Another Side to Compassion

I’m in charge of a dinner and program tonight for 60 women.

I was on my feet all day yesterday shopping, prepping, cleaning, gathering, etc. And today I will be going full steam ahead cooking, decorating, hauling and setting up. I can already imagine my future back pain. I’m getting old and these big gigs aren’t as easy as they used to be.

Plus I was down all day Sunday with some kind of stomach bug. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I lost three pounds in one day as a result. I’m still not a 100%.

Yesterday, I got a text from a friend that said, “Hey, I know you’re not feeling awesome. Can I help you out tomorrow?”

I thought about how to reply for at least three minutes. My first instinct was to say “I’m good” or “I’m fine” or “I’ll be okay,” but then I I told myself, “You have a huge task ahead, you are not feeling well, and someone wants to help you. Take her up on something.” I racked my brain for what she could do to help me.

I replied, “Thank you, Mindy! You could chop Oreos for me or slice strawberries?”

She volunteered to do both.

I’m writing about this text exchange because I want to see more like it- more content communication, more times where help is offered and help is accepted in a clear, precise, matter of fact way.

Many women are great at giving help, but crappy at receiving it. I want to see women accepting help better. And I want to know what I need more, so when someone asks me how they can help, I can answer them.

My resolve to receive service better was rekindled when I read “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown this last month. She got me thinking about the true relationship between giving and receiving help and how both are required for true compassion to develop.

Photo courtesy of

How many of us judge ourselves when we need help? Maybe we are disappointed or embarrassed that we can’t do it all? Or we think we are weak or lazy or not as talented. We worry we will be judged or seen as less than capable. Many women think service is for others, but not for them.

Ms. Brown points out that you can’t show full compassion for someone else if you haven’t learned compassion for yourself. She says, “When you cannot ask for help (or receive help) without self-judgment, you are never really offering help without judgment. Because you have attached judgment to asking for help.”

Let me repeat.

“When you cannot ask for help without self-judgment, you are never really offering help without judgment. Because you have attached judgment to asking for help.”

This is an important concept to grasp. We are not more noble or stronger or braver for not accepting help, we are actually weaker. We are less compassionate. We are more judging.

Brene Brown goes on to say, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. When we are judging ourselves for needing help, we are labeling ourselves as wounded in some way.” And if we label ourselves wounded then we label others as well when they need help. It may be subconsciously or inadvertently, but compassion can’t be compartmentalized into them and me.

I’m glad I accepted my friend’s help that was offered to me today because accepting help directly relates to my ability to give help. My compassion for others is more authentic when I can also have compassion for myself. When I don’t judge myself for needing help, I am much less likely to judge others when they need help.

Now I better sign off and go face the busy day.




5 thoughts on “Another Side to Compassion”

  1. Jennifer Kirby

    I love this! How many times have I prayed for Heavenly Father’s help, but then turned someone away who asked if they could help me? It’s more realistic I was praying for the strength to do it all myself, when that really isn’t always the best plan.

  2. I really needed this. It is something I never really thought about before, but now makes so much sense. Thanks!

  3. How often you knock it out of the park! Hope your event went smoothly…and that you got a lot of rest afterwards.

  4. Vikki Kreutzian

    Have just learned first hand to be a grateful receiver without excuse. It is so true on both counts in giving and then receiving. We are the Masters hands – Thank you!

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