People With These 7 Traits Understand The True Meaning Of Compassion

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Compassion: Definition & 7 Traits Of Compassionate People
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When you're trying to decide who you want to open your heart to, it's wise to take a close look at their dominant personality traits and characteristics to see whether or not they know how to show compassion, or if being compassionate is as important to them as it is to you.

What is compassion?

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According to the basic dictionary definition, compassion is "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." In order to have healthy relationships, compassion should be at the top of anyone's list of must-haves in potential partner.

Compassion may be the most important measure of human evolution. In fact, Darwin believed that caring about others is our strongest human instinct.

As David Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory and author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, shared in an interview, "Meditating on a compassionate approach to others shifts resting brain activation to the left hemisphere, a region associated with happiness, and boosts immune functions."

Everything great about humans can be traced to the desire to help others in need. This is what compassion is all about. Compassion is the essence of true love. Compassion is the key to a secure loving relationship and to a happy life.

Experts have found that giving and receiving compassion makes people happier by decreasing stress levels. Compassion helps us shift our perspective away from our own struggles and gives us a sense of spiritual well being.

If you want to true love, look for these characteristics of compassionate people. 

Because a compassionate partner will love you for the beautiful person that you are, throughout life's ups and downs.

1. Compassionate people are honest.

Honest people do not cover up. They have an ability to face and express the truth of who they really are. They are not afraid of being wrong or weak. They understand that mistakes and weaknesses are part of the human condition.

Dishonest people try to hide their mistakes and imperfections. They often have an inflated view of themselves.

Honest people are humble, self-revealing and able to identify with the struggles of others. They have a genuine desire to be helpful to others in need.

2. Compassionate people are shame-free.

Dr. Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston and authority on empathy, shame, vulnerability and courage, defines shame as "the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging — something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection."

You might think that someone who struggles with shame would have more compassion for others in need, but the opposite is usually true.

It's hard not to judge others when we are judging ourselves. Compassion requires a freedom from judgment, so compassionate people avoid labeling others as good or bad.

3. Compassionate people are emotionally connected.

Pay attention to whether the person you're involved with has the capacity to emotionally connect with you. Notice how they react when you express your fears or hurts.

Do they say things like, “Wow that must really hurt?" or, "I can’t imagine going through that"? Do they let you know that they're sad about what you're going through?

Make sure that their caring about your emotions goes beyond words. Do you hear a sad tone in their voice? Do you see a concerned look on their face? Do parts of their face or neck or ears turn red?

Those are sure signs someone is really with you and their emotions are authentically mirroring what you are feeling. Are they willing to listen without trying to shut you down or fix you?

It's difficult to connect emotionally if you didn’t grow up with emotionally connected parents, so be sure to ask questions about their childhood. This can help you understand them better by knowing if their parents compassionately responded to their emotional struggles.

4. Compassionate people are mindful.

It's hard to be honest, shame-free, and emotionally connected if you aren't also mindful. Mindfulness meditation has become a first-line intervention for therapists all over the world. It's been proven to reduce stress and promote well-being.

It's difficult to be compassionate if you don't know how to manage your own emotions. People who are overwhelmed by their emotions have difficulty not being overwhelmed by the emotions of others.

People who are mindful learn to feel and then let go of their own emotions without self-judgment. This makes it easier for them to be present and responsive to the emotional needs of others.

Researcher Dr. Kristin Neff has developed self-compassion mindfulness meditations that you may find helpful. This will give you an idea of the kind of spiritual practices a person might use to become more compassionate.

The tradition of praying for the well-being of others is also a great way for people to grow their compassion by becoming more mindful and present.

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5. Compassionate people are resilient.

People who are resilient in the process of overcoming their own problems are more compassionate about the problems of others. If your life has been without a wrinkle or you've grown up with a silver spoon in your mouth, you may have difficulty identifying with people who are struggling.

Research suggests that those with the most wealth are less altruistic than those with fewer resources. This can cause you some conflict when you're on the hunt for the love of your life.

Many men and women are attracted to financially successful people. And it makes sense to want to make sure your material needs are taken care of. We are biologically wired with strong survival needs.

But if the person you're attracted to is selfish and self-centered, this is the opposite of compassion! Someone can possess wealth but be a Scrooge in the way they relate to others.

People who have overcome challenges tend to be more aware of what it takes to live with limitations. They are more aware of the human condition, have bigger hearts and a greater capacity to give.

One important caution here: Someone may not be far enough along in their personal recovery from their challenges to rate high on the compassion scale. People early in recovery can be self-centered during their healing process, and only develop the capacity to care for others through years of working their own recovery program.

6. Compassionate people are grateful.

Gratefulness is the best antidote for selfishness. It's also the best way to evaluate whether the person you're interested in is mature in their capacity to be a truly compassionate person.

In her book, Grateful, Diana Butler Bass defines true gratitude as both an emotion and a response to the kindness of others. Grateful people notice the small ways that others are going out of their way to be kind and compassionate.

And grateful people also have the capacity to look at the glass of their lives as half full rather than half empty. They look at life’s challenges as learning opportunities. They appreciate what they have, even though it may be very little.

Grateful people are also less likely to be selfish and competitive. They do not continually compare themselves with the person who has more than they do. Because they are grateful for what they have, there's no need to compare or to become jealous.

Grateful people are more likely to be compassionate, giving of themselves or their resources to help others in need.

7. Compassionate people are spiritual.

Spiritual awareness is a source of compassion that transcends human limitations.

We have read the stories of great spiritual leaders like Gandhi and Jesus who, with their compassion, were able to change the course of history.

Spiritually aware people are able to tap into universal, unselfish, giving love. This kind of loving compassion will suffer and sacrifice for the betterment of others. Those who are spiritually aware see the likeness of God in everyone they meet.

They have what psychiatrist Martin Buber called the "I and Thou relationship with others." They see the sacredness in every human relationship. They refuse to judge others, even those who do awful things.

Buber learned about this kind of radical loving compassion through his imprisonment in the Nazi concentration camps. He was able to have compassion for the soldiers who were torturing and killing others. He found that this kind of spiritual compassionate awareness was the key to staying alive.

RELATED: What Is Self-Compassion? How To Be Kinder To Yourself With Deep Self-Love

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Michael W. Regier, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and certified emotionally focused couples therapist and EFT supervisor. He and his wife Paula are authors of the book "Emotional Connection: The Story & Science of Preventing Conflict & Creating Lifetime Love."