In my experience, the word compassion is not often used among young people. Whether this is because it’s meaning is not understood, or because it is just not something that young people think about, I believe that compassion is vital in every young person’s life. Both compassion for oneself and compassion for others.
A quote from Buddha…”If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete”.
So often we hear about the importance of being compassionate and kind towards others, but what about ourselves?
Life can be challenging and particularly for young people, who are going through so many changes, physically, mentally and spiritually. It is during adolescence and young adulthood that many individuals may experience challenges with their mental health and wellbeing. Young people are caught up with the desire to belong and the search for meaning and purpose that can become overwhelming and daunting at times. This can lead to a loss of the meaning and importance of compassion in everyday life for young people. Losing compassion for oneself often leads to a loss of compassion for others. This can be seen in many contexts, particularly in the school environment where young people may engage in bullying. What is at the root of this bullying? I believe it is a lack of compassion for oneself, which leads to a lack of compassion for others. So compassion starts with you. If you have compassion for yourself, you can then show compassion towards others.
Another significant insight surrounding compassion comes from Brene Brown. She states “Compassion is not a virtue, it is a commitment. It’s not something we have or don’t have, it’s something we choose to practice”. I believe this statement touches on another crucial aspect of compassion. Everyone has the capacity to show compassion and to be compassionate is a choice.
If young people can make the conscious decision to be compassionate to themselves first, being compassionate to others will naturally follow. Making a commitment to practice self compassion, and compassion for others is something that young people can draw on to help them face the difficulties and challenges that arise each day. Compassion costs nothing but is worth everything.
- Katie Newton, Practice Support at Fostering Hope Psychology