Compassion: A painkiller for your mind

Compassion can be likened to a painkiller, except that physical painkillers offer temporary relief whereas compassion has long-term effects.

A painkiller for your mind

When we experience physical pain, we reach out for painkillers. But when it comes to emotional pain, there seems to be no reliable way to find relief.

As a result, many turn to anti-depressants, alcohol and other self-destructive options.

The culprit behind all emotional pain is our own thought process. When we experience emotional pain, we tend to become entangled in self-defeating thoughts. Then, all we think about is our suffering, our pain. We wallow in self-pity. Sure enough, we find ourselves in a quicksand of pessimism and hopelessness until the pain becomes unbearable.

I have discovered that there is an effective and safe remedy to relieve emotional pain without resorting to pills, or abusing substances. Best of all, this remedy is available to everyone for free. It’s called compassion.

The word compassion comes from the Latin compati meaning “to suffer together”. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines it as “the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” So, compassion shifts your focus from self to another. When we’re compassionate, we get involved in another’s pain and, in the process, our own sense of misery diminishes. Thus, being compassionate helps us forget our problems as we help others deal with theirs. If you’re in the middle of an emotional turmoil, turn on your compassionate side and notice the difference—it works wonders.

Painkiller with a difference

Compassion can be likened to a painkiller, except that physical painkillers offer temporary relief whereas compassion has long-term effects. Scientific research endorses the therapeutic power of compassion. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, those who demonstrated high levels of compassion for others were more receptive to social support, enabling them to better handle acute psychological stress and maintain overall wellbeing.

Although compassion is an inherent aspect of all human beings, in most people, it remains a dormant virtue. If you wish to activate or augment your compassionate side, try compassion meditation, which involves focusing on a loved one and wishing for that person to be relieved of pain and sorrow, and then extending this to strangers, adversaries, and even the entire sentient world. [1]

What makes compassion really worth the shot is that not only does it help alleviate our own pain but it also helps lessen another person’s agony. Two, for the price of one!

[1] The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education: Studying How Compassion Manifests in the Brain

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


  1. I loved the article. could we please have deeper insights to for practical application of compassion? since human mind need tangible results, some practical hand on techniques would strengthen the faith. although, i do understand that compassion is best experienced and felt than something merely visible.


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