Tough compassion — here’s what it is and why you need to practice it - Deepstash
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Tough Compassion

Tough Compassion

The idea of tough compassion has been gaining traction because the pastel-colored version of it is proving to be unhelpful at the moment.

The idea has been described by psychologist Dacher Keltner who said that it is in line with the Buddhist tradition of stepping in to guide the person onto a different form of behavior.

The goal of true compassion is to find ways to promote the least suffering for everyone, and so, there must be the willingness to bear but also the capability to inflict some discomfort in the moment to promote longer-term well-being.


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Dalai Lama on Tough Compassion

Dalai Lama believes that tough compassion involves speaking up, without rancor but with conviction, if the goal is to promote less suffering for all.

In committing to tough compassion you register yourself into a certain kind of risk-benefit calculation where you accept the discomfort in the hopes that the other person will consider a different way of engaging.


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Tough Compassion in Practice

Tough Compassion in Practice

  1. Know if the other person is in a position where they are willing and able to engage in this kind of conversation with you.
  2. Make yourself accessible as a human being who can be vulnerable, who can be hurt, and who can appreciate the other person even during a disagreement.
  3. Learn to truly listen to the other person, understand and get curious. It creates space for the other to think a little bit differently.
  4. Practice staying internally grounded while emotional storms rage.
  5. If things go south and insults are slung, learn to let go and exit from the dialogue.


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Tough Compassion and The Storytelling Approach

Studies show that story-based approaches can create significant change in people's world views.

With storytelling, you can take a firm stance and describe to the other person that the results of their actions have a huge impact to other people without launching a direct attack onto them.

Even when it seems easier to just let the other person be wrong, being able to what may seem to be fraternizing with the enemy can actually be a potent way to guide someone towards a less toxic path.


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