"I would like to explain the meaning of compassion, which is often misunderstood. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the rights of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend." ~Dalai Lama Most of us believe that in order to be compassionate we have to know how the other person feels and relate to it. In order to feel for someone we need to get into their space and feel what they feel. Many times this leads us to forgetting that we aren't them and will never be… Listening and asking questions is the best way to show compassion, as well as respecting that person's right to do what they decide. Too often we have no idea that we aren't feeling for someone, we are merely projecting how we might feel in the same situation. We believe we are 'helping' when we tell someone why something is or is not good for them. We would do well to heed our own advice since we are actually giving it to ourselves, using the other as a screen to project what is happening for us.
"Projection: The unconscious transfer of one's own desires or emotions to another person: we protect the self by a number of defense mechanisms, including repression and projection."
Just recently a family member asked for positive support around a possible move for her and her immediate family. What she received in return was a good number of supportive replies and a couple of comments that basically told her she was too old to change. That change would be detrimental, not only to her, but to her family as well. It is funny to me that even after asking directly for support she received comments that told her she was making a mistake. What I learned about the person who replied with warnings was that they, themselves, felt they were too old, too saddled, and too stuck to do anything other that what they are doing at this moment. The idea of change is scary for them and they would prefer it if others behaved with similar fears so as to not stir their own issues up. It is always best to never take someone's judgement around how you live your life too seriously. Listen to them, if you choose. Understand that they are telling you about themselves and love them for sharing.
When someone is doing something that isn't what is expected, how do you feel? Are you supportive or are you threatened? Do you feel like they should be following the 'rules' or do you have a twinge of excitement and inspiration with them forging their own way, doing what dare not be done?