What Real Compassion Looks Like: A Children’s Story For Grownups

Posted on December 27, 2023 by Nate Regier / 0 comments
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My youngest daughter, Asha, is studying to be a teacher. Recently her boyfriend’s mother gave her two boxes of classic children’s books she had collected. Over Christmas break we went through the box as a family, looking at all the books, remembering some of our favorites from when our girls were young. What an incredible gift for a new teacher! One of the books we came across has special meaning for my middle daughter, Emily, who just graduated with her Master’s in clinical psychology. Her clinical program director read this book to all her new students on the first day of class, and again on the last day of their program.

Emily read this book to our family and I was immediately struck by the powerful message of what real compassion looks like. I invite you to watch this and see what you experience.

For Reflection And Discussion

If you want to use this video for a facilitated discussion about compassion, here are some questions for conversation.

  1. Describe a time when you invested yourself in a project and felt proud of what you created.
  2. “But then, out of nowhere…things came crashing down.” Can you relate?
  3. Have you ever experienced someone trying to help you but it wasn’t what you wanted or needed? Describe your experience.
  4. All the animals were trying to help. Why weren’t their efforts helpful to Taylor?
  5. Have you ever tried to help someone and they didn’t appreciate it or want it? Describe your experience.
  6. Each animal tried to help in their own way. Which way of helping are you most likely to offer when others are struggling?
  7. What did the rabbit do differently? Why was it so helpful for Taylor?
  8. How did Taylor’s attitude and behavior change after Rabbit listened?
  9. Have you ever experienced someone listening to you like Rabbit did for Taylor?
  10. What insights did you gain that you could apply in your team or organization?

What Is Compassion?

Compassion is more than being stirred by another’s suffering and taking action to alleviate that suffering. At Next Element, we define compassion as the practice of demonstrating that people are valuable, capable, and responsible in every interaction. Only Rabbit honored this definition.

Compassion is the practice of demonstrating that people are valuable, capable, and responsible in every interaction.

When we try to help people according to what we think they need, we see ourselves as more valuable and capable than them. When we abandon people because they don’t accept our version of support, we see them as less valuable than us. When we step in and take over other people’s emotional struggles, we see them as less capable and less responsible. That’s dis-empowering. That’s not compassionate.

In most cases, compassion is not about removing the struggle. It’s about finding transformation in the struggle.

  • Rabbit treated Taylor as valuable by validating Taylor’s experience instead of trying to impose Rabbit’s perspective.
  • Rabbit treated Taylor as capable by allowing Taylor to share, process, and own the experience.
  • Rabbit treated Taylor as responsible by not taking over problem-solving. Because ultimately, Taylor is the only one who can take ownership of how to respond to what happened.

Because Rabbit saw Taylor as valuable, capable, and responsible, Taylor found transformation, not alone, but within the relationship.

This clip from Pixar’s movie, Inside Out, is another great example of getting alongside someone in their pain rather than trying to fix it. Thanks to my friend, Jeff Jacobs ,at Adobe for suggesting this.

What could be different in your life if you practiced this kind of compassion?

Next Element helps organizations and teams transform their culture by learning and practicing this kind of compassion in every aspect of their business.

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