communicate with compassion practice communicate with compassion practice communicate with compassion practice

Hear and Heal

When someone insults, disrespects, or shames you, it’s hard not to take it personally. You’re essentially being told that whatever you’re saying or doing isn’t “good”. It doesn’t matter if they’re right or wrong; it’s still a negative portrayal of who you are as a person. No one wants to be seen in that light, which is why you can take the comment personally. It’s easy then to react and respond with the same level of negativity. But when you realize that the negativity aimed at you is actually intended for them, you can communicate with compassion instead.

 The following practice asks you to acknowledge and act on the assumption that when others lash out at you, it’s mainly due to their own insecurities. So there’s no need to take their opinion to heart. Instead, you can practice replying with impartiality so that any resentment or hostility won’t develop, thus your connections with others can heal and grow.


Once you’ve accepted the mindset of not taking things personally, the next step is to put the practice into action. The next time you encounter a negative comment that’s directed towards who you are, what you look like, or the way you’re doing something, take a moment before responding. If your initial reaction is usually to yell or give an equally hurtful comeback, don’t. Or if you tend to retreat inward and replay what they said over and over, don’t. Instead try to answer the following questions:

“Does this person really know me?” 

“Are they purposefully trying to hurt me?”

“What’s their end goal? Or what reaction are they trying to get out of me?”

Anyone who does not truly know you doesn’t have the right to give their negative assumptions or judgments, especially if their goal is to hurt or degrade you. Many times they just want someone else to feel the pain and hurt that’s inside of them. So when you answer these questions you’ll most likely see that they don’t really know you, aren’t being malicious, and are just releasing their own anger.

After you’ve heard them out and considered their true motive, the next step is to respond with impartiality or positivity. The goal is to eventually find the positive in all interactions, but change takes time. So the best way is to practice using one of the following methods. 


One option is to pretend that the person who’s mad, criticizing, or yelling at you is saying those things to themselves. Imagine that you’re a mirror, so when they project their pain and anger it reflects who they are -not who you are. Then whatever they say can’t seep in or affect you. Their negativity only touches the surface and bounces back to them.

Another option is to repeat in your head, “I love you and I forgive you” while sending positive, loving energy towards them. This takes inspiration from the Hawaiian forgiveness practice of Ho’oponopono. It may seem difficult to respond to negativity with an abundance of positivity, but when you respond with compassion it breaks the cycle of suffering. Then not only are you able to release your pain, but you’re setting an example for others to do the same.

Both of these options occur internally, so once you’ve decided how to respond emotionally you can reply. Hopefully through the previous steps you’ve let go of any anger towards them, so you’re now able to answer with an impartial or positive response. Depending on the situation you can simply ignore and look past the comment while continuing on with your conversation. You could also acknowledge their statement and say you understand that they have their own opinion. Or you can also choose to share your feelings and let them know how they negatively affected you. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s done with compassion.

Person holding a sign that says "Share love not hate"

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