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52 Comments

  1. G. Chang, Teacher, San Jose, CA, USA says

    It would be helpful to give a demonstration of how you would get the client to feel more compassion toward a politically left or right person. What would the conversation be like? How would you get the client to converse with another person who has such opposing views to one’s own without getting angry, out of control, or sarcastic? So many people use the cliche: “Let’s just agree to disagree, so we don’t have any heated arguments.” What has happened to our culture? It seems like most people can’t even have an intelligent, honoring conversation about politics any more.

  2. Liz williams, Other, GB says

    A message from the heart from Denis Tirch – and one which seems to have pressed some buttons. Being compassionate is hard – very hard at times. There’s nothing “soft” about it, particularly when it doesn’t appear to change anything. Still worth doing, as compassion is a two-way process and something will change ….. ourselves.

  3. N Ade, Other, , DE, USA says

    This is a fabulous and extremely helpful video showing sensitivity and commitment by Dennis Tirch.

  4. DONNA DANIELS, USA says

    Love the being compassionate to ourselves first as we are living in very difficult times. Yet I do have to disagree with sending it back out to them. I have tried all I know to reach family & friends with love, kindness and listening. In the end it’s all about them, my views are wrong and all I listen to is racism, white supremacy, no sympathy whatsoever towards any other person suffering today whether it’s the virus, hunger, lack of money, becoming homeless etc. They don’t care period. It is unhealthy for me to continue to try and be compassionate for them. I would rather spread my energy and help those in need. Also it is much nicer to give compassion out to ones who feel the way you do as they are loving and kind also & don’t spread hate all day. It’s too much and I feel alot of the words towards this in this video are much too soft.

    • Liz Williams, Other, GB says

      Compassion is not soft – it is the hardest thing that we might ever do in our entire lives because it doesn’t necessarily get the results that we want. It can make us feel sad because we can’t help or can’t change the situation or someone’s mind.
      Compassion is definitely not for the faint-hearted!

      • K A, Psychotherapy, DC, USA says

        Liz – I can definitely relate to what you say. It is hard to be compassionate when you lose a close friend or sister due to Cov19 and can’t find anyone to blame nor what to hold on to feel in control. It hasn’t help anyone to be too self-reliant either. A little of faith in what the future hold can help that’s what I’ve learned.

    • CK Page, Another Field, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA says

      I observe the same things you do, Donna. What could be making his video/message appear soft is a missing coda (the exercise is a starting/entry point) that would appear to be beyond the scope of his video—he’s addressing mental health care-providers advocating the use of a technique to help clients, not a general strategy for resolving conflict. Essential to sending compassion to Others with differences is identifying what’s coming up for them that motivates them to present threats/create harm. The [missing] Coda to the video: Compassion doesn’t extend beyond identifying what’s coming up for them and seeing them as fellow Beings. Compassion takes the emotional edge off—it is not in itself a conflict resolution strategy (contrary to popular belief). Sometimes we do have to detach from toxicity/toxic others in the interest of self-care. In the cases were we have to separate, we can only move forward working towards resolving what’s coming up for those others in ways external to the specific relationships to remain healthy ourselves. I cannot fix (or “live with”/accept) the friends and family members whose political differences threaten/take actions harmful to both me and others who are suffering. I’m then limited to working to alter certain conditions that legitimately threaten them (not their unhealthy believed-trauma)—sadly even that is not always possible.

  5. Mary Cava, Psychology, AU says

    I find Tara Brach’s meditation re forgiveness helps me

  6. Patricia Stewart, Counseling, AU says

    A simple, powerful post. Thank you so much. Trishx

  7. Barbara Belton, Other, Cortez, CO, USA says

    Remembering a wonderful piece learned…”Because I always have a choice, I choose love.” and a chant someone shared: “Om Karuna Swaha” Love and compassions begin with me.

  8. Wendy Johnson, Teacher, Billings, MT, USA says

    I do like this short video and reminder of being compassionate towards ourselves first and extending it outwards, detaching ourselves from the the vitriol within and outside ourselves.

  9. ana says

    Yes most my clients are feeling “me against them”. Inviting self compassion and with “an authentic way” send it out to the ‘enemy”sounds
    wonderful and doable. hard part is to assist the client identifying ways to feel real sympathy and kindness towards their imagined ‘enemy”

    • Sonia Leao, Another Field, DE says

      Yes Ana, I understand the dificulties of our clients to work with compassion. Almost all of my clients have problem to have compassion with themself, and with other people it is indeed dificult. But when they understand that this energy that they are sending is the comprehension of their feelings, their sufferings, because we also feel know those states of mind and heart, they atarts to accept that it does not mean that they have to become friends, good fellows or something like this. Many times it happens, that people become closer, but it must not be. But our heart is free from this “enemy” state of mind.

  10. Robert Leichtman, Psychology, Towson, MD, USA says

    Excellent advice for on the spot treatment of surges of anger and despair. Bravo for emphasizing the healing must begin with ourself to become centered in our humanity and love….and THEN send it out to those who are distressed.

  11. Maija Wiik, Counseling, CA says

    Excellent reminder of how to use loving kindness meditation practice to fire up the nervous system to get into a place where one can connect with compassion within oneself first. Explained in layman terms so it does not sound ‘too’ Buddhist or psych-babble’ist. This will be helpful with clients!

  12. Elizabeth Grace, Counseling, CA says

    Yes, this is what works for me in my own practice. I have talked to others and asked them to consider how it would be in the world if all the people with whom they disagree could benefit from sending compassion to them. If this compassion could be extended from us to them, if they began to feel it, to reduce their own suffering, how different would it be? This is what we can send out when we have no influence otherwise. It helps me with my sense of powerlessness.

  13. Mary Ives, Nursing, CA says

    Beautifully and compassionately presented. This is wise response to what is and reflects the clear seeing that is so essential to a helpful wise response. I feel encouraged. Thank you.

  14. Jim Lentz, Counseling, Lexington, KY, USA says

    Thanks

  15. Robert Close, USA says

    Very balanced, compassionate, inclusive! Yes!
    Do you ever come to a HERE I STAND courageous moment?
    White supremacy and racism have been with us
    for hundreds of years and has been seriously
    increasing in the last 5 years. Right now certain states
    are changing laws so as to limit African American voters.
    This is not a time for passivity and sweet words.

  16. Richard Sulllivan, Social Work, CA says

    Political differences can reflect even larger differences at the level of fundamental values and beliefs, in which case compassionate divorce may be the best resolution. This can apply to extended family relations as well.

  17. Glennie Gord, Nursing, CA says

    Thank you for this reminder that everyone is suffering and compassion is the healer. So easy to forget…..

  18. susan anderson, Psychotherapy, USA says

    Yes, very helpful ‼️We are all in this together and having compassion for all through good breath is key! I like to think of the word, compassion as COMPASS of Ions- clean breath, deeply pulled from centered self will pas words of kindness and development of more space to remain free of all stress attached to fear.

    • Dianne D, Exercise Physiology, USA says

      I like the breakdown of the word compassion, as you have described. However, in truly applying that word, the truth is that we are not all in this together. MacArthur Park, in Los Ángeles, is completely full of homeless people in tents now due to joblessness. Do we have compassion, when we say the cliche, we are all in this together? No. We are not in a tent outside in winter, living a life of desperation, hunger and anxiety. People are genuinely suffering due to bad policy enforcing unemployment. Kids are committing suicide due to educational isolation. Juvenile mental hospitals are full. Please don’t use that catch phrase, we are in this together any more, if you really have compassion. It is superficial, untrue and encourages an utter indifference.

      • Gloria Gilbert, Santa Cruz, CA, USA says

        Amen.

      • Deborah L, Teacher, USA says

        Thank you for being our “eyes” to help us see the needs of many hurting around us. It takes each one of us to reach out compassionately to the hurting near us and distant from us.

      • Jan Lewis, Nursing, PUEBLO, CO, USA says

        I share this concern, having worked most of my career as a psychiatric nurse specialist with marginalized people. Having tried (with very minimal success; and admitting my frustrations!) the compassionate approach to those who have little understanding of systemic racism and other oppressive forces in our society, I have pretty much decided to focus my energies on working with those who DO understand these forces and are committed to doing something about them. I suspect that my example may be more powerful in the long run than anything I might try to say, no matter how compassionate.

        • Julie B, Counseling, BUFFALO, MN, USA says

          Yes

        • Wendy Johnson, Teacher, Billings, MT, USA says

          Jan, would you be open to hear another side to your concern? If so, then there are many writers and activists who are not proponents of systemic racism , such as Bob Woodson, Shelby Steele, Larry Elder, Candace Owens. They are all civil rights activists with a different point of view. If you are not familiar with them, you might want to look into some of their positive work.

        • BrightHeart Lewis Headrick, Social Work, USA says

          Jan Lewis, It is a pleasure to hear your voice raised in this discussion. I live in Loveland, CO As I looked for a nuanced reply I came up with this quote, more than adequate to foster some further conversation with you if you choose. “And let’s not forget “the most important thing.” It was a phrase [Shunryu] Suzuki Roshi used often. and since we never knew what was to follow it. it caught our attention and made us sit up and take note. “The most important thing” that comes to mind right now “is to be able to enjoy your life without being fooled by things.” May all beings be happy. healthy. and free from suffering. May all beings live in peace and harmony. Edward Espe Brown in the introduction of “Not Always So.”
          Not being fooled by things, and remaining kind to yourself (as someone worthy of care and compassion) sometimes includes moving away from other’s notions of separateness. Thus the pithy response, “Not always so.” …and move on.

      • cleotilda miller, Psychotherapy, CA says

        I am viewing this from a different lens. “Compassion” Are we in this together? my answer is yes. For one person it might be difficult to change the world and all the sufferings therein, but as a collective we can make change happened. Although at times we might feel helpless, that should not stop us from having compassion for ourselves as well as for others. We have to move beyond personalizing and instead try to understand the messages.

      • Adele Catzim, Psychotherapy, BZ says

        I agree with you. Compassion extends far and wide and can’t be used as a way to make us feel better about ourselves and then go back to same old, same old. Sometimes having compassion opens the space for us to be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable can lead us to growth if we allow ourselves to move beyond our own world to truly develop empathy.

        We must hold ourselves accountable as well as hold others accountable – including the media that is perpetuating fear.
        I choose love over fear.

        Thank you for your intervention.

        • K Al, USA says

          It appears to me that there is confusion around the terms empathy, sympathy and most of all compassion, a word used randomly for anything. Just my 2 cents. Compassion is not the key to all our societal problems

  19. Beverley A'Court, Psychotherapy, GB says

    Thank you, this is a timely reminder of wise skills I had completely lost / forgotten over the past days, amidst the turbulence of several painful interactions with family and community. My benign motivation and contributing my voice & thoughts during the flow of conversation was received and interpreted as ‘frightening’ someone, my (pretty well-researched) opinions and suggestions unwelcome & forcefully rejected and myself labelled with familiar, divisive, polarising identity-politics stereotypes currently trending here in the UK. I went into a kind of shock at what felt like misrepresentation and rejection, and transformed my quietly creative lockdown ‘retreat’ into profound isolation, exclusion and loneliness. So it was perfect timing to receive this beautifully worded video. I went into my loneliness & an image of a white chrysanthememum blossom arose, its long teardrop petals all falling, cascading away in a cloud with a sweet-citrus aroma & I felt all my somatic agitation settle. That, plus a little slow, mindful yoga and I am back ‘at home in myself’ feeling able to live and let live, not needing others to share my perceptions. I appreciate this reminder that I can extend compassion without feeling so responsible for others’ well being that I am compelled to speak (even if it feels like truth) in every conversation.

  20. Gerard Wrobel, Coach, Boone, NC, USA says

    Thank you. Helpful and needed message.

  21. Jane Legwold, Nursing, Minneapolis, MN, USA says

    Not so much. I have found work of Janina Fisher very helpful looking at trauma and parts of self very helpful, learning about and recognizing their own implicit memories. Then work of Non-violent Communications also very helpful. This is with couple who are so activated around the political differences and how unsafe they felt with each other. Was easier with couple because I was able to mostly stay out of tension rather than it being somehow directed at me. Readily I was able to see his woundedness and I guess feel compassion towards him.

  22. Marcia Hershkowitz, Teacher, Sedona, AZ, USA says

    Being compassionate to clients and students is easy because I am in a teaching, parental role, and remain detached and rarely show my personal preferences. But political differences around government ideologies, prohibition vs. self regulation, mask wearing, vaccinations with friends, family, colleagues, employers impose threats and perhaps consequences to my safety and beliefs that do not happen with clients or students where I exercise ground rules around social distancing and conventional medical intervention. My mother always warned how personal discussions about politics, sex, money, religion could be hazardous and to exercise caution. She is right. When I fail to press the pause button that allows me to switch from intellect to compassion or intuition, fireworks begin! And my inner Jackie Gleason appears, however he does not show up in my sessions or classrooms. But when clients exhibit deep wounds about political differences, I try to discuss how dwelling on unenforceable rules or anything will blow it out of proportion, and take up too much space in their mind. Also recursive thoughts, while comfortable in their stability may not be helpful or uplifting. And we do exercises such as positive thinking, mantra, affirmations, asanas, singing, chanting, or plan selfless service, projects or ways clients can contribute and support their views iand feelings of self worth, satisfaction and peace in the world. I try to put the do not harm principle into effect in my personal interactions and avoid putting people on hot seats when possible. If I feel unsafe because a person is not socially distancing from me, it is my responsibility to upgrade my mask to an N95, and wear gloves and clean more thoroughly, tell management and yes apologize for reacting in a heated way. It’s often not what you say but how it’s said.

  23. Ann Friedenheim, Counseling, Allentown, PA, USA says

    A helpful grounding in the METTA meditation !
    Hard to do with white supremacy agenda as a daughter of a German Jewish immigrants of 1941. However, will explore within myself and Will approach a client with this idea for her marital political strife. Thank you for this suggestion.

  24. Kim Olson, Other, Wallingford , PA, USA says

    His words were helpful but a demonstration of the actual compassion exercise would have been more helpful to me. Modeling it always helps me more.
    Thank you ?

  25. Nicki Holland, Psychotherapy, GB says

    I have just this moment been working with a client on this subject and so Dennis’s words have helped to replenish my bank of compassion. Thank you

  26. Suzette Mis, Supervisor, AU says

    I’m Australian. What has happened in the US was quite shocking. In trying to figure it out, I wrote 2 articles to better understand the psychology of Trump supporters. Not necessarily for “compassionate” reasons, but rather to work out what propels people to follow others to be so violent? The articles are aimed at psychiatrists and mental health practitioners. But then I put them on medium.com for free for the general public. It offers a different type of “compassion”, one that maintains a level of curiosity that is very much needed in today’s world – especially if we are to prevent further toxic scenarios. Interested people just need to Google my name and they will find these articles and some research I did entitled: “Lives unseen: unacknowledged trauma of non-disordered, competent Adult Children Of Parents with a Severe Mental Illness”.
    I strongly believe that the more we learn about trauma and grief the better the world will become.

    Thanks, Suzette Misrachi

    • Sandra Shechter, Other, CA says

      With all due respect Suzette singling out one side as deranged misses the entire point. Trust me, I’ve seen it on BOTH sides. Since 2017 in fact. Perhaps too much violent TV in the culture? Pure hate dressed up as virtue. I’m Canadian and we have been exposed to too much virtue that is not followed by equivalent action. Do as I say but not as I do. Looking for techniques to cut through that because it is unhealthy.

      • Elizabeth Levesque, Other, CA says

        I believe you have misread this response. She is actually saying to have “curiosity” about the other side while having compassion for self.

        • Wendy Johnson, Teacher, Billings, MT, USA says

          I would agree that people from other countries are not qualified to pass judgement on those in the US for the very reasons that Laurie states. Now, that being said, she is entitled to her opinion.

          • CK Page, Another Field, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA says

            “Not qualified”? Why? Are Americans so omnipotent we shouldn’t listen to not-US-Americans? To disregard an “outsider” perspective with no skin in our game is akin to disregarding a professional’s 3rd party informed observations (disregarding pros is quite popular in the US right now). In real-life personal practice, seeking an outsider/3rd party POV when mired in extreme problems is the wise and rational thing to do.

        • John Balles, Another Field, Upland, CA, USA says

          Laurie Bowles: Good call. Thank you for speaking the truth.

      • Lauryn Haffner, Nursing, Amityville, NY, USA says

        Completely agree. It’s shocking how self absorbed and judge mental people can be all while claiming to be the compassionate ones. Wow. What a turn off.

      • CK Page, Another Field, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA says

        Sandra, “singling out one side as deranged”? Where did Suzette write that? In the US (I’m Californian) “both sides” has become a toxic belief in light of the facts on the ground.

    • Jan Lewis, Nursing, PUEBLO, CO, USA says

      Thanks, Suzette! I just read your two article about Trump supporters on Medium and appreciate your perspectives both as an “outsider” and as a trauma expert. I left a more lengthy comment on Medium, but will just say here that the approach of “I’m curious” is I think a very useful one as we try to talk with those who hold very opposing views to our own. “I’m curious how you came to this view on X or Y or Z.” And then perhaps following that with “Are you interested in my perspective?” This has served me fairly well on Twitter where I have tried with some success to engage with those of opposing views on abortion–a continuing hot topic that will not go away anytime soon.

    • Stacy Youst, Other, Rochester , NY, USA says

      I’ll look now, thanks!

    • CK Page, Another Field, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA says

      Thank you, Suzette, for an “outside” perspective. We in the US are so mired in this well-intentioned but unhealthful (and cultural-political self-sabotage) “both-sides” mindset. US Americans have created many other unhealthful mindsets on matters such as “forgiveness”—forgiveness is absolute and always required even where abusers are concerned. Unfortunately many professionals in the US American mental health community are fully invested in these well-intentioned but counterproductive beliefs/strategies. I found your articles on Medium including “Trump: How can trauma help explain his die-hard support?” particularly insightful. “Compassion that maintains a level of curiosity” is a refreshing and healthy departure from toxic “both-sides” and “absolute forgiveness” belief systems. Now if we can only get buy-in within the US mental health community…

  27. Ursula Poulou, Other, CH says

    Yes, me 🙂
    Just listened to what Dennis shared.
    While listening, something in me was so touched that I started crying. All my body was involved. Noe it stopped and I feel space and peace in me right now.
    THANK to everybody of us, sharing what we are !

  28. Ruth Howard, Physical Therapy, CH says

    Dear Mr. Tirch,

    this is right on! It is so very challenging during these strange times to not ‘walk around with a sword in my hands’, and to not judge those that are ‘on the other side’ (the wrong side, from my perspective) often seems impossible.

    Still, I wish to walk on the path of peace, towards myself and towards others, no matter which ‘side’ they’re on. So thank you for your inspirational words!