51 How I Shifted from Rescuing to Compassion

February 1, 2024
Barbara Cook
Couple sitting under 2 trees by a lake. Rescuing. Compassion. Barbara Cook blog.
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Dear blog followers, A little while ago, I was musing about my journey from Rescuing to Compassion, and some of the many nuanced words in between. 

Many people are doing so much good in the world, being of service to those less fortunate or in trouble. Like them, I’ve always been drawn to ‘helping’ others. However, in my case, I’ve come to realise that this aspect of me has been ‘muddied’ by an emotional charge that’s been largely unconscious. This helper’ part has actually been trying to save or rescue others from their pain, as a convenient distraction for the unhealed younger part within that didn’t receive the comfort she needed when in pain.

I’m in an ongoing process of doing my best to let go of the helping and worrying energy. Rather than disappearing, the helping then somehow becomes fine-tuned and purified into a kind of compassionate holding.

To kick off this series, here’s a poem I wrote over thirty years ago. It’s not meant to advise a turning away from others into selfish self-absorption. It seems that Nature was beginning to teach me something about a simple kind of Being.

The Rescuing

“What about the others?
We’ll help the kids who struggle on the streets.”

“I’ll do it right this time for my children –
Try hard to work it out –
The right answer –
So they won’t have my problems.”

Noble and kind-hearted, yes,
But always it’s like rocking little dolly when scared and hurt the little girl.
‘There, there, I love you, little one,
I’ll keep you safe from harm.’

The tree of Evergreen.

It grows straight up, without impeding,
‘breathes its fragrance into space.’ *
Does it stop to stoop?
Look down and see its seedling struggling through the earth?
Bend down and save it from the wind and cold and flood?

What a stunted shell and shadow of a tree that would be.
She’d not have time to breathe a fragrance with this worry,
And this looking after.

‘And what about the others? Other species?’ does she think?
Does she feel remorse for her poor friend Miss Deciduous?
Does she stop her own growth while she would shield
The leaves from falling down to rot into the earth
And be decay and food for life?

Does she stop the pain of loss for her –
Who would be bare . . . then blossom?

What a stunted shell and shadow of a tree would that be,
With all those thoughts and adaptations to be made.

Instead she just is.

Grows towards the sun.
Every leaf and fibrous cell is open to the warmth and rain and air.

She just is.

And we can share.

*Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”

I’ve accidentally put these posts in the wrong order. You may have already read Part 2 here — “Let’s Re-brand the Sympathy Card” I always enjoy reading any comments or feedback if any of these themes are resonating with you.

Warm regards,

Barb x

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