Compassion for people who enrage you? Is it necessary?

November 25, 2019 | 17 Comments

The meditation begins at 8:31.
Audio only version is here.

Hello, excellent Open Heart Project.

You and I are meditators. Thank you!

You may think that meditation will make you calm all the time or enable you to feel kindly toward others, even complete jerks. Well, so far, in my 25 years of practice, I have not found these things to be true. Still, I, like you, am committed to the path of goodness and compassion. How is it possible to reconcile these positive intentions with people who enrage us? (Spoiler alert: you don’t have to stop feeling angry if you don’t want to.)

Before today’s meditation, I offer a few possibilities.

Let me know if you try them!

With love, Susan

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  • Posted by:  Nat

    Hi Susan,
    I recall trying to feel compassion for an especially nasty manager I worked for. I kept reminding myself that people who hurt others are hurting worse inside. I sent her kind thoughts and prayed for her…until, it became unbearable. Her harassment and bullying sent my ego into a frenzy. I finally exploded and kicked at a door while walking away from a confrontation with her. Suffice it to say, I did myself more harm that day by losing my cool and spraining my foot. I was furious. I went outside and cried for the next hour. I felt powerless and defeated. I definitely forgot to be kind to myself first and realize that her behaviour was unacceptable. Sometimes my ego plays the martyr, I guess. So, I struggle to find balance there sometimes.

    Little did I know that this would be the beginning of my journey to opening my heart. Everything started falling apart. More and more heartache came my way. I cried everyday for an entire year. It was very strange. I would cry waiting for the bus, or at the office, or at the grocery store. For awhile there, I thought I was losing my mind. So, suffice it to say, I’m a bit scared of fully opening my heart again. Glad I can follow this journey with this community though. It alleviates some of the reticence.

    With love,

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Nat, I so relate to this story–and I’m sure many others can, too. It speaks to the complex relationship between self-compassion and compassion for others–and how when you discover the former, a dam breaks. Everything becomes meaningful, which is different than “everything becomes easy.” Thank you for your courage. Please continue to be kind to yourself and if meditation ever begins to seem like too much, don’t hesitate to take a break. You can always come back. Glad we are practicing it all together. Sending love, S

  • Posted by:  André Lapierre

    Dear Susan,
    What a great explanation on compassion. One of your best and one of the best I have ever heard or read. Wish the world where listening your comments today. In a couple minutes, you did better than a 360 page book. You touched my heart deeply. Keep doing what you are doing, you are doing it so well. Our today world needs you.
    I discovered you site a couple years ago and felt in love with it, You are such a genuine and authentic person.
    I regularly meditate with you. You are one of my best sources of inspiration and I am very very thankful to you.
    Have a great day. I love you.


    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      André, thank you for these kind words. It means so much to receive a message like this. I am grateful. And I love you too!

    • Posted by:  Renee Jones

      What beautiful sentiments that I echo wholeheartedly. Following Buddhism and meditating has changed my life. I wish you a very compassionate day!

  • Posted by:  Pamela

    Exactly what I needed right now, thank you from my heart.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      You are so welcome. Sending love!

  • Posted by:  Renee

    This was a timely talk for me today. We just had a horrible death in our family that has brought out old grudges and cruel anger from family members. Thank you for reminding me to react with a feeling of compassion first, to understand their pain and respond (or not respond) with kindness and understanding. This is surely one of your best sessions and feel you are doing the world a tremendous service by spreading the word.

    With the deepest thanks. Renee

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Oh, Renee. I am so, so sorry to hear about the difficulty you find yourself in. I wish I could do anything to bring relief. Sending love and appreciation that you are able to work with your mind and heart under such difficult circumstances. Please be kind to yourself. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Alejandra

    Dear Susan
    This is so relevant for me right now.
    I am in Chile, as you may know, we are living tough times these days. I have gone through different emotions the last month (since the social crisis exploded) : anxiety, sadness, fear, rage! So much rage! And I have wondered, how can I feel connected to people who are not able to listen, who run the country, have it all but are not able to see the pain and necessities of others, the mayority…How can I feel compassion for those who instead of trying to feel someone else’s pain use the force to silece them. I feel so enrage that I don’t want to listen to them either! It is so difficult that -like you say- I shut off in to myself because I cannot bear it…and that does not help me nor others.
    …Opening to myself, to my own confusion, to my own despair and pain, I naturally open to others. That is a place to start.
    Thank you for this, Susan. Very helpful.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Alejandra, I feel for what you are going through. It is so difficult, I know. It is important (and brave) to begin with yourself. I appreciate you so much for doing so. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Catherine Marquis

    Dear Susan,
    I have heard you speak of compassion many times over the last few years (time flies!) and I love how you remind us that we should start with ourselves and learn to be brave in order to demonstrate compassion. Every time I am faced with a situation or a person that tries my nerves, I remind myself to take a deep breath and to connect with my feelings. Without a story. It remains challenging and yet a little easier each time. Thank you for your wise words always.

    With much gratitude and warmth,


    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Catherine, you are so welcome and thank YOU for being willing to practice this. It is so important. Glad we’re on the path together. <3 S

  • Posted by:  Kyle Wasserman

    Hey Susan! So good to hear one of your videos again! Thank you for doing these!

    Kyle 🙂

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Kyle, you’re so awesome!! Great to hear from you. Sending love.

  • Posted by:  Gwen Hartland

    This came at the perfect time. In the midst of some family conflict and trying to be NICE is not the way as you described. I appreciate the wisdom you shared today, it will be very helpful at this challenging time. Gratitude to you.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      So glad it was helpful! <3 S

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