Tag Archives: empathy

Can We Forgive Enough to Ban the Box?

By Monica Nelson Twenty years ago I worked as a volunteer with a group that taught GED preparation to a group of prisoners at a large metropolitan county jail. What a wonderful experience that was. Our little group consisted of three or four instructors and a leader who was in charge of our program. We met with a group of around 20 prisoners once a week. The men we instructed had to be chosen to participate in the program because there was a waiting list three times longer than the number of accepted participants. Each student had to display exemplary behavior to get in and, once in, had to give … Continue reading

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Taking on Too Much Responsibility – 4 Tips to Equanimity

By Monica Nelson I was working in the kitchen the other morning with the TV going on in the the other room. It was a child’s cartoon with a clear message, teaching its young viewers the need to be responsible. This is a message that demands attention, and over the last twenty or thirty years has been sounded with great veracity. Not only to children, but to those who have grown up and still refuse to become responsible. While true that it is a necessary lesson for many people, there is a flip side – a downside to it that we have not yet come to recognize. That flip side … Continue reading

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What Makes Us Perfect is Our Imperfection

By Monica Nelson As a writer, I adore watching movies in order to study story structure. I will devour the really well made flicks over and over to catch nuances that I may have missed in the previous viewings. When I started this pastime, I discovered a side glitch that I didn’t expect. I began to see errors in production – for instance, an article of clothing that was invented or used only after the time period the story took place. Or a glimpse of a piece of filming equipment in the background. All imperfections to an otherwise perfect creation. I realized that this is a very apt metaphor for … Continue reading

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Top 10 Qualities to Grow If You Want Indestructible Friendships

By Monica Nelson True friends are priceless. We all want and need friendships. Emerging science suggests that our brains and nervous system thrive from interactions created through friendship. And that our self-identity is derived from people we closely associate with. But we don’t need science to know that friends add zest and well-being to our lives. So here are my top ten qualities you will want to grow if you hope to create lasting and unbreakable friendships. 1. Love. You probably love your friend or that person would not be your friend. Having that love and showing it on a daily basis are two separate qualities. Love grows on its … Continue reading

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Which Side of the Self-Righteous Indignation Movement are You on?

By Monica Nelson You have a choice. Everyday you make this choice over and over. This choice, how you express yourself, how you guide your own actions, affects not only your destiny but the lives and destinies of others. The choice I am talking about is how you treat the people you come in contact with. Whether it’s family you see every day, or others that play a large part in (or simply brush by) your own life, or whether it is some anonymous stranger you come in contact with online – how you make this choice has consequences beyond finite understanding. For a couple decades now, I’ve noticed a … Continue reading

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You Can Change Other People, But Not in the Way You Think You Can

By Monica Nelson We’ve all heard how you can not change another person – that if you cannot accept someone’s behavior, your only option is to no longer associate with them. This is important advice if the behavior you cannot accept is violent or otherwise threatening. But in everyday relationships where unacceptable behavior is hurtful but not threatening or simply annoying, you do possess the ability to change that person’s behavior. But it is not in the way you think you can. When people want to change another person’s behavior, they typically resort to nagging, manipulation, or controlling behavior of their own. This type of solution is not a solution. … Continue reading

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What is Open-mindedness? And Why it is Imperative that You Work Toward It

By Monica Nelson To know what open-mindedness is, you first need to look at its opposite – narrow-mindedness. No one wants to be accused of narrow-mindedness. Yet, it is a very prevalent trait among us. Most people refer to their own narrow-mindedness as standing up for what they believe is right. While that sounds noble and altruistic, it is quite the opposite. To clarify, a narrow-minded belief is one in which we unconditionally believe that our way of thinking is correct, and that no one else’s opinion can have merit. We are unwilling to even consider another opinion. Opinionated beliefs come about from fear. We sense that someone with a … Continue reading

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Be Careful How you Classify Someone, Even if You Mean the Best By It

By Monica Nelson Many, many years ago when I was a young single adult, I became friends with a woman who wanted to set me up with all of her husband’s single friends. She was so adamant about doing this and wanted so much to see me connected to one of them that she tended to “talk me up” a lot. On one such set-up she told the man that I was a model. (Not true. I had taken modeling classes but had never worked as one.) On the night we were to get together, she and I traveled to a practice session (her husband and his friend were both … Continue reading

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How to Stop Manipulative or Controlling Behavior in Close Relationships

By Monica Nelson Last week we talked about how manipulators who are also emotionally intelligent people can covertly exploit you. You are in particular danger if you are a sensitive and highly empathetic person. One word of warning before we start: If the manipulator or manipulators in your life are also physically abusive, you must take the proper steps to separate yourself from them. If you choose to use these steps to work on the relationship, be sure to do so in a safe environment with others present. Counseling settings are appropriate as safe environments. I urge you to take the time and effort to ensure your own safety. First … Continue reading

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Is Emotional Intelligence a Double-edged Sword? – Beware the EI Covert Emotional Manipulators

By Monica Nelson Empathy is a strong and mostly positive character trait. We value empathy for its power in encouraging good moral behavior in society, teaching our young the difference between right and wrong, and creating a philanthropic sensitivity toward the less-fortunate in our world. But, like so many other things, empathy can be exploited. And often is in the hands of skillful manipulators. Manipulators come in all forms. Some are driven by character deficiencies, others by low self-esteem and painful or tragic pasts. Some, however, are simply born that way. But the very worst are those who know that they are manipulating others and continue to do so for … Continue reading

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