During a crisis, Compassion operates at three different levels. Looking out for your close family and friends is one level, but you also need to look beyond your circle and determine how you can help others in your community, many of whom you may not even know. The third level of Compassion is self-care.
Self-care is important when facing a crisis. You’ve heard the advice that in the event of a plane crash, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first to make sure you are able to help others. Self-care in a crisis is as important as helping others. If you are so focused on others, that you wear yourself down, you are unable to help others and may require care for yourself.
Helping those in your circle is the easiest to understand. These are people you see regularly and know well. Being aware of needs comes much easier when you know someone. Still, it’s important to confirm with who you are helping that you are doing what they want or need. Sometimes we assume to know what’s best and that isn’t always the case. During a crisis, sometimes there are more hurts than what you can fix. It’s important to recognize your limitations and recommend professional help when it’s needed.
During a crisis, there are often hurts in the greater community. Right now, food insecurity is a big hurt for many families. With some schools on remote learning, children are often missing meals they would have received from services at school. With the high rate of unemployment, many are struggling who have never struggled before. Donating to food pantries can help alleviate the suffering of neighbors. Anytime that you are compassionate to others, whether they are in your family or not, always leaves your own heart a little lighter.
During this crisis, look for ways to offer Compassion to those around you and feed your own heart at the same time.