How To Cultivate Compassion

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By Lorraine Iverson

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries; without them humanity cannot survive.”  Dalai Lama

I am a passionate person. Probably too passionate, if there is such a thing.

When I love something, I’m all over it. Be it a song, a painting, a dessert, or a man. I just can’t get enough.

But when I’m against something, there is that same level of passion and it can be very negative energy. Negativity, judgement, fear, and anger are all things I’ve been working to eliminate from my life. 

A recent talk at church by our Reverend Kevin was about finding compassion in your anger or outrage. It sounds really good and noble and I try to be in that space but... it’s difficult. Part of my innate passion has always manifested as a warrior-woman, always fighting for the underdog or the oppressed.

My causes are always righteous which gives me justification for the battle. But being in warrior mode is very taxing. Not a lot of time for peaceful reflection when you’re going off to fight, yet again. 

So, the Reverend was definitely talking to me on that Sunday morning. How do I, defender of all who are suffering, build a place of compassion within myself. How do I go from warrior stance to smiling Buddha?

By remembering that we are all connected. We are all human beings.  Brothers and sisters in different shades and shapes. Just the realization of that can cool your jets a bit. If you take away the different costumes and the boxes into which we delegate people, they become less scary.

But what about the killers, child molesters, rapists - can we see them as our brothers and sisters? Maybe not yet. But if we begin to build some compassion within ourselves, perhaps we can eventually stop hating those that we see as wrong. Our state of hate certainly isn’t serving us and it’s not hurting them at all. 

The thing with carrying fear, hate and anger within us is that it creates a breeding ground for violence. This is what some fear-mongering politicians are currently playing on - our fears about our security and certain groups of people that they want us to think are threatening it. If there are enough of us scared and angry we will react with violence aka war or banishment. 

So if we made even small in-roads into that ‘feeling of one’ perhaps we could dial down the fear. Sure there are bad guys doing bad things. But we don’t have to react out of fear with violence. A bit of compassion for ourselves will keep us from those old reactions. If we carry compassion for everyone we are also not inclined to blame an entire group of people for the despicable actions of a few. 

I believe there is yin and yang in everything and everyone. I’m a deeply spiritual person that has the potty mouth of a stevedore. My grandchild is an angel and satan’s spawn in a manner of seconds. My husband is the greatest man alive and the biggest A-hole that ever lived. I accept these truths and I’m O.K. and full of love for all the above - especially myself.

I’m generating compassion in my own little universe. Now if I can expand this outward, imagine the peace I can generate around me. We all can. Then, when something evil happens, we won’t collect it as evidence for a valiant, often violent cause. We will be able to see with a sadness for our fellow man, forgive and move on to do more good in the world. And that, is how we can all begin cultivating compassion.

Have you learned compassion or are you struggling too? Do tell! You can comment below or connect with the Honey Good community on FacebookTwitter and even Instagram. Let's talk!


Rain Iverson has traveled many paths and is always recreating herself. As a business woman, she co-founded and managed a technology public relations firm and one of the first computer conferencing software companies. She has served on non-profit boards, retired at 50 to become an artist and then 10 years later came out of retirement to become CFO of her son's company. Rain is the matriarch of a large, blended family with a great husband, children, grandchildren and lots of extended/blended family members.