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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Lynne Henderson

http://j.mp/UBXsT1

Lynne Henderson & Edwin Rutsch: Shyness, Anxiety & How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Lynne Henderson is director of the Shyness Institute and Director of the Stanford Shyness Clinic for over 25 yrs.  Lynne is author of Building Social Confidence: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety. The book offers a supportive program based in compassion-focused therapy for moving past social anxiety and the self-critical thoughts that propel it. 

How to build a culture of empathy?
 

1. Each of us practicing mindfulness and empathy ourselves consistently. Making mindfulness part of daily life, continuing to increase the number of classes/groups that have formed around mindfulness, disseminating these from elementary school on.

2. Increasing funding for research related to mindfulness and empathy, focusing on the beneficial results of empathy on the well being of self and others.

3. Increasing the focus on and conducting more research on compassion based psychotherapies such as my Social Fitness Training for shyness, Gilbert’s Compassion Focused Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. My book,

4. Increasing the understanding and practice of compassion throughout the world through internet information dissemination and putting psychological interventions online
.
Sub Conference: Science

 

 
 

 

Lynne Henderson & Edwin Rutsch: Shyness, Anxiety & How to Build a Culture of Empathy

 

 

Transcripts

  • 00:00 Introduction

  • (transcription pending)

  • (Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)

 
Q. What is your most important value and do you have a story of how it became important to you?

I guess my most important value is that everyone has a voice and is regarded as having an important contribution to make. I think that is what drew me to working with shyness. We lose emotional and intellectual resources when people are not given a voice and we need to facilitate the expression of the voices of people who are more quiet than others. I don’t think it is simply their responsibility to speak up more and act more like extraverts. I think each of us has a temperament to manage and that it is as important to listen to the quieter ones as to encourage them to speak up.

I also think we need to acknowledge and to positively sanction human vulnerability, to revere it; else, what is courage? Viktor Frankl “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning


Q. What is your metaphor of what empathy is like?

I suppose for me it is standing behind someone’s eyes while beholding them from the front with unconditional love.

I also like dictionary definitions and what they imply. Definitions generally include a cognitive and an emotional component. Empathy is ‘the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another’, according to Dictionary.com. According to the Oxford dictionary, it is ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’.

Seeking to understand and share the feelings of others and ourselves on a daily basis can change the world in the sense of Eleanor Rostrom’s, Coalitions of the Willing. She emphasized the regulated and co-ordinated use of common resources and demonstrated how we can, and people do, create this kind of thing ourselves.

I believe the same is true for empathic cultures. They can start small. We can build them.

We need Mindfulness (Kabat-Zinn’s definition; “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”) in that we need the self-awareness to know whether we are in an empathic state, a judgmental state, an indifferent state, etc.

In the way I use the words, mindfulness contributes to empathy and compassion subsumes both, adding the element of the wish to relieve suffering.

 

 What is the opposite of empathy and what is your metaphor for that?

Hitler's Germany where all sense and semblance of humanity seemed to have disappeared. War. Although you can be very effective in torture with empathy. I think it takes compassion in addition to empathy to build a world I’d like to see, a world without war.

 

Ideas for building a culture of empathy/compassion?


1. Each of us practicing mindfulness and empathy ourselves consistently. Making mindfulness part of daily life, continuing to increase the number of classes/groups that have formed around mindfulness, disseminating these from elementary school on.

2. Increasing funding for research related to mindfulness and empathy, focusing on the beneficial results of empathy on the well being of self and others.

3. Increasing the focus on and conducting more research on compassion based psychotherapies such as my Social Fitness Training for shyness, Gilbert’s Compassion Focused Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. My book,

4. Increasing the understanding and practice of compassion throughout the world through internet information dissemination and putting psychological interventions online. I think that can include disseminating information about the power of compassion to change the world and using demonstration experiments or simply examples of places where that is happening, using old and new media. The non-violent protest of the monks in Myanmar was incredibly powerful for me and demonstrated compassion in a heartbreakingly powerful way, as do many of the stories of people in prison camps during the Holocaust.

 

 Viktor Frankl gave us many beautiful quotes, among them, “What is to give light must endure burning.” And, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”