Some positive thinking philosophies tell you to avoid charitable works and those who are poverty stricken. The theory is that you might get sucked into their consciousness, and lose your empowered viewpoint. That you could become sympathetic and then part of the problem. Or that you wouldn’t hold the “needy” as powerful enough to heal their wounds or overcome their problems. Somehow, leaving them to their own devices is supposed to empower them to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”
However, I’ve observed people who follow this idea tend to become judgmental and contemptuous about those who are less fortunate. This doesn’t fulfill the spirit of the ideal. Instead, it creates a callousness that negatively impacts their character and undermines the positive attitude that they mean to cultivate. It tends to breed a sense of arrogance and superiority.
Insulating yourself from others’ suffering may mean that you don’t get the opportunity to develop compassion. In a recent study, those who are in the lower socio-economic classes are more responsive to suffering and more compassionate than those in the more affluent class.
The UC Berkeley researchers conjecture that the upper classes aren’t “coldhearted,” it’s just that they haven’t had to deal with the challenges the lower classes have. Therefore, their theory is that the upper classes don’t recognize the distress expressed by people.
Becoming aware of when others are experiencing distress, suffering and anxiety is the first step to becoming more compassionate. With compassion, you can be aware of others’ emotions without getting drawn into the problem. You can then choose a response that can best support and empower the sufferer.
Emotional Intelligence, which has been called more important than I.Q., is the ability to perceive and label yours and others’ emotions. It’s said that this skill is necessary for you to fulfill your full potential in your personal and professional life. So it’s even good for your success in life to be more aware of how other people are feeling.
Compassion opens the heart, reduces stress, promotes success and encourages happiness. Being concerned about the well being of others improves your own.
Inspired by the article: Lower Classes Quicker to Show Compassion in the Face of Suffering
~ Linda-Ann Stewart