What compassion means to me


When I tried to write what compassion means to me, I had the hardest time. What amounts to a potential high school essay, I deleted and rewrote numerous time.

Maybe I didn’t say enough. Or I said too little.

I thought about telling you a story, but I couldn’t narrow down to a single event that would tell you what compassion looks like to me. (Strange, a storyteller not having a story to tell.)

I just have to tell you the best way I know how without a pretty polish or a spoon full of sugar.

To me, compassion is not pity or sympathy, which is just pity-light. It’s not a selfish act or emotion. It doesn’t involve somehow “proving” what a good person you are.

It’s the willingness to meet someone where he is. To not judge. To understand that you don’t get it.

You honestly don’t.

You may have had some similar situation happen. That’s entirely possible. Yet…

You don’t know everything he’s gone through. You don’t know what brought him to your door. His Truth is real. For this person, it’s a tangible thing he lives with.

He may not have handled the situation the way you would. He may have just dealt with it the best way he knew how, which maybe led to a negative outcome.

Don’t dismiss him because he made mistakes. Or his recovery is taking longer than yours. It matters. It happened. He’s a person.

People in general have a huge capacity to harm each other. We can be hurtful and thoughtless without meaning or with a fiery purpose. I know I’ve been too harsh. Sitting on my throne built on, “If you would just do xyz, you wouldn’t be like this.” and “How does anyone get into this situation?” Entirely too quick to judge.

This extends to my views of myself.

I’m such a mess. I’m a deeply flawed human being who consistently makes mistakes. I jump, misjudge the distance and fall short all too often. If we wore our inner scars on the outside, I would be a torn motley quilt of messily stitched patches, hurriedly sewn together with imprecision and decidedly lack of forethought.

I’m the embodiment of the bull in the China shop of life.

And that’s ok. Even as this imperfect patchwork, I have to recognize my value with my flaws. I must know myself, what I bring to this world and remember what I’ve overcome to get here. To not judge myself too harshly.

Before feeling that compassion for others, we must first give it to ourselves. Oh Ru Paul you were so right–

“If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

We have a huge capacity to love. There’s no limit to that metaphorical human heart. It pulses with beauty and hope. You can see it in the way the quiet elegance of the tides ebb and flow, the twinkle in your Mom’s eye when you give her a surprise visit and the giggles of a child playing with his puppy. It’s everywhere.

By giving that compassion to ourselves and others, we can tap into that heart. Make it stronger.

I urge you to join this movement of #1000Speak. Shed light to your corner of the internet. Together, we’ll make it shine like a clear summer’s night sky. Beautiful.

If you’re wondering what #1000Speak is, check out this video we made:

If you write a post, link it up here:


Filed under self realizations

35 Responses to What compassion means to me

  1. You are a wise woman. We DO have a huge capacity to harm and hurt…and we DO have a huge capacity to love. The duality is what makes it so important that we make a good choice. I love this and I love being part of 1000Speak with you – all of you!
    Lisa @ The Meaning of Me recently posted..Progress and ChangeMy Profile

  2. Simply & perfectly put. Love this.

  3. Tamara this is just gorgeous. I agree with Ru Paul and with every word you say here. We are of value, even with our flaws.
    I just utterly love this paragraph: “We have a huge capacity to love. There’s no limit to that metaphorical human heart. It pulses with beauty and hope. You can see it in the way the quiet elegance of the tides ebb and flow, the twinkle in your Mom’s eye when you give her a surprise visit and the giggles of a child playing with his puppy. It’s everywhere.”

    It is so important to look for that, not just the ugly side of life. Isn’t it so odd the way news programs mostly report the ugliness, rather than the beauty of life? “There’s no limit to that metaphorical human heart.” Wow, just wow.

    Thank you so much for all your hard work with the video – I so appreciate it!
    Yvonne recently posted..If not me, then who? All of us. #1000Speak the Thank YousMy Profile

    • Tamara Woods

      Thank you Yvonne. I’m so glad to be a part of this. How big it’s become and how it will surely grow in the future. Congratulations.

      When a friend of mine was going through a bout of depression, I noticed he was watching the news every time I talked to him. It was making it all so much worse. I had to advise him to stop watching the news so often. I’m not saying that was the cause of it, just that it was making him feel that much worse. If you don’t look outside of the scope of the news, you’ll miss all of the good.

  4. This is beautiful, Tamara, right from your heart and I feel that from you!!
    Christy Birmingham recently posted..How to be an optimistic personMy Profile

  5. Kim

    When I started writing, I was in a similar position. I felt as though I were writing a high school essay. Nevermind the fact I’ve been out of high school for 16 years. My writing was amateurish. After that, it began to feel like guilt. “Well, I can’t write about ABC because I did XYZ to so and so five years ago.” I had to forgive myself in that instant and realize I have learned from my mistakes and that no one is perfect.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I’m glad to be among so many talented and amazing writers like yourself.
    Kim recently posted..What the World Needs is More CompassionMy Profile

    • Tamara Woods

      Thank YOU Kim for swinging by and sharing your thoughts. I’m going to be checking out your blog tonight as well.

  6. Love the video you put together Tamara. Excellent! I just checked the links and it’s up to 600 something. I loved scrolling though just looking at the faces and titles of the different thumbnails. I love that so many people have participated so far. Like you I was also stumped for a new story to tell. But what I linked up fit in perfectly.
    Kenya G. Johnson recently posted..A Story of Compassion…My Profile

    • Tamara Woods

      Thank you Kenya! It was a fun challenge and I’m proud of the results. It’s up to 600! That’s so exciting. Yay! Oh yes, I enjoyed your post. It was perfect. I could relate to feeling like “other” all too well.

  7. Love, love, love the video, Tamara. And your take on compassion? Standing in a place of non-judgement??


    Blessings to you,
    Dani recently posted..The Science of Compassion #1000SpeakMy Profile

  8. Loving that RuPaul quote! And I can relate with feeling like I was in high school all over again! I really struggled with what I was going to write too. But in the end exactly what I wanted to say somehow flowed out of me. I love how you talk about how even if we have had a similar thing happen, we still do NOT know. I forget that sometimes, which sounds funny, but it is because I am a very empathetic person, so I relate well to other’s experiences. I enjoyed reading your piece. I felt very blessed to be a part of it all. #1000speak
    Drama Queen’s Momma recently posted..Compassion. Pass it on.My Profile

    • Tamara Woods

      That bit I have to remind myself of as well. I only get a portion of things. I might be able to relate, but that’s different. I’m glad you joined up. This has been an amazing ride that’s just going to get more interesting.

  9. I could feel that you wrote this from the depths of your heart and soul. Thank you so much. I was tearing up as I read because it was as though you were telling my story too. And God bless RuPaul. 😉 Sharing!!!
    Jackie @ The Courage In Me recently posted..Let Your Self-Compassion Shine – #1000SpeakMy Profile

  10. I can see we’re on the same page about compassion really is, TA. And really it’s part of our human nature to show compassion, but we allow a whole lot of other things to come in the way!
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..#1000Speak For CompassionMy Profile

    • Tamara Woods

      Wonderful Corinne, I can’t wait to swing by and see what you had to say. I agree, we let a lot of things stand in our way…unnecessary roadblocks, in my opinion.

  11. I think when a person tries to show compassion it often comes across as fake, I like to think I am a compassionate person but I don’t try to be compassionate for me it comes naturally
    Jo-Anne recently posted..Motivation ThursdayMy Profile

  12. I love what you wrote. Very real, sincere, and honest. I also like your profile picture. I clicked on the link before me (I am #177) and there you were… wings and all!
    Kathryn M. Bennett recently posted..The Angel of CompassionMy Profile

  13. I love your definition of compassion. No story needed. The message is clear and powerful. Such a beautiful testimony of SELF love and the collective heart we all feed, with compassion.
    Chris Carter recently posted..Help A Mom Out! THIS is Compassion.My Profile

  14. So let’s say hypothetically speaking, a friend comes to you with an issue and needs help, and that throne you are sitting on, “If you did this, then that wouldn’t have happened,” just curious, but is it still compassion if you help them out but still throw in an “I told you so?” LOL And yes, judgment is definitely a view of our own selves. Love your post.
    Michelle AKA Crumpets and Bollocks recently posted..How to be God: A tutorial on omnipotence and compassionMy Profile

    • Tamara Woods

      There you are, stirring the pot! Must be b/c where you’re from. I think it would make me a jerk. Lol.

  15. “To understand that you don’t get it. You honestly don’t.” – excellent and one of the biggest obstacles a person needs to overcome on the path to compassion. Our big ol’ ‘but’s always in the way… 🙂
    Tracy @ Crazy As Normal recently posted..Actions Are Louder (#1000Speak)My Profile

  16. Love this so much. But you know that. <3
    Starr Bryson recently posted..Do You Even Compassion Bro?My Profile

  17. Terrific post about compassion! I’m honored to be in such great company today!
    Rena McDaniel recently posted..#1000Speak For CompassionMy Profile

  18. ilirianwanderer

    “It’s the willingness to meet someone where he is. To not judge. To understand that you don’t get it.”

    Food for thought 🙂

    Nice post. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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