Finding Yourself, Compassion and Universal Freedom
Welcome to “Healing From Within.” I am your host Sheryl Glick, author of the newest book in a trilogy A New Life Awaits Spirit Guided Insights to Global Awakening which shares the notion that our challenges personally nationally and worldwide are not economic, political or societal but a disconnect from our true being or soul wisdom. I am delighted to welcome Thad Cummings, author of Radical Compassion which shares Thad desire to serve the greatest good and visits third world nations where he learns about poverty empathy and the joys of living with love and purpose ending his thoughts that poverty has little to do with the materialist world.
As listeners of Healing From Within well know, Sheryl and her insightful guests share intimate views into the metaphysical world of energy and science, as they share the truth of Who we are? and why we are experiencing a duality of life as both physical and spiritual beings learning to merge both aspects of our totality in order to live our best lives and reach our true potential as we find life is a balance between the mysteries of an ever evolving Universe.
In today’s episode of Healing From Within Thad Cummings will share thoughts on “Can compassion change the world? And if so, why hasn’t it happened already?”
When Thad is asked to think back and remember a person place or event that may have shown them the lifestyle work and interests they might pursue and value he tells of the return of his friend Chris from a mission to help others in third world countries and what seems to have been an inspiration for you to write Radical Compassion.
Thad tells us Chris’s story and writes, “It wasn’t what I expected.” There was a tension in his voice, an unexpected fusion of pain and remorse as his eyes returned to the rocky path ahead of us. He went on to explain that this was a mission trip to serve the “poor,” to try and help in one of the most impoverished areas in the world. After speaking for several minutes, Chris lifted his gaze again, but this time, with a hint of shame in his eyes. “I went there to have empathy for the poor, but the poor had empathy for me, for my lack of joy amongst all my riches. I thought I was going there to help save them, but they were the ones saving me…” The crisp, spring morning suddenly felt heavy.The crisp, spring morning suddenly felt heavy and the chorus of singing birds faded from my ears. How is it that humans in one of the world’s poorest villages, ravaged with famine, crime, drugs, no access to clean water or medical supplies, filled with diseases and infections, without electricity and hardly any shelter, were the ones having empathy for my friend? My friend, who lives in luxury with all modern conveniences never worrying where the next meal will come from. “The sense of community they had, the joy they shared with me, they had hardly any food but tried to feed me before themselves; the gratitude was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed,” “They were the ones taking care of me, not the other way around.” One question was left suspended in the air between us – “What if it is me who is actually poor?”
Poor (adjective): lacking material possess; small in worth. – Merriam Webster Dictionary
What does it mean to be poor?
What does it really mean to be “poor”? Is it just a matter of material possessions? Throughout this book, Chris would like to expand the definition of “poor” from a statement about economics and wealth and evolve it into many aspects of life. To begin with, he would split the definition into four main categories: financially poor, poor in health, poor in education and resources, and poor in life and spirituality. These categories can then be further broken down. For example, those who are poor in life or spirit may feel: relationally poor, poor of passion, poor of love, poor in purpose, poor in faith, etc. Now Chris is not going to treat this like a textbook to cover each of the four categories with definitive examples in a succinct pattern; life does not work in neat categories. Instead, this conversation unfolds through a series of stories that engage and overlap each category.
Before we begin, let’s set the stage by redefining “poor” in a new light to open the conversation and challenge our own stories (no offense to Merriam-Webster).
Poor (adjective): lacking an element for wholeness in joy
Thad writes, “Bluntly speaking, I think every person is poor in some regard and we have to look beyond the obvious physical signs to see it. Many of our lives are riddled with bouts of fear, anger, bitterness, jealousy, judgment, or resentment. While I believe these sources of pain and despair may be rooted in a place of fear, I think they also point to a large inadequacy in our lives – a shortage of joy. When life seems to be overflowing with joy and compassion, there is often little room to harbor any of this pain and despair. Yet most of us are consumed with the pain and despair to some degree. Why else would topics like greed and envy be so commonplace in society? We all have needs & we all have something to offer Take the example of my friend visiting Haiti who went with physical resources such as medicine, food and building supplies to a village that desperately needed them. Absolutely wonderful. But in return, the village shared with him a compassion of grace, love and community that he was desperately searching for, and didn’t even realize how much he yearned for it until it was bestowed upon him. We have the ability to fill in the gaps for one another. In fact, it is part of our purpose. It’s how humanity was meant to grow in love and compassion.
This awareness of the different needs within to find happiness in life is so important. This shift in awareness is vital because on one hand, it keeps us from reverting to a characterization of victimhood where we believe we have nothing to offer this world. That mentality forces us to conclude we are powerless in our circumstances or even that our very presence is a statement of bad luck and a testament to the wake of damage we will inevitably leave behind for even trying. On the other hand, if we attempt to help another person without engaging from a place of empathy, or acknowledging we also have needs, it will leave our interactions with that person directional (or one sided). This approach allows barriers to stay in place and it allows us to keep ourselves at a distance, taking on God-complexes of superiority to say, “I have something you need and I choose where to give it.” We will discuss these trains of thought.
Thad goes on to discuss cyclical compassion Cyclical compassion is a new cycle that creates tangible change when we participate without asking, “What is in it for me?” and instead begin saying, “Here is what I can offer.” Cyclical compassion opens the door for humility where we can simultaneously posture ourselves to accept love and grace in return. Our world view continues to grow as we see the positive feedback loop this cycle creates. It awakens us to issues like the pain, destruction, despair and loneliness created in our competitive efforts toward the futile labeled horizon of “success.” Then, and only then, do we see that success in life is not about climbing a corporate ladder, accumulating wealth and possessions, or striving to be the best employee, athlete, student, family, fill in the _______. No, the more our worldview expands, the more we realize the only competition that matters in this life is in living life to our fullest potential: a life full of grace and compassion for all of the “poor” in the world; including ourselves.
I’d like to simplify this conversation by focusing on three major types of roadblocks that I think we can all relate to and let you unfold the rest in your own discernments.
#1) Fearful doubt: “What if I’m wrong?”
If purgatory exists, it’s known here on earth as the intensive care unit (ICU). I was in Utah with my stepfather visiting his son, Kris, in the hospital. ICUs are stressful places and you are never visiting one because a friend or family member is doing “well” by any definition. Aside from an operating table, it is the most serious place a person can be within the hospital. Kris had a stroke of bad luck in his childhood when a virus went to his heart. The damage was permanent and irreversible. Although Kris did his best to stay as healthy and active as possible, 30 years later he would find himself battling a flu he just couldn’t shake. He was dropped off at the local emergency room and upon entering the hospital he collapsed as his heart stopped beating not once, but twice. A week, a day, an hour earlier, anything short of him walking into the hospital and he would not be alive. I did my best to convey to his father what he was about to see, but nothing can prepare a father to see his son connected to a dozen machines including ECMO, a machine that was beating for Kris’s heart. Conversations take on a whole new meaning when you can’t speak to your child who has multiple tubes down his throat breathing for him. Walking up to the bedside, I froze. I didn’t know what to say to my brother, I didn’t know what to say to my stepfather, I didn’t know what to say, period.
I returned to the waiting room to clear my head and stared out the window at the mountains. A voice broke my concentration as I turned to see a woman with long black hair talking on a cell phone. I overheard her conversation and watched as she broke tragic news to a sibling over the phone. She collapsed to the floor, sobbing hysterically. I didn’t ask her if she was ok or if she needed anything, I didn’t offer a shoulder to cry on, I just stood there watching, entrenched in an isolated state of chaos and confusion. I wanted to reach out a hand, to say something, anything, but my mind began to race: What if she wants to be left alone? What if she gets mad at me for asking? What if she just needs space? Sure, but what if I’m wrong?
While we’ve all been in such a situation, this “armor” or “cage” can feel intangible and difficult to discern. Putting it in context, we might realize how this notion of being “wrong” can actually be used in reverse to eliminate this roadblock entirely. To be clear, this isn’t a conversation limited to big events in hospital waiting rooms. Loneliness, despair and isolation are real and everywhere. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there is an average of 121 suicides per day amounting to 44,193 deaths per year. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. And for every successful attempt, there are 25 failed attempts. That’s over 1.1 million suicide attempts per year just in the United Sates. Most of us know at least one person who has been affected by suicide, but let’s take this one step further. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million Americans battle with anxiety and depression on a daily basis. Loneliness, despair and isolation have touched every one of us. Know these statistics not because I researched them on Google. I know them because I’ve experienced them personally and have seen or heard a similar experience in just about every relationship in my life. Why, then, didn’t I reach out to ask that woman if she was ok? Why couldn’t I look my brother in the eyes? Why didn’t I say anything to my stepfather? Those are the initial questions and they open the floodgates to many more. Remember, this isn’t just a conversation about a person poor in health. Why do I briskly walk past a homeless person who is asking for money? Why do I avoid making eye contact with the person sitting silently on the bus staring at the floor? Why don’t I say thank you to the person taking out the trash at the office building or ask the mother of three if she needs a hand with her groceries – especially as the youngest begins to have a meltdown in the checkout aisle?
Compassion is one of the most in-depth elements of a relationship we can have with another and with ourselves. This notion of being wrong—feeding our doubt in what we have to offer and to give—is significant in and of itself and it ties right into what I find to be the most common roadblock to compassion.
#2 Convenient Compassion: “Is this easy and agreeable for me?”
I have had a million excuses to keep me at bay when it comes to practicing compassion. It’s not to say I’m not full of compassion; it’s just that compassion feels more or less accessible when it is convenient for me. When my day is going well, I’m rested, I’m caught up on my to-do list, my hair looks good and my new shoes fit just right, of course I’m happy to help then! But how often does that happen? What about when I am indeed tired, exhausted, frustrated, furious, behind, really behind, late, or extremely late? Don’t even get me started if I have a personal feud with you. Under any of these circumstances I suddenly have a whole new set of questions and standards that enable me to avoid compassion. I’m not talking about the obvious questions like what if I’m more late or what if this makes me fall even more behind… no, those make me sound selfish so I have newer and more preferred questions I can ask that make it better for them that I don’t get involved: What if that person isn’t struggling? What if they are offended by me asking? What if they think I’m a creep or a jerk? What if I embarrass them? What if they embarrass me? What if I say something wrong? What if I cause a scene? What if they say “no” or laugh in my face? Sure, but what if I’m wrong? What if that person has no one left? What if no one has reached out and asked them how they are doing? What if they haven’t heard that they are loved or that they matter or that they have worth in days, or months or even years? What if they just want someone to talk to, someone to say it is going to be ok or someone to tell them they aren’t crazy or alone? The truth is, I’m not a genie, I don’t know.
Are you ready for the most frustrating part?
Offering compassion isn’t going to happen conveniently for you just like there is never a convenient time for that bad or earth-shattering thing to happen in the first place. Who has ever offered condolences for the death of a pet and that owner responds, “Oh not to worry, it was a convenient time for Sparky to die.” No form of pain in your life happens at a convenient time and your compassion should not be predicated on convenience either. Yes, it will interrupt your perfectly planned week. It will come at 3 a.m. while you are sick in bed with the flu.
#3 Judgment: “Do they deserve compassion?” This is by far the hardest to discuss. In fact, I knew it would be easier if I left it out in the hopes that you might skim past this section without bringing it up.
Thad writes, “If we are all being completely honest, I think most of us have battled serious issues of doubts, loneliness, anger, funks, or resentment in our lives, all but lashing out at the heavens to scream “Why!?” But sometimes, the desire to take another step beyond questions like, “Should I keep going?” or “What is even the point of all of this?” comes not from within, but from another person. Not necessarily a person who shared some wisdom or had some answer for us, but a friend, a lover, a stranger: someone who was simply present in a difficult time. Who reminds us that we are loved. Who helps us see that we all make mistakes and we aren’t actually alone in this world no matter how hard that can feel at times. Most importantly, this is someone who takes time to notice and genuinely cares: someone whose compassion isn’t constrained by conveniences, by the fear of being wrong, or by determining if you deserve it or not. “
TCompassion is the source of vitality in this life. Compassion takes on more power than any other entity. It’s a means to stop unnecessary suffering. It’s a step toward ending the tragic statistics of depression and suicide of people poor in life, a step toward visiting that person in the hospital who is poor in health, a step toward supporting a group of persons in Haiti who have no resources and a step toward building a relationship with a person who may be penniless and homeless. For all of my friends out there thinking you don’t have a compassionate bone in your body, I want to make it clear that compassion isn’t just a necessary component of life nor an elusive trait of selfless servers and non-profits.
Compassion is in all of us at the core of our being. We already have it because it is the fundamental basis to the very essence of who we truly are. We are born of compassion and we can only exist in this life through the substance of compassion. Sometimes we just have to change our vantage point in order to see this, as well as believe it. That’s what this discussion is ultimately about: a change in perspective. If you don’t believe in this for one reason or another, that is ok. I fought this reality for years. But I still want to challenge you to read this book from a place of openness and to consider one vital train of thought: What if it could be true, that compassion is the essence of my existence, and how would that viewpoint change my outlook on life?
What is GIVING YOURSELF GRACE? Is it time to let go of the competition and your past?
If we cannot give ourselves grace, then how are we ever going to be able to receive grace? If we cannot receive grace, then how are we ever going to be able to give grace to others?
We all have unique ways in which we respond to determining Giving Yourself Grace 35 our worth and value. It follows this belief that if you only knew who I was, the real me, that might not be good enough. Or you might condemn me for those flaws and insecurities. This fear is deeply ingrained and sourced from two forces in our lives that are keeping us from offering grace to ourselves: societal influences and our own belief in our unworthiness (and both of these tend to feed off of each other). Our ancestral roots, for example, have a dark history that desired, longed for, and loved to bear witness to atrocities like beheadings, hangings, stoning’s, and crucifixions. Forget the notion of pain for a moment; these ordeals were meant to be publicly humiliating… to completely shatter a person’s worth for the world to see and cast their judgments upon. These are no longer legal forms of punishment in this country, so instead we have easy access to platforms like social media to get our fix for public shaming. Social media has its positive aspects, I know, but much of this new-found access to judgment is nothing short of an epidemic.
The biggest regret I had when the doors closed was not losing all the money, it was shutting down my community food program It made me question my ability to even help people in the first place; it was like an acid burning away the part of my soul that longed to serve this world and I was not mentally prepared for its corrosive powers. It took months for me to consider the thought of volunteering or helping my community again. Months to face the narratives and redefine a new one based on who I am, not on what others perceived me to be. Eventually I was able to find the desire to serve again. Still, that message sits in my phone two years later as a reminder of this battle I am continually bumping up against. A battle to not only question everything I see and hear elsewhere, but a battle to keep a close watch on how I am defining my worth and value, especially when it comes to offering myself grace.
I often refer back to Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, when he talks about our ability to communicate as one of the greatest gifts we humans have. Sadly, we often abuse and misuse this gift. He states, “But like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you.” Hitler brought the entire world to its knees through the power of his word simply by preying on the fears and securities of others.
Let me be blunt. We have an addiction to platforms like social media, yes, but it’s a larger issue than that. We face a cultural addiction. It’s not just about getting the right selfie for our profile picture or the right sunset shot for our Instagram. It has evolved to the way we carry ourselves in our work or how we engage with friends and family dating back to the post World War II era of “keeping up with the Jones’s.”
Before, we had a cultural addiction of trying to keep up with everyone; now, we attempt to one-up everyone. Uniqueness and being on top have now become the goal. Being unique is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s when we want to look and perceive ourselves as being so unique that we begin to lose our true uniqueness rooted in the depths of our soul, sacrificing this in order to create a new image with a higher altitude. When we are on “top,” it means everyone is looking up at us trying to catch up. It is easy not only to judge, but to get value when people are drooling at your feet to hear what story you are going to share next or when someone asks you where you bought that dress and inadvertently feel superior to others… that is when things start to fall apart.
Sheryl thinks what Thad wrote is a very important insight into soul and personal growth We must take the issues deeper in order to understand, as well as resolve them. “So forget the flowers, the landscaping and diamonds and birthday parties. We must engage our partner to know and love them well, as is true for our neighbors, our children, and our friends. However, none of this is possible if we aren’t able to engage and love ourselves well – to step away from the games and root ourselves in the healing power of grace.
Thad may want you to remember this, “The next time you make a fairly decent mistake, get frustrated and start laying into yourself, write it down, get it all out and put it aside. After several days when things have calmed down and the moment has passed, go back and read what you wrote. Ask yourself if you would say that to a coworker, a friend, a spouse or your child? What did that ultimately accomplish and how big of a mistake was it in the grand scheme of things? Are you using your words to create a beautiful dream or destroy everything around you?
We thank Thad Cummings for a sensible logical and wonderful way to appreciate compassion empathy and love from an inner sense of being without judgment and complications from our physical life challenges In summarizing today’s episode of Healing From Within we have seen what compassion really is and why there are barriers that prevent us from often engaging in opening our hearts and sharing with others who are in pain sorrow or challenged in some way out of our fear to make a mistake make it worse or appear like we are intruding. We have seen that if it feels right and we offer any assistance through love it will always be valuable and if not appreciated at the moment down the road may be remembered as a life line and a moment of true compassion.
Thad has shown us the journey of his soul has been to find ways to open to the impulses and alignment to Spirit, move past fear and simply be present and open to all possibilities. Thad writes, “I share these stories because from the simple mistakes to the deepest despair in life, we don’t tend to go easy on ourselves. Or we let our past mistakes define who we are in the present. It is imperative that we dissect both the external as well as the internal voices that keep us from having grace and compassion on ourselves. It has taken years, but I’m beginning to not only understand both sides of my own coin but also to alter my “why.” I continue to long to serve in my community and the more grace I’ve been able to have on myself, the less my baggage comes with me in my acts of service. The less it becomes about determining my worth or what others may think, and instead, I find myself more capable to share that grace with those I encounter.
I am Sheryl Glick host of Healing From Within and invite you to visit my website www.sherylglick.com to read about and listen to visionaries and spiritualists scientists medical professionals psychologists metaphysicians and those in the arts and music fields as we learn about our human and spiritual qualities know more about life and beyond and improve ourselves personally and collectively. Shows may be heard on www.dreamvisions7radio.com and www.webtalkradio.net