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  • Writer's pictureEmmily Weldon

Express Compassion Without Being Taken Advantage of

Compassion can be a difficult topic to discuss because it can feel like we are being ‘too easy’ on ourselves or others. Compassion is the ability to connect and orient toward suffering, either your own or others. You need to be able to be aware of the suffering, emotionally feel that suffering, wish for relief from that suffering, and ability or readiness to move toward action to relieve that suffering.

Many people worry about being compassionate because it may not push others or themselves to be “better” or to grow. There is no evidence to support that idea. In fact, there is data that has been collected showing that harsh criticism can actually move you or others away from the goal rather than closer. For example, if you only hear negative feedback, how motivated will you be to keep pushing yourself? Probably not very motivated. It leads to shame and if you feel like you won’t succeed… then why try? That is what our brain is often trying to figure out. It works the same with others and our relationships with them as well. The more compassion and understanding that we can show, the more motivated they will be to stick with a goal or even maintain a relationship with you.

When showing compassion for others take some time to reflect putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. We are all doing the best we can in this crazy world. Most of us inherently have the same goals: to live a happy, healthy life where we are connected to others. We may have different ways of going about that but remember the end result is usually the same. If we can understand that we can use our own experiences to express compassion toward them.

Practice shifting your perspective away from yourself. Don’t just think about how something affects you, but also how it might be impacting others around you. In therapy, I talk with clients about the 51% rule. You have to think about yourself 51% of the time. You have to consider your own needs first because no one else will (nor should they). However, that other 49% is reserved for others. Use that space to really try to find the balance of your own needs to avoid being taken advantage of while also considering other people experiences within that.

Practicing kindness doesn’t have to mean people-pleasing. Kindness doesn’t have to mean selling out your own truth for someone else. True, genuine kindness comes from consideration of others. When you can take time to truly understand what someone is saying without interpreting and judging you can understand them. You can empathize with them… even if you don’t agree with all of their decisions or their response. You can have compassion, empathy, and understanding without having to justify or validate their behaviors and reactions to the situations.

Many people become focused on what is “right” or “wrong,” “good” or “bad.” What if we let go of that all or nothing thinking and needing to label everything. Things are often more complicated than they appear on the surface. Get curious about others. What is under the action? What is motivating it? What might be going on for them to cause this reaction?

We live in a world where it often feels like there is no pleasing anyone and nothing is ever good enough. You will always be short of perfect because perfection is an impossible standard. Remember that and apply it to others as well. Consider that they are doing their best and say encouraging words.

The journey to showing compassion for others and for building your own self-compassion can be a difficult one. It can be helpful to have support along the way. Therapy can be a great tool to help challenge your perspective and work through your relationship with yourself and with others.

To find a therapist best suited for you, using a directory such as mental health match, psychology today, or therapyden. To connect with me, you can book your free 30 minute consultation on our website or feel free to email us at

*Although I am a therapist by profession, I am not YOUR therapist. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not replace therapy and does not establish any kind of therapist-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. To see more information about our disclamer(s):

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