In the Oxford English dictionary, the word compassion is defined as ‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others’. The Middle English word is thought to have originated from Anglo-French and in turn from the Late Latin word compassio, meaning to sympathize, to bear, suffer. In numerous philosophies and almost all of the major religions, compassion is ranked as one of the greatest virtues.
The ability to be able to identify with another individual is a key component of what makes us human. Mirrored behaviours start in early infancy, with the mimicking of facial expressions and body movements of parents and carers. Such behaviours are highly related to the concept of compassion.
However the idea that a parent can alienate their own children against the other parent is difficult to understand and comprehend. To engage in such behaviours requires a complete lack of compassion on the part of the alienating parent. Divorce and separation is all too often painful and emotionally difficult and children invariably suffer to some degree. However as much as some parents are antagonistic towards one another, most if not all attempt to shield their children from the emotional and psychological fallout from the breakdown of a relationship. This is not the case for parents that alienate, narcissistic traits are what drive alienating behaviours, along with a nonsensical need for revenge and/or control.
Ironically I have never been the recipient of so much compassion from others. Such circumstances allow you to find out who your real friends are. Such scenarios can bring the alienated members of the family closer together, and an outpouring of compassion to one another occurs. Extraordinarily, it is with compassion that the victims of parental alienation at times examine the emotional make-up of the alienator, looking for answers, trying to understand why someone would behave in such a uncompassionate manner, with such devastating effects on those around them.
When one is at their lowest ebb, one can become isolative and the magnitude of what is ahead becomes almost too much to bear and all-consuming. A few days ago someone challenged me about this mind-set. They put it to me that when we find ourselves beginning to hide ourselves away as a maladaptive way of coping, in turn we are arguably shutting those people out that are doing their upmost to be there for us. This individual also went on to remind me that such an inner circle of friends, the ones we trust and rely on the most, their love and support is ultimately underpinned by their compassion for others. And ultimately it is one’s own love, appreciation and compassion towards such people that should be capitalised upon to ensure we do not shut them out. In essence we should embrace the love, support and compassion that is being given.
In my humble opinion, I feel that it is virtues such as love and compassion for others that drive us to continue in the most difficult of situations.
“You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them — for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions” Dalai Lama.