Empathy

Most of Us Are Similar When We’re Small, but Then Critical Thinking Differentiates Us

From the moment we are born, the process of conditioning begins. This is a necessity of course, and is the key to our survival. Our guardians help us to feel the comfort and safety of the world outside the womb. We are guided to feed, sleep and communicate in the first days and weeks of our lives. As our cognitive skills grow and our awareness sharpens, we start to learn the ways of the people responsible for keeping us alive. Our years of learning begin even before we go out into the world to assimilate into society and join the myriad of institutions and social systems that will shape us into hopefully intelligent, independent and functioning adults.

We must learn how to collect information, assess situations and make decisions. This is called Critical Thinking and will enable us to live successful and fulfilling lives.

Critical thinking is the ability to objectively assess information in order to make sound judgement. From the smallest decisions to the most complex, this ability will determine the trajectory of our life.

Knowing how to perfect critical thinking relies on a number of traits that develop over time; by learning from example, trial and error and eventual self-determination. Identifying these traits and allowing them to become like second nature will facilitate critical thinking and studies 1 have shown that critical thinking disposition is not necessarily inhale rent, it needs to be taught, practiced, developed and perfected.

Here are ten traits of sound critical thinking skills.

Empathy

You need to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to be able to think critically. That means imaging yourself experiencing something that someone else is going through.

Impartiality

You must be able to exercise objectivity. That means looking at an issue from two opposing sides and considering all the factors in between.

Evidence

You require facts. It is no good merely hypothesizing. You need to look at proven and tested information that support various aspects of an issue or decision.

Creativity

You need to be able to think laterally. Can you come to a decision unconventionally? Sometimes, the answer is not immediately obvious and needs a diverse perspective.

Ethics

You must ask what is the benefit and the cost? Do your decisions have adverse impacts on others? Are you only advantaging yourself? What is the collateral damage if any?

Survival

You must weigh…

The school helping traumatised children thrive

Staff at a US high school created an environment built on empathy and redemption. Using a framework called trauma-informed care, they acknowledged childhood trauma when addressing behavioural issues – and suspensions dropped by 85 per cent in just a year

A few months into her freshman year at Lincoln Alternative High School, Kelsey Sisavath got into a fight with a girl outside of class. She was sent to the principal’s office and arrived still fuming. There was a time at Lincoln, a school once known as a last resort for those who were expelled from the area’s other high schools, when fights often ended in suspensions or arrests.

But principal Jim Sporleder didn’t immediately scold her. Instead, he asked how she was doing, then left her alone in the office with a granola bar, a water bottle, and some tissues to dry her tears. When he returned half an hour later, Sisavath was feeling calm enough to talk. “If he would have asked me the details and talked about punishment right away, it probably would have just pushed me even more off of the edge,” she reflects.

At the time, her personal life was riddled with pain. For years, Sisavath had bounced back and forth between her mother, who was addicted to opiates, and her emotionally distant father. Just two years earlier, she had been sexually assaulted by a stranger. All of these experiences left her feeling emotionally and physically neglected. In the eighth grade [the equivalent of UK year 9] she started hanging out with kids in gangs and skipping class to smoke marijuana.

That kind of behaviour followed her to high school, where she could have faltered. But Sisavath’s experience at Lincoln was different. Sporleder and the staff created an environment built on empathy and redemption through a framework called trauma-informed care. It acknowledges the presence of childhood trauma in addressing behavioural issues. The practices vary depending on the environment, but they begin with the understanding that childhood trauma can cause adulthood struggles such as lack of focus, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide.

Practices begin with the understanding that childhood trauma can cause adulthood struggles such as lack of focus, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and suicide

Lincoln Alternative High School is in the small city of Walla Walla in south-eastern Washington. It had been a place for students with disciplinary issues, those removed from the area’s other high schools, ordered there by a judge, or those who had performed poorly in middle school.

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Tucked in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, Lincoln’s brick edifice and cherry-red doors now serve as a place of opportunity for many students. At Lincoln, the first trauma-informed high school in the US, the graduation rate increased by about 30 per cent and suspensions dropped by almost 85 per cent a year after implementing the framework. The school’s success, along with the efforts of relentless community leaders, convinced service providers throughout the city to adopt trauma-informed care in their own fields.

Childhood trauma can cause adulthood struggles

The tipping point began in 1998 with a landmark study of more than 17,000 patients in southern California that showed the pervasiveness of trauma. The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study asked participants if they had experienced any of 10 types of childhood trauma, called adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.

ACEs include direct emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; a mother treated violently; a family member with substance dependence or mental illness; parental separation or divorce; a household member who was imprisoned; and emotional and physical neglect. The more types of trauma a person had experienced, the study found, the more predisposed they were to social, behavioural, and emotional problems and the adult onset of chronic illness. Nearly two-thirds of the participants were found to have experienced at least one traumatising childhood event. Some specialists have since added other ACEs, such as experiencing racism or witnessing violence.

The more types of trauma a person had experienced, the study found, the more predisposed they were to social, behavioural, and emotional problems

Around the same time as the ACE study, a group of researchers and paediatricians at Harvard University and elsewhere were conducting research showing that toxic stress – the frequent or continual strain on a young child without adequate adult support – could negatively impact the child’s brain development. Out of this research came an increased interest in trauma’s impact on the brain. Educators and doctors began wondering if childhood trauma could be prevented, or if its impacts could be minimised.

Looking beyond punitive traditions

On the first day of her freshman year in 2012, Sisavath noticed that her high school was different. The hallways were plastered…

Emotional Quotient Isn’t Just About Emotions. It Involves Numerous Skills

Your emotional quotient plays a major role in your personal and business relationships. In fact, if you don’t work on honing the numerous skills that can boost your emotional quotient, it’s highly likely that you’ll end up dealing with a lot of unnecessary drama and pain.

The good news is that you’re not stuck with one emotional quotient from birth. Your intelligence quotient (IQ) can change throughout your life 1, and the same is true for your emotional quotient.

What is ‘Emotional Quotient’ ?

Your emotional quotient defines your level of emotional intelligence. If you are able to understand the motivations of others and work cooperatively with them, you are displaying a high emotional quotient. However, it’s vital to be aware that this is just one piece of the puzzle.

Psychologists have divided emotional intelligence into five major categories 2, according to Psychcentral. Your overall emotional quotient is determined by assessing all five of the following factors:

1. Empathy.

Your ability to understand others and be sensitive to the needs of a diverse group of people. Here are a couple of things empathetic people excel at:

  • Service orientation. Empathetic people are skilled at this because they are able to anticipate and recognize the needs of others.
  • Developing and understanding others. These individuals have an innate sense of what people need to advance, and they can determine the feelings behind a person’s wants and needs.

You have the initiative, drive, commitment and ability to feel optimistic when facing obstacles. Even if you lean toward having a negative attitude, you can will yourself to be more optimistic when facing hurdles in life.

3. Self-Awareness.

Your amount of self-esteem and awareness of your own emotions, including how they impact you and everyone around you.

There are two major elements of self-awareness:

  • Self-confidence or the confidence in your capabilities and self worth; and
  • Emotional awareness, which means you are capable of recognizing your own emotions and their effects.

4. Social Skills.

Your success at working in a team, communicating effectively, being a leader, wielding influence, building relationships and initiating change all fit into this category.

5. Self-Regulation.

Your ability to manage your most disruptive thoughts and feelings, along with your level of innovation, trustworthiness, adaptability and conscientiousness.

There are many tests available that can help you determine your current emotional quotient. The Institute for Health and Human Potential even offers it for free. Just click here to take the quiz.

Is Your Emotional Quotient High or Low?

There’s no shame in discovering that you have a low emotional quotient because this gives you the opportunity to work on your self-improvement skills. Remember, we’re all constantly learning about ourselves and our place in the world.

The difference between a low and high emotional quotient can be as simple as deciding that you want to work on the necessary skills to improve your relationships.

Self-awareness is one of the biggest factors in your emotional quotient, but for many, it’s the hardest part to work on. We all live with ourselves 24/7, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve done the deeper emotional work that is required to be truly aware of what motivates us.

You might even be doing yourself more harm than good 3 by taking an anti-negativity approach. The reality is that all humans have negativity in their lives, but you can learn from yours.

How do You Determine Your “EQ”?

For example, let’s imagine a scenario where you and…

How To Develop Empathy By Understanding Subjective Hardship

how to develop empathy
how to develop empathy

Most people understand what hardship is but not a lot of people know how to develop empathy. When we think about someone who undergoes hardship, we often think about those who are impoverished, disabled or marginalized in some way. What we fail to think about is subjective hardship.

What is subjective hardship?

I define subjective hardship as the hardship that someone internalizes. Often, we cannot see these hardships. But, just because we cannot see them, does not mean that they are not real. Just because someone might seem fine on the outside, does not mean that person is not having real pain on the inside.

If a child from a high-income household expects hundreds of presents each year, and one year that child receives less than expected, there is a good chance that child will be undergoing subjective hardship.

Now, you might be thinking that this spoiled kid is not undergoing any hardship and that’s exactly the problem. The number of people who take their lives has increased in recent years. High schools and colleges are seeing a major increase in mental health issues across young people who are 14 to 24 years old.

Many of the reasons that these numbers are increasing revolve around how we conceptualize hardship. We have to reframe how we think about hardship to better understand what factors are leading to the increase in mental health service use.

Developing empathy for hardship

One of the best ways to understand how people conceptualize subjective hardship is to listen. Active listening is the key. Simply listening to someone…