Compassion is the ability – or tendency rather – to feel sympathy for other peoples’ pain and the desire to help alleviate it. It’s what the “golden rule” is based on. The very stuff within that prompts us to not only help our friends in need, but to reach out to the victims of disasters we see on TV or to volunteer for charity.
Trouble is, while you can obviously have too little compassion, you can also have too much! So where do you fall on the feeling for others scale? Take this quick, score-it-yourself quiz and find out!
1. You just got a promotion. As you’re chattering about it with friends on the way to an after-work celebration, the other person who was up for the job gets on the elevator. You…
a. Stop talking and either change the subject or look for some way to make them feel better. (5 points)
b. Make an even bigger point of your new position – after all, you won! (0 points)
c. Scale back on your glee – you know what it’s like to be on their side of things, too. (3 points).
2. Your significant other is not only running late after a long day, but completely frazzled by the time they do get home. Trouble is, they’re supposed to cook you a romantic dinner. You…
a. Offer to cook it instead. (5 points)
b. Offer to take a rain check. (3 points)
c. Say nothing, a deal’s a deal! (1 point)
3. When your friends are in trouble, you…
a. Are usually too busy to offer any assistance, but of course you’d like to! (1 points)
b. Are the first person they call… they know you’ll jump any time of day or night. (5 points)
c. Are willing to help in any way you can, but of course you know your own limits and occasionally have to say no. (3 points).
d. Are not the usual go-to… unless they want some tough love! Your credo is personal responsibility! (0 points)
4. While in the rest room at work, you overhear a private phone conversation between your not-so-popular colleague and their significant other. Not only are the details juicy, they’re potentially embarrassing. Do you spread the word around the office?
a. Only to my closest work friend. I mean, who can resist telling somebody? But I would swear them to secrecy. (2 points)
b. Are you kidding? If I could send an anonymous email to the whole company, I would! But since I can’t, I’ll settle for passing it on verbally! (1 point)
c. No. As much as I don’t like this person, the matter has nothing to do with work and I’d be devastated if someone spread that kind of information about me. (3 points)
d. No, but I may let them know I accidentally overheard and see if there’s anything I can do to help. (5 points)
5. Your friend unexpectedly brings a new friend of theirs along for a group dinner outing. You don’t know this new person and neither do the others. You…
a. Do your best to try and include the new person in the conversation. (3 points)
b. Proceed as usual – it wasn’t your decision to invite this person. (1 points)
c. It depends on what kind of vibes they’re giving off. (2 point)
d. Make your distaste for the outsider known. This was supposed to be a friends dinner! (0 points)
e. Make the conversation all about them… You want them to feel welcome, after all! (5 points)
6. Your personal motto is closest to:
a. Every man for himself! (0 points)
b. Treat others as you wish to be treated. (3 points)
c. Always put others first, no matter what! (5 points)
7. On your way to work, you see a homeless person camped out with a sign asking for food or spare change. You…
a. Not only drop the singles from your wallet but are deeply saddened for the rest of the day – how is their so much misfortune in the world? (5 points)
b. Offer them your lunch and send a positive intention their way. (3 points).
c. Look the other way. You don’t need to see this on your way to work! (1 point)
d. Roll down your window and ask them if they have a social security number… because if so, they should get a job! (0 points).
0-14 points: Cold hearted!
It’s one thing to look out for your own interests, but to do so with such little regard for the feelings of those around you is a dangerous choice! Why, you ask? Because, though you may not realize it, you’re likely alienating the very people you may one day need to turn to for help, sympathy or a shoulder to cry on. Granted, you probably aren’t the crying type, oh master of self-sufficiency, but the truth is, no man is an island and by acting as if you are, not only are you shirking responsibility for your words and actions, you’re asking to be presented with heartache. After all, the universe gives you what you put in. Be nicer to people, work on understanding that nobody is perfect and try to remember that just like you, everyone else has feelings too!
15-28 points: Compassionate and caring
While you know enough to take care of yourself, you also display keen awareness of the feelings of others – an admirable balance not everyone so easily achieves. You understand that while you’re not responsible for other people’s well being, a little kindness goes a long way toward contributing to the common good and that while it is not your job to fix things for people, an encouraging word or small gesture certainly helps. Continue your considerate behavior (as well as your self-preservation) and you’re bound to further your well-deserved reputation as a benevolent but strong person to admire.
29 points or more: Overly empathetic
One of your greatest strengths may just be your empathy. You feel other peoples’ pain and want nothing more than to help cure it. Trouble is, you think that you can fix it – or that it’s your responsibility to make things better for everyone and anyone any time that anything goes wrong. You are not the cause of people’s problems, nor can you be the cure. As such, it would behoove you to work on not taking others’ troubles so personally. Being adversely affected by adversity, to a certain point, is a mark of sensitivity that opens our hearts to the human experience. Letting them dominate your life or depress you however, is a mark of foolishness that robs you of joy and gives you a false sense of purpose. While selfishness is never the order of the day, try putting yourself and your needs first. What you may find is this – what is good for you (speaking up for yourself, asking for what you need, making only promises you can honestly keep) is actually good for everyone else too. And that, bleeding heart, is truly the best you can do to make a difference!
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