GPS FOR THE SOUL
02/04/2016 11:33 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

3 Ways to Get What You Want While Building Your Compassion Muscle

The anniversary of my mom's death, my birthday, my wedding day, having a baby, seeing hummingbirds -- what do all of these moments have in common? They are all times when I miss my mom. They are days where I feel a bit weepy, and I don't feel like being chipper. They are the days when the answer "I'm fine" feels like a lie.

We all go through days when it is hard to put on a happy face. It's not just when we miss someone who has died, but it also happens when we get in a fight with our significant other, when we feel worried that we aren't going to make ends meet for the month, when we feel stuck in our job, when life just isn't going the way want it to, or when we look in the mirror and don't like what we see.

These are just a few of the circumstances that can affect how we feel on a day-to-day basis.

Remember the golden rule? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Since we don't typically live from the inside out, meaning people don't know what we are going through, and we can't tell what others are going through either, let's live with more compassion and understanding. Here are a few tools to help you navigate the world, and actually have your emotional needs met.

1) When someone is anything less than kind, try to imagine what they may be going through. Think of the most generous interpretation of their actions, meaning give them the benefit of the doubt. The beauty of reacting this way is that instead of anger and frustration, you get to choose compassion and love. Not only is this better for them, but it is also a nicer way for you to relate in the world.

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2) Tell the truth about yourself. Now, you don't always need to share your most vulnerable feelings with everyone, but when having a close interaction with someone who is affected by your current state of being consider sharing a little insight into the way you are acting. For example, when someone asks how you are doing, you may respond, "You know, it has been a little bit of a hard day, thank you for asking though." If you are feeling a little bit bolder or talking to a friend, you could even say, "I am having a hard day because today is the anniversary of my mom's death, thanks for asking."

3) Ask for what you want or need. Unfortunately and fortunately, people can't read our minds. So when you are having a hard day or moment, tell people what you need. For example, on the anniversary of my mom's death I let people know that I was sad and that I missed her. I asked people close to me to share their memories and to go for a walk in her honor. I also asked my husband to be particularly patient and kind to me that day. By asking for what you want, the people in your life are able to support you better. People can't necessarily remember all the dates that are hard or important for us. Set up the people in your life for success by reminding them of important dates and telling them what would make it better for you.

By giving people the benefit of the doubt, sharing what is going on for you, and asking for what you need, you build compassion for yourself and others, and you are more likely to have your emotional needs met during these moments of inevitable heartache.