The Shield of Contempt vs The Heart of Compassion

Last week I attended a professional women’s networking meeting that left me feeling more openhearted than I’d ever imagined possible.

I observed myself navigating the schmooze-fest with a hefty dollop of smugness about being a free agent, working for myself, bearing my scars like trophies from previous years of being trampled upon by organizational politics and arrogant bosses. As the morning unfolded, speaker after speaker gave testimony to her own wounds and sorrows, and I realized it was time to lay down the Shield of Contempt.

The Shield of Contempt is the tool for deflecting any hurt, disappointment or grief. It’s hard to even admit these things publicly, though I know that every person has some strategy they use for their own protection that ultimately doesn’t serve the soul. Some people’s shields are sarcasm, humor, caustic anger or people-pleasing.

I have learned about an alternative strategy from one of my mentors: cultivating compassion for self and others. We are all doing the best we can to survive our brokenheartedness. What about extending patience, loving kindness and empathy to one another rather then inflicting judgment or caustic criticism?

Which will you choose: the shield of contempt or the heart of compassion?