Need a Compassion Tuneup?

These times have been trying, and we certainly don’t see compassion being modeled from some of our political leaders, so once again it is up to us to be the modelers.  As a nurse, I believe we have a compassion gene or we wouldn’t be in our nursing roles. But there are times when we just don’t have anything left to give.  If this sounds like you, then read on.

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Need a Compassion Tuneup?

Accused of Not Having Any Compassion?

My husband always accuses me of not having any compassion, especially toward him when he gets sick!  I’m not sure where that comes from but in my early nursing career in the US Navy I was required to get any patients who could stand up to get out of bed, make their beds and stand at attention every Friday morning when the hospital wards were inspected to see which one would be awarded the E flag for excellence that week.  So I learned that you can’t slough off even when you are a patient.  Talk about squelching my compassion gene!

Another factor that came into play was managing a large number of patients and not being able to give them the personal attention I wanted to give, and they needed to have.  Never being able to just sit next to a patient and hear their story and listen for clues that might give insights on how better to care for them.  It was a setup for the appearance of being a nurse who lacks compassion. 

I consequently became disillusioned with my clinical nursing role and decided to pursue the role of school nurse and health educator.  That experience of working with “well” students and staff and educating them on how to stay well, started awakening my compassion gene once more.

I finally had time to go deeper with finding out their needs and locating resources to meet those needs.  And this propelled me into the world of becoming a Wellness Coach.  Talk about really awakening my compassion – this was what I had been looking for all along.  A chance to sit and listen, to allow them to express their inner wisdom and guiding them as they crafted their next moves toward creating a healthier and more meaningful lifestyle.

How to Rejuvenate Your Compassion

Which brings me back to you who might want to rejuvenate your compassion gene but might not know the best way to proceed.  I personally use a strategy called the Loving-Kindness Meditation that has several benefits you might appreciate.

Increases compassion

A recent review of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) concludes that Loving-Kindness Meditation may be the most effective practice for increasing compassion (Boellinghaus, Jones & Hutton, 2012).

Increases empathy

Klimecki, Leiberg, Lamm, and Singer (2013) found that Loving-Kindness Meditation training increased participants’ empathic responses to the distress of others, but also increased positive affective experiences, even in response to witnessing others in distress.

Decreases your bias towards others

A recent study (Kang, Gray & Dovido, 2014) found that compared to a closely matched active control condition, six weeks of Loving-Kindness Meditation training decreased implicit bias against minorities.

But wait -  there are even more benefits.

Research shows that Loving-Kindness Meditation has tremendous benefits from greater well-being to providing relief from illness and improving emotional intelligence.

  • Increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotions
  • Decreases migraines.
  • Decreases chronic pain
  • Decreases PTSD
  • Activates empathy and emotional processing in the brain
  • Increases gray matter volume 
  • Slows biological aging
  • Makes you a more helpful person
  • Increases social connection
  • Self-Love
  • Curbs self-criticism

Since Loving-Kindness Meditation appears to be powerful “medicine” we could all use right now, I made a video of the strategy so you can practice along with it to start receiving some of those benefits. 

Did you know the music you play helps to relax your mind, takes away stress, and replaces resentment and frustration with empathy and compassion?  That's why I am sharing a musical version of Loving-Kindness Meditation from Karen Drucker to further deepen your experience. 

Have you felt depleted of compassion lately?  What strategies are you using to enhance your capacity for compassion toward others, even those you disagree with!


Science-Backed Reasons to Try Loving-Kindness Meditation

What is Loving-Kindness Meditation?

Loving-Kindness Meditation

5 Ways How Music Increases Empathy In Listeners

Inspiring Role Model for Women in their Third Act

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tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

152 Articles; 5,918 Posts

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Carol, with all the great articles you have shared with us about the importance of self-care, I cannot imagine anyone suggesting you lack compassion.  

Carol Ebert, MSN, RN

84 Articles; 207 Posts

Specializes in Wellness and Coaching for Women in their Third Act. Has 56 years experience.
3 hours ago, tnbutterfly - Mary said:

Carol, with all the great articles you have shared with us about the importance of self-care, I cannot imagine anyone suggesting you lack compassion.  

Thanks Mary.  I guess I have "tuned up" my level of compassion by sharing all these blogs which means it's working.  Just like the old saying "It works if you work it" and I do work it.

Specializes in CWON. Has 11 years experience.

I am in no way suggesting that the recommendations are not valuable as presented...but WOULD suggest that there are often external factors that need to be addressed as well that are beyond the ability of nurses suffering from burnout to correct with mindfulness.