Re-Imagining Compassion

Some of us feel that we have entered a permanent state of what pioneering psychologist William James called our “torn-to-pieces-hood”. And there is a limit to our self-compassion and ability to self-sooth and cope. With the pandemic, this has become worse. Work-from-home held the possibilities of greater independence and new freedoms, more family time. The reality has proved to be a ‘new (ab)normal’, which includes ‘(un)social distancing’, Zoom fatigue, more uncertainty, anxiety and loneliness. The suffering of many has increased. The pandemic has disrupted many of the social routines that supported our self-regulated living.

The master : servant, analogy is often used with technology. Can you imagine technology serving as your servant, or more aptly, your compassionate companion, where it could support you to better self-regulate and thrive? Can you imagine regularly using tools online, that are crafted by experienced practitioners, that can help enhance your life? Or do you foresee the analogy being reversed and becoming one of servant : master, with quality of life deteriorating as you are increasingly controlled?

Evolutionary psychologist Paul Gilbert speaks of our “new brain-mind troubles” brought about by our advanced ability to look ahead, imagine the worst and become anxious, or look back and feel resentment and regret. Can technology help and facilitate our living in the present moment, or will it hinder our well-being by further isolating us? Will “high-tech” harm humanity’s need for the personal, the social, for “high-touch”?

G.I Gurdjief would consider the servant, in the master : servant relationship, to be representative of imprisonment, with each individual’s goal being to acknowledge the areas of their lives where they are imprisoned, or unable to make choices that align with their aim, or vision for the world. It is interesting to think about our actions and see how many of them we are really doing autonomously. In many ways, many people have become robots, acting based on codes, and predetermined information. Ironically, in many areas, technology has made this scenario even more true.

Can you imagine a world where technology’s default was to help us become more autonomous, healthy, happy and better at self-regulating, and subsequently, supporting the people we interact with to do the same? With respect not only to technology, but also how we use space, develop our relationships with others and nature, adopt working directions and habits, find ways of being true to ourselves in our being and our doing. What possibilities occur to when you consider Gurdjieff’s ‘law of three’: Given a ‘for’ and an ‘against, there can be a (‘and/both’) reconciliation, and as a result of this process a new dimension is born. A new testament teaching is that if a seed (‘for’) falls to the ground (‘against’), then only with water and sunlight (a reconciling force) will there be a sprout (birth of a new and third thing).

There is a free, confidential online Work@Home self-assessment that will give you feedback on how you are doing at this given moment. It has been designed by experienced coaches and counsellors. The questions and answers will give you lots to think about. You can take the self-assessment here:

Photo by Julien de Salaberry on Unsplash

Lead Author: Graham Williams

Graham is the author of the book The Halo and the Noose, the Power of Storytelling and Story Listening in Business Life. Graham offers a series of workshops ranging from applying Da Vinci for personal growth to exploring African Stories. You can reach out to Graham through his website and/or via e-mail,

Anchor Author: Daniel Rudolph

Dan has been living and working in different countries for the past decade. He is dedicated to re-imagining education and enabling opportunities for experiential learning and connection. One of his current passions is learning and spreading juggling.

Dan will be co-facilitating Re-Imagining Our Future, an online course offered by the Charter For Compassion’s Education Institute, starting October 26, 2020.



Can you imaging a more harmonious future?

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