Compassion at the Forefront

It’s easy to assume malicious intent when someone does or says something that hurts us, but a more likely reason for their behavior is simply that they do not know how to act differently.

The fact is that people often do not even know that they are being hurtful when we feel that they are or were. They simply do their thing and keep going on about their lives with little regard for how others feel about their actions. This apparent lack of concern is not due to apathy, but is because they have their own feelings, insecurities, and problems to tend to.

Really, most hurtful interactions are the result of a misunderstanding. One person does or says something that is interpreted by the recipient in a way that is different from how the communicator intended. This is then exacerbated by the recipient’s inability or unwillingness to communicate his or her hurt feelings so as to clear the air, and the relationship becomes strained by something that may have simply been innocent or unintended.

When we are hurt or offended, we must find a way to step back from our feelings and to examine these emotions through a filter of compassion and understanding. Better still, why should we wait until misunderstandings and hurt feelings crop up before we are compassionate and understanding? If we approach relationships proactively, instead of reactively, if we bring compassion and understanding to the forefront of our interactions, we may find that everyone involved is less likely to be hurt or offended.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted.

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