Compassion: Its all about relationships

Last year I attended a forum called the Compassionate Revolution. The idea of the conference was to take a stand athe critical importance of compassion in improving health outcomes and how can we need to weave this back in to the provision of health.

What I liked about the forum was the reminder that compassion isn’t about being fluffy and nice, it showed us that bringing compassion to our relationships with others delivers concrete benefits that can be measured in terms of better health outcomes.

In my work we know that the quality of our relationship with clients, in many cases children, is the essential component for delivering better outcomes. Our technical skills in counselling or therapy are all leveraged of the quality of our relationships.

Compassion is an essential ingredient in establishing this relationship. It requires us to look at the person and their experience of life with an openness that won’t occur if we want to make them only the sum of their current behavior.

Compassion opens us to depth; it stops us from harsh judgments made in moments. It has a curiosity about who the person is and what has occurred in their life. Compassion “gets” that people experience an enormous variety of good and adverse situations that might be reflected in how they present. It “gets” that this is not the sum total of who they are, but sees that their true potential requires some attentiveness to unlock. It requires of us seek and be open to some depth of truth and understanding.

This is not to say that we somehow excuse behavior that is unacceptable, this behavior has to be addressed but it requires us to address it with more depth and it is there we are likely to find a way forward to a longer term sustained positive change.

A compassionate world allows all of us to experience one another with a greater level of acceptance and understanding. It provides the capacity to know, through highs and lows, that people are with us, not against us. It means we are there for one another in moments and in lifetimes.

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