Do You Know Your Near Enemies of Compassion?

Compassion recognizes the suffering of another as a reflection of our own pain. It is empathetic, a mutual connection with the pain and sorrow of life.

Jack Kornfield

It turns out, we might not always be acting out of compassion when we think we are.

Learn what those other states can be.

I had to pause the podcast on my bus ride and make a note to myself to create this blog post for you.

Why? Because this topic is too good not to learn about and then inspect how we show up in the world. That is the concept of near enemies. More specifically, near enemies of compassion.

The far enemies of compassion we might be familiar with: emotional reactivity, demonisation, hostility. They are in opposition to mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness.

Chris Germer, clinical psychologist and author, bases a lot of his work on Buddhist psychology and identifies the near enemies of compassion for us.

In Buddhism, a near enemy means something that appears to be one thing (one state) but is actually something quite different.

You can learn about these states in Chris’ conversation with Brené Brown on her Unlocking Us podcast or read about them in his own article.

But why is it important to know what those enemies are?

Because a big part of our self-knowledge is to understand what’s behind our motivation and the actions that stem from it.

There is a lot of value in knowing ourselves and making healthier, more ethical, and more efficient choices.

Are we acting out of compassion or not taking action out of complacency?
Are we acting out of compassion or out of sameness, denying others their experiences?
Are we acting out of compassion or out of pity, not seeing others as worthy as we are?

These ARE the near enemies of compassion that Chris Germer explains so well in his work. I hope you take the time to listen/read it as it can become a powerful framework for knowing what we are about.



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