I learned a bit more about the value of tact and empathy today. I have four younger sisters and a little brother who is a toddler, in this instance the youngest of my little sisters was my teacher.
My Mum also teaches at the family music shop and so the setting for the lesson was that my Mum had picked me up from my flat on her way to work. My little sister was in the front seat of the car. My Mum expressed that she was late and she was annoyed by it. Her resistance to lateness manifested in a stream of cars which weren’t letting her drive past for a good chunk of the journey there.
My sister then said to my Mum, “You’re very late.” Of course this didn’t have a positive response. My sister is 10 and hasn’t fully come to appreciate how her choice of words and tone might affect others. She, like me, has the gift of brutal honesty and while I have learned to be honest while being simultaneously compassionate, she has not learned the balance of the two skills just yet.
My sister was going to visit her Dad for a few hours while my Mum was at work. When she had noted the time and expressed the fact that my Mum was late for work, she then said, “I’m late too.”
Now, of course she hadn’t taken into account the consequences of her expressing these two phrases of three words each. It’s difficult for a child to understand why they should withhold their opinion or emotions when they want to express them. I understand why this is confusing for a child. It’s confusing for me, even now!
It was expressed that my sister hadn’t come to grips with the nature of tactfulness quite yet.
The Truth Of Tact
The definition of the word, ‘tact’ is: “skill and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues.”
The etymology of the word ‘tact’ is… Tact comes from the Latin word, “tangere”, which means “to touch.”
So really when we are talking about being ‘tactful’, we are talking about somebody touching another, energetically, in a way that has little, or no resistance. We are talking about compassion.
The key with everything in life in balance. And so this is no different. When we are seeking the perfect integration of tact into our personalities we are seeking a harmonious fusion of compassion and honesty.
It’s true that the brutal honesty of a child is refreshing, and it’s not something I would want to change. But of course there are times when brutal honesty is not useful, beneficial, or at all welcome. In fact when we are brutally honest, in times of deep emotional upset for others, it becomes less of a display of honesty, and more of a display of insensitivity.
While it’s refreshing to see the honesty of a child, it’s not so refreshing to see the dishonest and self-sacrificial traits of most adults. So many adults withhold their true emotions and suppress them, in order to appear kind, considerate, loving and compassionate, when the truth is… if we are angry or upset about something we don’t really want to be kind, considerate, loving or compassion at all. We want to thrash about the place and throw all of our toys out of the pram. And really when we aren’t expressing ourselves honesty because we want to loving or compassionate to others, we are in fact not being very loving or compassionate to ourselves.
I’m not saying either approach to handling situations is wrong. They all have their consequences. My personal opinion would be that it would be preferable to find a balance between compassion and honesty. This way nobody is suppressing their emotions and nobody is being insensitive.
The Truth Is…
The truth is that all children come into this world in alignment, with absolutely no resistance. Resistance is something that is learned as we grow and integrate with the grand illusion of physical reality. Really a child just expresses his or her truth, there is nothing wrong with that. They are only made to feel as though there is something wrong with it by their ‘elders’ because it triggers the ‘elders’. When we are triggered by something, our usual go-to reaction is to cast blame and find a way to transfer the responsibility of the way we feel onto someone else. I think some of us believe this will get rid of the feelings. It never does.
When a child says something which is their honest truth they’re not thinking about how others might react. They are not thinking about the consequences of what they are saying. They are living in the moment and speaking from the heart about how they feel. This is an amazing thing.
- If we all took responsibility to how we feel and when we express how we feel to others do so with the understanding that it is not their responsibility to do anything about it, unless they want to…
- If we listened to others with an hear for how we can serve, instead of looking for something that we can take issue with…
- If we spoke from the heart and maintained an opened mind at all times…
- If we were to remind ourselves that what anybody says is about them, and not about us and so there is nothing to take personally…
Then we would see a significant decrease in the clashing of egos on a regular basis.
If we could take responsibility of all these things within ourselves we would be forever in a state of learning, growing and happiness.
From this day forth I shall endeavour to marry honesty and compassion with an opened mind and heart. I will be on the middle path between the brutal honesty of a child which a well programmed and conditioned adult might see as “inconsiderate”, and the suppressive, self-sacrificial numbed-out adult that is a cultural norm in today’s society… I am, from this moment and all subsequent expansive moments compassionately honest. Or honestly compassionate. Either or…
This is not a suppression of who I am, or what I am feeling. What/How I am feeling will be discharged appropriately and expressed honestly. This is not a change to the level of honesty I express. It is an adjustment to the way in which I express the honest and compassionate part of me.
I would love to hear from you about how you go about maintaining a similar balance in your life, in your own way.
Thank you for being you! You’re beautiful!
Namaste, and allow the expression express to be under-way!
Andey Out! xxx