January 13 – Compassion/Ruthlessness

May Sarton said, “And beyond even self-doubt no writer can justify ruthlessness for the sake of his work, because being human to the fullest possible extent is what his work demands of him.” This reminds me of one of the first principles of journalism my ethics teacher in college taught: Journalists are people first. In other words, show compassion. If you are reporting and a person, be they a source or the subject of a story, is in danger or hurting in some way, it is your responsibility as a fellow human being to ensure they are free of harm before reporting on their condition.

calm body of water

On the topic of compassion, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

What May Sarton has written is not just true for a writer. No one can justify ruthlessness!

We are told that one has to be ruthless to make it in the world of business. As women, we have believed that we have to be even more ruthless than men just because we are women. Many of us have achieved success, but at what price? We don’t like who we see in the mirror.

One of the characteristics of the addictive process is that we progressively lose touch with our own morality and our own spirituality. We progressively lose touch with our humanness. Recovery affords us the possibility of reconnecting with our compassionate self.”

While I have ruthlessly pursued my career in the sense that I stopped caring for myself and left little time in my life for others, I’m pleased to say I never acted out of intentional malice toward others in an effort to get ahead. I have always strived to credit others for their work and assistance they provided, no matter how seemingly small the contribution. Still, I certainly lost compassion for myself along the way.  This was evident in my now-former inner monologue that I am never enough, no matter how hard I try. The work I do is not good enough; I must be faster, work harder, do more. I was ruthless in never allowing myself time for rest and relaxation, nor to enjoy simple pleasures in life. The beautiful thing about recovery is it has allowed me to get in touch with my compassionate side once more. I have been building self-compassion for some time, and am finally starting to actually, truly love the person I am.  I am worthy of my own compassion, and so are you.

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