!  I’ve been snipping and sniping like a madwoman around here, and while I would like to say that I was able to put a lid on my behavior after just a day or two, the truth is that it took my kid getting super-ticked at me to make me see the light.

Sometimes, I wonder what life would be like if I could just learn these lessons a little more easily.

As you might imagine, I was feeling pretty yucky about myself after our argument–you know, that wonderful feeling that I’d suddenly become the scum of the earth.  Or that maybe I wasn’t even worthy of being the scum of the earth.

Hmm.  Never been there, huh?

And then I happened upon the Dalai Lama‘s words again: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.”

I’d spent the last few weeks thinking that I needed to be more compassionate to others, but at that moment, I realized that I also needed to be more compassionate to myself.  That instead of spending the next couple of days torturing myself over my shitty parenting, I could give myself a break and treat myself with a little, um, kindness.

A or B?  Self-hatred or compassion?  Which one was it gonna be?

Now, I come from a long line of critical peeps. And here’s what you might not realize about us critical-kind-of-folks: if we’re being hard on someone else, chances are that we’re being a hell of a lot harder on ourselves.

Thankfully, I’ve been working on this one for a while.  So, instead of torturing myself for days on end, I was able to put the kabash on the self-torture after a few hours.  Talk about progress, people! 

When I decided to give myself the gift of compassion and was able to step back and look at the bigger picture, I realized that my health stuff (which had been flaring up again) had been making me grumpier than usual.  Which meant I was being a Super Grump with everyone around me.  Note to self: good luck being an old person, kiddo. You’re going to be a pain in the ass.

But!  Treating myself with that extra shot of compassion gave me a second, unexpected gift: the ability to see my argument with Nico as an opportunity.  An opportunity for me to strengthen my parenting skills, sure, but also an opportunity for me to create a stronger and healthier bond with my son.

After all, isn’t that the point of parenting?

Isn’t that the point of love?

I share this painfully-learned lesson with you right before the holidays because I know a lot of us are going to be entering this week with too much on our plate and too little time and reserves to do it all.  We’re going to be stressed and exhausted, and then we’re going to add a little travel or maybe some extended family into the mix and see how long it takes for us to blow.

Hmm.  No wonder the holidays are so…relaxing.

So I’d like to offer you a little compassion as you’re navigating that killer airport line, arguing with your mother or silently getting ticked at your spouse when s/he does that little thing that always, always drives you insane.

And maybe–just maybe–if you can give yourself a bit of compassion this holiday, you might even be able to share a little of that compassion with someone else.  Someone who’s not as fortunate as you.

Remember, we’re all human, and we all make mistakes.  And hell, aren’t we all a little wacko this time of year?

Happy Thanksgiving and happy, compassionate, loving good luck!



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3 Responses to How About a Little Compassion This Thanksgiving?

  1. Tiffany Voeller November 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks Tanja – I needed that reminder!

  2. Monica Breed November 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes! Life feels like a constant tuning in and listening, and then moving. I am coming to understand it is not a matter of being compassionate every moment of every day but continuing to re-discover it within ourselves over and over… a lot of work but perhaps the Dalai Lama would say it is a ‘necessity’ for a full life.

    • tpajevic November 28, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      I think you’re right on that one, and that we need to keep being open to forgiving ourselves as well. I keep thinking that if I can just learn something, it will be over and done with, but the truth of it is a little more complicated than that. And yet, it’s such a gift to be able to keep reconnecting and rediscovering all this good stuff!

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