A sense of humor can jumpstart compassion.
What were Jesse and I fighting about? Something so painfully familiar that my mind doesn’t want to go there again. But I do remember my feeling of hurt and anger: How can he treat me like that? How can I stand it?
Maybe I remember the distress because I was at least trying to stand back from it, not get carried away by it, just let the feeling run its course. But not with a lot of success: hours later the best I could do was admit to Jesse I was still pissed, grieving, scared. Admit I was holding onto my distress, holding onto my defenses.
Maybe I managed to ask him not to yell at me.
Ah, but what he managed! He calmed down and said “What you need to remember is that you’re not the only one who gets afraid.”
Right on the button! When he’s scrinching his eyes at me — even before he starts yelling — I automatically perceive that as hostility, wanting to get me. I lose compassion, lose the track of the insight I have been able to grasp: that he’s defending himself because he feels attacked. I see him as enemy.
We’re both doing it: a perfect pair. He observed as much, and went on to say, with a gentle, ironic smile, “We should both get enlightened.”
My heart melted.