I have been thinking lately about grace, love, and truth. I hear myself saying a lot, give yourself grace or give some grace. There are 2 quotes that have stuck to me. First, I was listening to a podcast with Emmanuel Acho last year. And he said we should always speak truth with love and grace. The other is a quote by Catherine Segars, “Love without truth is a lie, but truth without love is a weapon.” I don’t know if love without truth is a lie but truth without love can definitely harm.
This idea about speaking truth with love and grace rings in my brain often both for myself and with other people. I also wonder is this compassion and/or self-compassion. It has occurred to me that speaking truth with love and grace, whether to yourself or someone else is compassion and/or self-compassion.
What is compassion? I may define it differently than others. Compassion, I do not believe is the same as empathy or sympathy. I will start with what I don’t think compassion is. Empathy is being with someone in their pain. Sympathy is pity or feeling sorry for someone and keeping yourself separate.
Compassion is being with another person and walking with them without judgment. It is recognizing that we may not completely be able to understand someone else’s experiences. But we can hold space for them. It is being present with someone. It is seeing who they are and believing their story (their truth) and making a connection to another human being.
This Feels like Self-Compassion Too
Now self-compassion has been defined far greater than compassion. The three components of self-compassion according to Kristen Neff are mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness. I have tried to live my life with compassion towards others and have incorporated self-compassion into my daily life. Maybe that is why this idea of speaking truth with love and grace feels in alignment with my values. Let’s break down the 3 components.
It feels like truth is mindfulness. Let me explain this. If mindfulness in compassion practices is being present with what is actually going on. Whether it is in our life or how we are feeling, then without this mindfulness, we may not be seeing what is actually there. When we are mindful, we are observing without judgement without denying or suppressing what we are feeling.
It is our awareness of our emotions without over-identifying with them. It is certainly our truth at that moment. But without being able to have some separation from those feelings we can move to a place of fear. When we suppress what we feel, over-identify or move to a place of fear, then I believe our truth will be distorted.
This is recognizing our shared humanity. It is understanding that all humans suffer and whatever happens to us has probably happened to someone else, so we aren’t alone. “The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect.”1 Common humanity which is I’m not the only one going through this, this happens to others and life sucks for everyone at some time. This is where I would put grace. We offer grace to each other because we are human beings and that is what connects us to each other.
Kindness Versus Judgement
This is where love fits in. Love and kindness towards ourselves and others. “Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.”2 We can also give love and kindness to other people too. Too often we judge ourselves and others and we can only judge when love and kindness are absent. Judgement is about shame not accountability.
Of course, truth can be very subjective. So, we need to make sure we are compassionate when we speak our truth, so we do it with love and grace. It feels like people have been speaking their truth a lot lately. But there has not been much love and grace that has come with it. Whether it is a distorted truth or a harsh truth with no love and grace with it, that truth can definitely be weaponized. I’m still not sure if love without truth is a lie but truth is probably needed but I need to think on that some more. It is a reminder when we do speak our truth, we should be mindful, kind, and compassionate. When we do this, we will be connected to each other, not separating ourselves from others.
I think speaking truth with love and grace is about compassion. And when we are in compassion, we will be able to speak truth with love and grace because it dictates that from us. Maybe if we start with self-compassion, it will give us clarity, connectedness and kindness. Which will help us better recognize our truth. It is the place where we can accept ourselves with all our imperfections and we can accept others with all their imperfections. More kindness, love, and compassion will enhance clarity and connectedness to our shared humanity. Then maybe we could all speak our truth with love and grace and be able to listen to each other with greater understanding.
1, 2 Kristen Neff website https://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/
Photo by Juri Gianfrancesco on Unsplash.
Blog, “Empathy to Compassion”, https://illuminationcounselingservice.com/2022/04/02/empathy-to-compassion/
Original Post February 16, 2022 on Karen Gentilman’s website Illumination Counseling Service.
Karen Gentilman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) practicing in the State of Idaho, working for 30 years with many different medical conditions both acute and chronic conditions, the last 20 years in neurological rehabilitation including brain injury, strokes and spinal cord injuries. She takes a trauma-informed, integrated and holistic approach with utilizing multiple modalities which is individually based while striving to provide compassionate therapeutic environment. Call (208) 266-4642 or email KarenGentilman@IlluminationCounselingService.com to set up a FREE 15-minute consultation. Visit Karen Gentilman’s profile page.