Before “ruinous empathy” there was “idiot compassion”

“Idiot compassion” was coined back in the 70s/80s by Tibetan Buddhist meditation master Trungpa Rinpoche. Here’s a great interview with his student, Pema Chodron. Quote explaining it:

It refers to something we all do a lot of and call it compassion. In some ways, it’s whats called enabling. It’s the general tendency to give people what they want because you can’t bear to see them suffering.

Basically, you’re not giving them what they need. You’re trying to get away from your feeling of I can’t bear to see them suffering.

In other words, you’re doing it for yourself. You’re not really doing it for them.

Pema Chodron

I went down the rabbit hole a bit and found this post adds some insight:

Chodron exposes the danger in this: instead of offering a friend medicine, bitter though it may be when ingested, you feed them more poison—at the very least, you don’t take it away from them. This, she says, is not compassion at all.

Derek Beres

This quote hit especially hard:

We choose short-term avoidance over what we perceive to be longer term suffering. Since we don’t inherently know what the future state holds, we choose what we think to be the most comfortable path, persisting in our folly without becoming wise.

The hardest part is not imagining the future.

Derek Beres

The hardest part is not imagining the future. Preach.

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