One of the greatest transformations to have occurred thus far in my life is the practice of compassion. I use the term “practice of”, because it is a journey with no finish line. Rather, I think it is a journey in which one destination opens a path to a new, unseen and unknown destination.
I hesitate to share only because I don’t want to imply that I am perfect at this practice, or even good at it. In fact, it was and is an area of my life where I struggle(d), which has made my journey so much more meaningful. It began with compassion for myself and that is where I would recommend anyone start this journey – this practice of compassion. Start with the self.
I was very successful in high school and college and earned many achievements. I was probably a little conceited as well. The walls of my bedroom as a high school and college student were peppered with plaques, trophies, accolades and pictures of performance related awards. I surrounded myself with constant reminders of my achievements. I wanted to remind myself and everyone else that I was somebody important. The result of this, I found later in life, was not a constant flow of affirmation and acceptance; it was quite the opposite. I began to focus on the second places, the spaces where no plaques hung, and the reminder that others out there were doing just as well as me – or better.
I wanted to be perfect. I wanted more titles. I wanted more security. I wanted more awards to convince myself that I was worthy – worthy of love and acceptance.
These plaques of fake oak and brass failed me. I found myself in a pretty dark place, and then further disaster struck — a failed engagement. A beautiful wedding was planned, but no wedding occurred.
What did these plaques and awards have to say? Nothing.