Does it ever make sense to withhold compassion? Does it make sense to hold back support, financial or otherwise, unless someone “deserves” it? Do you need to behave or act in a certain way to deserve good things or love in your life?
Earlier this year, during a meeting with a leadership team, we discussed how to support a team member experiencing some challenges and, as a result, was in a pattern of reactivity and negativity.
During this discussion, it was clear that a conversation needed to take place – allowing the current situation to go unaddressed was not an option. That said, they looked further and, with compassion, tried to understand the underlying issues that might be behind this person's behavior. They could see that a personal situation was likely creating more stress and worry.
It wasn't surprising that the conversation moved in this direction. This leadership team is consciously committed to creating a culture that fosters empathy and care while maintaining expectations around how people show up and deliver in their roles. As they explored what to do, they asked themselves what else might be supportive. Could they offer financial assistance or help in any other way?
I won't share all the ins and outs of the conversation, except to say, I appreciated that what started out as how do we handle an employee issue turned into, how do we help.
This is where things got interesting for me. I started to become conscious of hidden biases, a conditioned idea about when we deserve an increase in pay or extra support and when we don't.
Does someone only deserve extra support, money, love, or understanding when behaving appropriately?
Does giving someone money or support when they are acting in a way that isn't in the highest good for themselves or the team reinforce bad behavior?
Are you seeing it too? All the ideas we have about when it makes sense to withhold support or not go above and beyond for someone? All our conditioning on who might be deserving and who isn't?
Over the following days, I found myself thinking more about our conditioned ideas about when someone is deserving and when they're not as well as when we feel we are deserving and when we aren't.
When we feel undeserving, it indicates that we are holding something against ourselves. We can only have love, support, or help when we're good enough, have done enough, or have met some standard.
When we don't think others deserve our love, understanding, or support, we are doing the same thing.
We have a price tag on giving love, support, compassion, or resources.
I'm not saying give the money, the time, or energy. I'm not saying don't explore, listen, and do what you think is best for everyone. I am simply challenging us to look at where we draw the line.
Is it true that we should only give when people act appropriately, or is it possible that when we extend love, compassion, support, and resources in those moments, we could potentially transform a life, a relationship, or a circumstance?
When we use “deserving” as a measuring stick for ourselves or others, we react from conditioning. When we respond from our values or the wisdom within, we are led by something greater than old constructs.
Does it make sense to argue for withholding love, compassion, or resources for ourselves or others? Do we want to build a case that says we don't deserve those things, or they don't deserve those things?
I can see how my own ideas of deserving have kept me from experiencing more connection and support.
The conditioned idea that I have to figure it out myself or that I have to deserve success or support has kept me from receiving it. At times, I've withheld love and compassion for myself because I thought I should have handled something differently or mistakes in the past mean I have to pay for them now.
Does this sound familiar?
What if our behavior, upsets, and history are evidence of our humanness, end of story? They don't say anything about our worthiness or what we deserve.
We are worthy and deserving of love, understanding, and support. When we see this fully for ourselves, we can see this for others.
Seeing our family members, colleagues, and people we encounter as deserving of love, compassion and understanding gives us the clarity we need to move forward with wisdom and insight.
This allows us to hold boundaries and clarify expectations. We have honest conversations, human to human. Punishing, proving, and withholding isn't the aim – the aim is repair, resolution, transformation, and connection.
What would you give yourself or allow to happen if you believed you deserved it right now, as you are?
Where would you like to extend love and understanding with no conditions?
There is no one way here, and there is no right and wrong. This is an invitation for all of us to explore conditioning and biases that may limit the love, connection, and support we all experience.