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  • Writer's picturegaurimaini

Yet again, I write about compassion...

The human brain has evolved to develop sophisticated cognitive capacities that means we can imagine stuff and our body will biologically respond to our imagination as though it is for real.

This is true.

And I know it because I laboriously researched this topic as part of my quest to write an essay for my study in Coaching Psychology.

In his book, which has the cutest title I know holding the most fascinating wisdom I have read, Saplosky talks about why the human mind can easily get fixated with imaginary stressors. If you can't read the book "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" listen to him talk!

So this pre-disposition to perceive threats is also well researched and our instinctive response to protect ourselves from possibly imagined threats can preclude us from pursuing the stuff we truly desire. That stuff that is deeply meaningful to us and is terribly important. So important that we want to protect ourselves just in case we are not disappointed. We may think it is not do-able or that it is too hard, or that we do not have the capability or the time or .... you get the drift :)

So why compassion?

Well, the reason is that when we listen to our voice, really listen, we may understand why it is so important. And for a moment, instead of responding to it, we could just make room for it. Listen. With an open heart. Fear may show up. So might anxiety. So might good old fashioned scepticism. Sit with it and let it inform you. Take it for a walk in the park with you. Whilst you get distracted by the foliage and the blooms or the chirping of the birds... let it sit on your shoulder, talking away, whilst you also ponder about what is truly important and how you might go about doing it.

This is what Saplosky asks us to do - we also have the potential to hold our stressors in perspective. We have that wisdom. And we are wired to pursue meaning. We get it from the work we do, from the relationships we have.

The trick is perspective. Can we learn to hold our thoughts lightly? Can we balance our own self and others? Can we inquire thoughtfully and also advocate for what we are passionate about? When we do both, we can create an emotionally spacious space that may make it safe to go exploring.

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