1000 Voices for Compassion

photo credit www.healthyplace.com
photo credit http://www.healthyplace.com

Today bloggers from all walks of life and lines of interest are blogging on the topic of compassion. Please look for the hashtag #1000Speak to read more about how people are thinking about compassion in our lives today.

Today, I am thinking of all the people out there that struggle with mental illness and the shame and self-blame that goes along with having an illness that people can not see. Society does not show understanding and patience for people who suffer from mental illness.

People do not choose to be ill. Illness is not a moral failing. People who are struggling with an illness of the brain deserve our compassion. More importantly, they deserve to receive self love. It is far too easy to slip into a blaming posture because we do not understand what is going on inside the mind. Patience and love can go a long way in helping a person heal.

We all have wounds that fester. Our life experiences leave scars on all our hearts that need compassion and understanding. Showing kindness and empathy to those around us can help us heal, yet showing kindness and forgiveness to ourselves can be even more powerful. We all have weak spots that deserve support. We all deserve kindness.

Through my writing, I seek to show how love and compassion can transform lives. How do you speak for compassion in the world?

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What Does Happy Look Like

Emotional intelligence needs to be developed in order for a person to successfully navigate the social world. I find that many parents don’t think to talk to their children about their emotional lives. We assume that kids can and do correctly identify what they are feeling. This is not always the case. Unless we talk to our children and help them identify what they are feeling in a situation and how to express that, they may grow up to be emotionally stifled adults.

In my writing, I spend quite a bit of time with some seriously stifled people. Lately, I have been exploring what happens when a woman can’t express anger and resentment on a day-to-day basis. The results end up being explosive and fatal for her relationships. I am also interested in how a lack of emotional self awareness could contribute to bullying behavior, especially in girls. Could a better sense of appropriate and inappropriate ways to express negative emotions lessen bullying behavior? Could children and adults live more satisfying lives if they had a better sense of what happy looked like? What do you think?

Exposure to Violence as a Child

I learned about this excellent video from Zoe over at Behind The Mask of Abuse. It is a bit long at 15 minutes, but it is time well spent.

The main character of one of my works-in-progress is the victim of child abuse and I wanted to get her coping strategies right in the novel. I studied psychology and philosophy in school, so I tend to go at research from that direction. As they discuss in this video, a child’s brain is physically changed by their early experiences. They will see the world through the lens of their early life. Change and recovery are not impossible but they are difficult.

Watch the video and think about the children you know. Do any of them show signs of early childhood trauma?

Women Behaving Badly

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In writing Overlook, I did hours of research on group dynamics and the issues that influence adult female friendships. I found many fascinating academic articles and several excellent books (most notably Queen Bee Moms & King Pin Dads by Rosalind Wiseman) that discussed the underpinnings of friendship. None of them were as candid and truthful as Alana Munro is in Women Behaving Badly – Exposing the Truth about Female Friendship. Her book is both gritty and accessible. I wish I had read it before writing Overlook. It would have been a big help in getting those scenes between Stacia and The Lookers right.

Here is the review I wrote on Goodreads: In Women Behaving Badly, Alana Munro exposes the ugly underbelly of female friendships. In this brave discussion of how women mistreat each other; Munro discusses how jealousy, gossip, and competitiveness erode relationships. She shares her own deeply personal experiences as well as the stories of pain and betrayal she has collected. I found it cathartic to read about how super intense female friendship is not “closeness” but a form of manipulation. The discussion of cliques and exclusive dyads was spot on.

Ms. Munro does not merely debunk the notion of a sisterhood of women. The last section of the book lays out some good tips on what to look for in a healthy friendship and offers support to every woman hurting from the betrayal and pain found in many female friendships.

Cognitive Vulnerability

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I was listening to Morning Edition yesterday and was intrigued by Shankar Vedantam’s story, Gloomy Thinking Can Be Contagious. The story talks about how the people you see every day, like a college roommate, can effect your outlook on life. Essentially, if you live with a person with a pessimistic worldview, you are more likely to be negative. Cheery people tend to make you more cheerful. I did a bit more digging and read the study done at Notre Dame. To oversimplify the study, Haeffel and Hames found that when a person is in a cognitively vulnerable state, depressive thoughts can be contagious.

I’m fascinated by the idea that depression can be contagious.

I know quite a bit about the hopelessness that descends on a person when they are depressed. Most of the characters I write about are depressed. I spend hours exploring what in their background could have brought on their depression. Have I been barking up the wrong tree? Could mood be influenced by the company they keep? Are they cognitively vulnerable to depression? What do you think about depression being contagious?

Related articles:
Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression Can Be Contagious