All Articles Tagged "compassion"
DMX is the reason why sometimes you really don’t want to know all the sordid details behind the making of the art.
Seriously, anybody with the first two DMX albums already knew the man had problems. The prayers? The good angel/devil voice fluctuation he used to do? His obsession with pit bulls? I mean, we kind of always knew there was something ’bout X that was hurting. But he was also a good looking, bald-headed black man who could rap and liked to bark aggressively on tracks. Not to mention the bedroom scene from Belly put many women on his side. In the past, most of us took DMX as unbalanced, but in a fun way – sort of like John Malkovich. But now that the covers have been pulled back on Earl “DMX” Simmons the person – thanks to his various appearances on reality television – it kind of puts a damper on DMX the artist. He is no longer the black and hip-hop version of the misunderstood eccentric we once thought. Instead, he is just like a Gary Busey.
But I still have love for DMX and I definitely extend my deepest well-wishes to Earl Simmons.
Based off of Saturday’s episode of Iyanla: Fix My Life with Iyanla Vanzant, DMX certainly is embittered by his past and fearful of facing his own mistakes. But so was his son Xavier, who had been estranged from Simmons for a number of years. Despite father and son claiming that they desired a relationship with each other, both claimed anger and pointed fingers at each other for why their relationship didn’t work. Simmons said it was because his son was distant. Xavier, however, charged that his dad was a controlling womanizer, who made him feel “valueless and like nothing.” His intention on the show was to confront his father; to make him own up to what he did. But as Vanzant asked, and then what?
Vanzant challenged Xavier to search for the root of his father’s faults; to understand that Simmons is likely of “diseased mind and a wounded heart.” His breakthrough came when he realized that his own anger towards his father and about his upbringing was sending him down the same destructive road as Simmons. And his father’s behavior might not be intended, but rather a reflection of how Simmons too learned to love from past pain. Instead of meeting and confronting his father in anger, Vanzant advised Xavier to instead go into this meeting with an open and compassionate heart.
I have my questions about the platform in which Iyanla Vanzant chooses to dish her brand of self-help, mainly about how she tries to squeeze months of intensive counseling into only a few hours of taping, which makes for good self-help television, but maybe not for good therapy for those direct recipients of her counseling. And I definitely cringed at the sheer exploitative nature of the whole #SupportDMX hashtag, which she promoted periodically throughout the show. While a great use for fan engagement (i.e., marketing), what a horrible way to really show your support of DMX. I mean, sure there was some really nice well wishes and thoughtful advice given, but there was also a lot of gossip and jokes made at both DMX and his family’s expense. But I have to give her credit for the delivery of a very powerful message about what it truly means to show compassion.
Compassion isn’t just about having sympathy for someone’s circumstances, but rather an acknowledgment that the pain and suffering from such circumstances is not exclusive and is likely a shared experience by many. Therefore, when we extend leniency or even forgiveness towards others forgiveness, we are actually offering compassion to the vulnerable part of ourselves, which has also been wounded and scarred by similar pain. Right before I watched Saturday’s episode, I was throwing things around in my place. As usual, I waited until the last moment to file my taxes and as usual, one of the important documents I needed to file was missing. I thought I had it with all my other tax documents but it was not there. I had no idea where it was, so there I was, running around, frantic, tossing around papers and screaming about how this always happens. “Things just always get up and disappear,” I’m yelling to no one in particular. I’m so mad, I want to take this anger out on someone. The IRS for requiring that I file taxes; the document-maker for not making the paper harder to misplace; basically anybody or thing else but me. That’s the hard part about accepting responsibility. I had to admit to myself my place in not only mismanaging my important documents, but also waiting until the last minute to file. And I have to admit that all the similar judgments I have placed on others for similar infractions now land squarely at my own feet. Not only will I have to admit that I am wrong, but I might also have to admit that I am a hypocrite too. The weight of imperfections and faults can be a very heavy mental and emotional cross to bear at times, and it is very tempting to want to hide from the responsibility. But then you have to also have mercy on yourself. To understand that you are going to make mistakes and that’s okay. And sometimes, those mistakes will have consequences that you will have to deal with and that’s okay too. The best thing to do is not to harp on what was done (can’t change it anyway), but rather what needs to be done next. So I stopped throwing angry fits and tearing up my place; owned up to my mistake, forgave myself, and got some filing folders for next tax season.
It is a lonely place when you are embittered by mistakes in your life. And as the show progressed you could definitely see that father and son were becoming aware of that very fact. For Xavier, being compassionate enabled him to meet with his father, not only to confront him about his feelings, but also to listen to what his father had to say in response. Being open to possible criticism enabled Xavier to then go and have those same objective conversations with people in his life, for whom he might have been unconsciously treating as he had been treated by his father. In a very emotional part of the show, Simmons apologized to Xavier, saying, “I tried. Really sincerely tried. I’m sorry. I tried.” It was a really emotional scene, which I imagine took lots of courage for him to commit to. It was also the start of some healing on the part of Simmons. Unfortunately, he has yet to be able to garner the necessary compassion needed to forgive himself for his mistakes. And until he does, he will continue to make excuse after excuse and wallow in the pain of it all.
A few years ago a male friend of mine and I met for lunch. We were laughing, eating, and having a good time as friends, as usual when we met up. After a while we started a friendly debate/conversation about men, women, and relationships. We joked about the different experiences we had and laughed about the mistakes we made along the way. Before this conversation ended, we brought up the subject of men and women as friends, and how both men and women have the tendency to misinterpret friendly gestures.
He told me that he was often discouraged to help a woman with certain things for fear of her taking the gentleman gesture the wrong way. “Just because a man opens the door for you or helps you with your grocery bags does not mean that he wants to sleep with you or engage in a relationship with you,” he said. “It simply means he was being nice.”
He also stated that a lot of women confuse compassion for passion. This was a powerful and thought-provoking statement that led me to ask myself if I was guilty of this. It also led me to examine the meaning of both compassion and passion as they relate to relationships. Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for someone who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by the desire to alleviate such suffering. It is also the act of showing kindness with assistance. As it relates to relationships, passion is defined as a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling that can lead someone to fulfill desires led by the flesh; an instance or experience of love or strong sexual desire. While the meanings of the words have some similarities, they are very different.
Compassion leads someone to help someone else. It is the desire for someone else’s well-being and putting that desire into action. Passion is lust or the strong desire for someone for physical engagement for individual satisfaction. It is the urge to satisfy one’s own needs rather than helping someone else. However, the action of showing compassion can stir up feelings of passion. When someone renders a nice gesture or assists someone in a time of desperation, it can lead the mind to believe that this person has a romantic interest in them. These feelings can derive in women during the transition of relationships, a financial transition period, or a transition in self-esteem.
When self-esteem is low from a heart-wrenching relationship or a good relationship that ended abruptly, and someone new comes along and shows compassion to assist with the transition in a variety of ways, a vulnerable state of mind and fragility may come into play. This confusion and vulnerability can come into play because of inadequate self-confidence, in who we are as women, or the lack of knowledge in whom we are.
As women, it is important to know and understand the difference between compassion and passion when engaging in any type of relationship or encounter with men because we don’t want to mislead ourselves. On the other hand, the human ego can also be a factor in confusing compassion for passion. I remember a time when I was leaving the grocery store, and I saw a man looking at me. I wasn’t sure as to why he was watching me, so I started to think that he was interested in me.
I remember I started thinking to myself that I didn’t have time to stop and talk, nor did I feel like being bothered. As I headed to my car the man approached me, and I immediately put my guard up to reject any romantic advance he was planning. He says to me, “Can I help you with your bags?” I respond with yes. After he helps me place my bags in my car he says to me, “Have a good night!” and walks away. I thought to myself, What?!? To my egotistical surprise, the man wanted to help me place my bags in my car because he saw that I was alone and it was late at night. I quickly confused a nice gesture for a romantic advance. Inside I was so embarrassed, but that experience was the direct result of my ego taking over my common sense and confusing compassion for passion. As I stated previously, it is important to know the difference between compassion and passion especially when dealing with men because we don’t want to mislead ourselves into believing that a man wants a relationship with us, have sex, so on and so on. We must learn to take nice gestures for what they are and leave them at that because the bottom line is, if a man wants to be with you he’ll let you know. Let’s learn how to appreciate the gentlemen things men do and encourage them to do more!
How many times have you confused compassion for passion? What were the results?
Liz Lampkin is the author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
More on Madame Noire!
- Where Are They Now? 11 Of The Most Rachet, Lovable and Controversial Black Folks From “The Real World”
- Ask a Very Smart Brotha: He Got Someone Else Pregnant But Says He Wants to Be With Me
- So,You Acted a Fool, Now What? 6 Ways to Move Past Your Spazz Out
- I’m Your Woman, Not Your Nanny: The Difference Between Supporting and Enabling a Lazy Man
- Why I Prefer the Company of Men Over Women
- Don’t Mess With Her! 6 of Aretha Franklin’s Most Diva-ish Moments
- They Said What Now!? 7 Songs That Don’t Mean What You Think They Do…
I’m tired. No. I’m exhausted, really. Between the tears and late night phone calls, I have somehow absorbed my friend’s issue as my own and it’s now taking a toll on me. I feel her anxiety as if it were mine; the uncertainty of what’s to come; and the overbearing sensation that this dark period will never be over. I dread when the phone rings and I realize it’s her. I choose not to pick it up just so I won’t have to delve back into that abyss with her. And yet, I also want to pick up the phone and just say straightforwardly, “Girl, listen, I’m tired!”
I think at some point in our lives, we have all experienced this issue with our close girlfriends. We try hard to live by that code of sisterhood: honesty, loyalty, and unwavering support. But in that unwavering support, we can take on too much and find ourselves overwhelmed and burdened with our friends’ issues. How do we maintain that fine balance? How do we construct boundaries that allow us to maintain healthy relationships with our girlfriends as we maintain ones with ourselves? I believe that there are three major steps that a good girlfriend must take and maintain to achieve these goals.
The first thing you should always keep in mind is that, your friend’s issue is not your issue. I know, I know. You’ve been besties since kindergarten. In the third grade, you guys became blood sisters. She was your roommate in college for all four years. I understand how our ties can make us feel more bonded and permanently entwined to one another, but at the end of the day she is still her own individual person. Know that there is only so much you can do to help her out when life comes calling with those painful knocks. You can be her shoulder to cry on, be her rock to lean on (for a while), but at the end of the day, this is her experience and her lesson that she needs to learn – not yours.
You should also remember that sometimes it’s best to not offer advice and just listen, while other times it’s very necessary (even if you’re pretending). One of the first things we do when a friend is in crisis is offer advice – whether they have asked for it or not. And there is nothing wrong with offering advice, but it can lead you down a slippery slope. Before you suggest ideas to your friend, listen to her account completely. Don’t cut off or dismiss her story. Not getting the full dish of what is going on can lead you to offer solutions that she may have tried before or might find insensitive, unrealistic, or feel that the suggestions don’t pertain to the obstacles at hand. Also, you have to be prepared for the case in which your friend does not consider your advice at all. People tend to learn from their own trials and errors, therefore your words of wisdom may go through one ear and come out the other. I’ve learned that it is best to cease with the well-meaning counsel if it has been offered more than once and been ignored. Remember, your girlfriend doesn’t have to take your advice and you definitely are not required to provide it.
Lastly, you need to be aware of how much you can take and communicate that to your friend. Let her know that every time you talk to her you don’t want to hear a story that starts with, “GIRL, let me tell you what happened!” If you find that her 3 a.m. phone calls filled with panic are wearing you down, let her know. There is a fine line in being a rock of support in times of need and being a spine. It is your job to be there to comfort, not to hold her up completely. At the end of the day, you can’t be a good friend to anyone if you are not a good friend to yourself. Remember to not over-extend yourself to her to the point where you are experiencing the same symptoms she is or find yourself face to face with her drama. If you find yourself balancing off the tip of a cliff with her, it is definitely okay to let her know the following: “Hey, I can’t do this with you. I’ve come too far. I love you, but this is not my fight. I can support you when you need it, but I can’t sacrifice my wellness to do so.” Of course, these words will most likely not be the words your friend wants to hear, but at the end of the day honesty is one of the principles that keeps sisterhood afloat.
More on Madame Noire!
- DY-NO-MITE!!! 8 Celebrities and the Roles That Typecast Them and Stunted Their Careers
- Why Won’t People Let Barack Obama Be Black?
- Do That Ish And Watch What Happens: 8 Things You Shouldn’t Do Without Consulting Your Husband
- Frank and His Odd Future: Why His Coming Out Is Cool, But Also Very Complicated
- Noire Naturals, Episode 3: Creating a Sophisticated Elegance
- Open Door Policy: The Truth About “Breaks” and Open Relationships
- Forget The Divorce Rate, I’m Still #TeamMarriage Because Other’s Failures Don’t Determine My Success