Compassion is not a soft concept.
Yes, it means kindness. And yes, it means gentleness, and patience too. But real compassion also means strength and resolve. It means character and determination. It means a willingness to go beyond expectations, to show love when there are no incentives and rewards.
Courage is a big part of the equation. It takes significant bravery to step past ourselves and into someone else’s problems And, funny enough, it sometimes takes even more bravery to show compassion to ourselves.
And it is this courage that ultimately allows us to live as compassionate beings. For Pema Chodron, Buddhist nun and spiritual teacher, the first step always begins within:
“The only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes. ” ― Pema Chödrön
Only when we make peace with the self can we begin to make peace in the world.