The mediator as conductor: Repertoire
Compassion and Self-compassionThe sixth article in the 'Mediator as a conductor' series
Compassion and its place in a Mediator
"Compassion is perhaps one of the most basic virtues that might be expected of mediators."
Compassion is slowly emerging from the empathy-induced mists of obfuscation by empathy studies to become a signification factor in health and happiness in human beings.
Compassion toward others has been associated with both cognitive and affective empathy, the healing of emotional pain, acceptance toward self and others, decreased negative affect, and greater forgiveness .
This paper will show how compassion develops from an autonomous decision to practise self-compassion, transcends empathy, and becomes an integral part of Aristotle's Practical Wisdom  . Such a combination is an ideal fit for the emotional, and intellectual traits and persona of a mediator.
2 . Empathy is often divided into two or more types a. Affective empathy, where a person experiences another's emotions.
b. Cognitive empathy where a person tries to imagine and understand what it would be like to be in another's shoes. This is a more detached, intellectual exercise and any action is conditional on multiple negative factors.
3. Compassion has been described as a special form of empathy "that involves not only having feelings of concern for the suffering of others but also wanting to alleviate it" (Siegel & Germer).
Mascaro et al define compassion, "as the deep wish that another be free from suffering, coupled with the motivation to alleviate such suffering "
The biggest difference between compassion and empathy is the compassionate desire to act or move to alleviate the suffering (or pain, stress, emotional distress, etc) of a person.
The second difference is that empathy can cause mediators to mix their emotions with those of a mediatee (contamination) or be overwhelmed by an accumulation of emotions from ongoing mediation and experience fatigue or exhaustion/burn-out. This does not happen with compassion work.
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