10 signs you’re dealing with a truly compassionate person, according to psychology

Recognizing genuine compassion in others isn’t always straightforward. It’s more than just a simple act of kindness; it’s a deep-rooted, selfless concern for the well-being of others.

A truly compassionate person makes you feel seen, heard, and valued. They’re not interested in their own gain, but rather in lifting others up.

Psychology gives us a roadmap to identify these selfless souls. There are specific signs that can help us discern genuine compassion from mere politeness or fake empathy.

In this article, we’ll delve into ten tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with a truly compassionate person. Let’s dive in.

1) They feel others’ pain

Compassionate people don’t just sympathize with others; they empathize. Empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling, and it’s a key trait in compassionate individuals.

Renowned psychologist, Daniel Goleman, once said, “Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence.” This certainly rings true when identifying compassion.

A truly compassionate person doesn’t just understand your pain – they feel it with you. They’re not just there for you; they’re there with you. And it’s this ability to share your emotional load that makes them stand out.

Feeling others’ pain and being moved to alleviate it, is a strong sign of a compassionate person. It’s not about pity or feeling sorry for someone; it’s about connecting on an emotional level and offering genuine support.

2) They go the extra mile

I still remember a time when I was in college. I was going through a tough period, and my friend Susan noticed. She not only lent her ear and offered comforting words, but she also went the extra mile. She cooked homemade meals for me, helped me with my assignments, and even organized a fun weekend to lift my spirits.

That’s what compassionate people do. They don’t just offer a shoulder to cry on; they actively seek ways to alleviate your suffering. It’s not about grand gestures, but about the small acts of kindness that show they genuinely care.

Carl Rogers, a prominent psychologist, said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Compassionate people help you feel accepted, and in doing so, they provide the environment necessary for personal growth and change.

They put others’ needs before their own because their happiness is intertwined with yours. And that’s what makes them so special.

3) They’re not afraid to show vulnerability

Compassion requires a certain level of openness and vulnerability. Compassionate people aren’t afraid to show their own struggles and weaknesses. They understand that everyone has battles they’re fighting, and they’re not scared to share their own.

I’ve seen it firsthand. Compassionate people allow themselves to be seen, warts and all. They know that being human involves both strength and fragility, and they’re comfortable showing both.

The renowned psychologist Brené Brown once said, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

Compassionate people embody this quote. They don’t shy away from showing their authentic selves, because they know it brings them closer to others. Their honesty invites others to do the same, fostering deeper connections and mutual understanding.

4) They practice active listening

A few years back, I was going through a challenging phase. One of my close friends, John, was there for me. He didn’t just listen; he practiced active listening. He would look me in the eye, nod, and provide feedback that showed he truly understood my situation.

Active listening is an art that compassionate people have mastered. It involves fully concentrating, understanding, responding and then remembering what is being said.

Psychologist Carl Rogers said, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good.”

Compassionate people don’t just hear the words that are being spoken. They listen for the feelings behind those words and respond in a way that validates those feelings. They make you feel seen and heard in a world that often feels too busy to care.

5) They know when to step back

Compassion isn’t always about stepping in; sometimes, it’s about knowing when to step back.

It might seem counterintuitive, but compassionate people understand that everyone needs space to grow, and sometimes the best help they can offer is giving someone the room to figure things out on their own.

Famous psychologist Albert Bandura once said, “In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet life’s inevitable obstacles.”

Compassionate people have an innate understanding of this. They know that constantly swooping in to save the day can rob people of their ability to develop resilience and self-efficacy.

While they’re always there as a safety net, they know the importance of letting others spread their wings and fly.

6) They don’t expect anything in return

Compassionate people do what they do out of love, not for recognition or reward. They help because they genuinely want to, not because they are expecting something in return.

It’s like that quote from psychologist Wayne Dyer, “True nobility isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be.”

This captures the essence of compassionate people. They strive to improve themselves continually and do good for others, not because they want praise or rewards, but because they believe it’s the right thing to do. Their act of kindness is selfless and altruistic, making their compassion genuine and heartfelt.

7) They are patient and understanding

Patience is a virtue, and compassionate people have it in spades. I recall a time when my neighbor, an elderly gentleman, would consistently forget to turn off his garden hose, flooding my yard. Instead of getting frustrated, my compassionate friend Sarah would gently remind him every time, with a patient smile on her face.

Compassionate people understand that everyone has their own pace and their own struggles. They don’t rush people or get impatient with them.

As famous psychologist Carl Jung said, “Understanding does not cure evil, but it is a definite help, inasmuch as one can cope with a comprehensible darkness.”

Compassionate individuals live by this philosophy, demonstrating patience and understanding even in the most trying of situations. Their capacity to remain calm and supportive is a testament to their genuine compassion.

8) They bear witness to others’ pain without trying to fix it

One of the most profound acts of compassion is simply bearing witness to another’s pain, without trying to fix it or make it go away. It’s about acknowledging their suffering, validating their feelings, and offering support and understanding.

The renowned psychologist Rollo May once said, “It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.”

Compassionate people don’t attempt to quick-fix the pain of others. Instead, they understand that healing takes time. They offer a steady presence and a listening ear, providing comfort during the healing process. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it’s one of the purest forms of compassion.

9) They care for themselves too

This might seem counterintuitive, but compassionate people also show compassion towards themselves. They understand that they can’t pour from an empty cup.

Psychologist Kristin Neff said, “With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.”

Compassionate people recognize this and make self-care a priority. They know that they need to be in their best mental and emotional state to effectively help others. So while they’re often seen caring for others, they also take the time to care for themselves. It’s this balance that allows them to sustain their compassion without burning out.

10) They find joy in the happiness of others

There’s a certain joy that compassionate people derive from seeing others happy. I remember my aunt who always found immense joy in cooking for others. The smile on our faces as we relished her food brought her more happiness than anything else.

This is a classic sign of a compassionate person. They take pleasure in other people’s happiness, and their actions are often aimed at bringing about this happiness.

As psychologist Martin Seligman said, “The good life is a life of benevolent and meaningful engagement with the world.” Compassionate people embody this sentiment, finding joy and meaning in making the world a better place for others.

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Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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