TTC: What is the difference between empathy and compassion – and how can this understanding help us as we TTC? Empathy is the capacity to feel what other people feel and be able to take their view and be with them when they’re going through something tough. Compassion includes empathy, being able to feel with others, but also has the quality of caring and looking for ways to help. The American Buddhist teacher, Tara Brach tells a lovely story about a teenage boy and his mum watching the news. The boy said “I was watching the news and all these dreadful things were happening and my mother used to say, yes, all this is going on, but look for the helpers. Within tragedy there are always those who are supporting and helping – pay attention to them.”
Pay attention to those who support you
When we feel frustrated with what is going on in our lives we tend to focus on the parts that aren’t going so well or are difficult. Is it possible to also look at what is going right? This is not to deny the difficulties that you’re experiencing, but it helps you to look at what you’re going through with a more balanced perspective. Can you actively notice the people in your life that are supporting you, guiding you and helping you through this difficult time? So often we take these people for granted – like the boy watching the news, we can choose to focus on the adversity in front of us, or we can look and see who is helping us and pay attention to them. When we stop and notice, we start to feel gratitude for the support that we have, rather than what we don’t.
Who helps you?
How would it feel to contact them, call them up or send them a text or an email or even a hand written note, to say how much their support means to you? These small kindnesses are lovely to receive and make you feel good too.
Who do you help?
If you’re on social media you might be part of the hashtag #TTC community on Instagram or Facebook. Helping your #TTCsister’s by offering advice, support and encouragement is a lovely way to be actively compassionate. Maybe within your relationship you can support your partner and be compassionate by showing them how much you care and appreciate them. You can do this with love notes, making favourite foods and listening without judgement when they’re struggling. Don’t underestimate this type of compassion. Supporting and connecting makes you feel happy because you’re talking about what you’re going through in an authentic and loving way.
When we’re compassionate, we’re sharing, we’re relating, and we’re helping both ourselves and others. When we feel grounded and happy we are much more able to keep going on this path to motherhood.
Bring it on.
*TTC Trying To Conceive