Responding To Microaggressions In The Classroom

The term “microaggression” was coined in 1970 to name relatively slight, subtle, and often unintentional offenses that cause harm (Pierce, 1970). Since then, a substantial body of research on microaggressions has demonstrated their prevalence and harmful effects (Boysen, 2012; Solorzan, et. al., 2010; Suárez-Orozco, et. al., 2015; Sue, 2010).

Whether an observer, the target, or the unintentional perpetrator of microaggressions, faculty often don’t know how to respond to them in the moment. We may feel frozen (if the observer) or defensive (if the target or perpetrator). How we respond can shift the communication climate from supportive to defensive, which can have an adverse effect on student learning and comfort (Dallimore, et al, 2005; Souza, et al, 2010).

Despite the feelings of paralysis or reactivity that tend to emerge in response to microaggressions in the classroom, certain practices can be implemented to increase the likelihood of maintaining a supportive climate. The following communication framework is offered as one of many possible response strategies to help faculty feel better equipped to effectively respond when a microaggression occurs.

I developed this framework (first introduced in Chueng, Ganote, & Souza, 2016) as an interactive response one could take to a microaggression by a student in the classroom. The acronym and steps below provide a guide on how to take ACTION rather than feeling frozen when faced with a microaggression.

Ask clarifying questions to assist with understanding intentions.

“I want to make sure that I understand what you were saying.  Were you saying that…?”

Come from curiosity not judgment.

  • Listen actively and openly to their response.
  • If they disagree with your paraphrase and clarify a different meaning, you could end the conversation. If you suspect they are trying to “cover their tracks,” you may consider making a statement about the initial comment to encourage learning.

I’m glad to hear I misunderstood you, because, as you know, such comments can be…”

  • If they agree with your paraphrase, explore their intent behind making the comment.

Can you tell me what you were you hoping to communicate with that comment?”

“Can you please help me understand what you meant by that?

Tell what you observed as problematic in a factual manner.

“I noticed that . . .”

Impact exploration: ask for, and/or state, the potential impact of such a statement or action on others.

“What do you think people think when they hear that type of comment?”

“As you know, everything speaks. What message do you think such a comment sends?”

“What impact do you think that comment could have on …”

Own your own thoughts and feelings around the impact.

“When I hear your comment I think/feel…”

“Many people might take that comment to mean…”

“In my experience, that comment can perpetuate negative stereotypes and assumptions about… I would like to think that is not your intent.”

Next steps: Request appropriate action be taken.

“Our class is a learning community, and such comments make it difficult for us to focus on learning because people feel offended. So I am going to ask you to refrain from stating your thoughts in that manner in the future. Can you do that please?”

“I encourage you to revisit your view on X as we discuss these issues more in class.”

“I’d appreciate it if you’d consider using a different term because it is inconsistent with our course agreement regarding X…”

When practiced, the ACTION framework can be a tool that is quickly retrieved out of your mental toolbox to organize your thoughts and unpack the microaggression in a way that addresses the situation and cools down tension.

When students make comments that are microaggressive in the classroom, doing nothing is a damaging option (Souza, Vizenor, Sherlip, & Raser, 2016). Instead, we can engage thoughtfully and purposively in strategies that maintain a positive climate that is conducive to learning and models the skills needed in responding to microaggressions in any context (Souza, 2016).


Source: Responding to Microaggressions in the Classroom: Taking ACTION


Related contents:

“Neurobiology of Escalated Aggression and Violence”. Journal of Neuroscience. 27 (44): 11803–11806. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3500-07.2007. ISSN 0270-6474. PMC 2667097. PMID 17978016.Buss, A. H. (1961). The psychology of aggression. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.Wahl, Klaus (2020).

The Radical Right. Biopsychosocial Roots and International Variations. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 47. ISBN 978-3-030-25130-7. OCLC 1126278982.Wahl, Klaus (2013).

Aggression und Gewalt. Ein biologischer, psychologischer und sozialwissenschaftlicher Überblick. Heidelberg: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag. p. 2. ISBN 978-3-8274-3120-2. OCLC 471933605.

Aggression: Its causes, consequences, and control. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.McEllistrem, Joseph E. (2004). “Affective and predatory violence: A bimodal classification system of human aggression and violence”. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 10 (1): 1–30. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2003.06.002.

Relational Aggression Among Students Principal Leadership, October, copyright the National Association of Secondary School Principals

“International Court May Define Aggression as Crime”. The New York Times.Nathaniel Snow

Violence and Aggression in Sports: An In-Depth Look (Part One) (Part 2Part 3) Bleacher Report, 23 March 2010

Journal of Psychiatric Research. 41 (6): 488–92. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2006.04.009. PMID 16765987.Barbara Krahé (11 February 2013).

The Social Psychology of Aggression: 2nd Edition. Psychology Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-136-17772-9.Elizabeth Kande Englander (30 January 2003).

Understanding Violence. Psychology Press. pp. 55–86. SBN 978-1-135-65676-8.Merriam-Webster: Aggression Retrieved 10 January 2012

Online Etymology Dictionary: Aggression Retrieved 10 January 2012Stearns, D. C. (2003).

Anger and aggression. Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood: In History and Society. Paula S. Fass (Ed.). Macmillan Reference Books

Developmental Origins of Aggression, 2005, The Guilford Press.

“Numerical assessment affects aggression and competitive ability: A team-fighting strategy for the ant Formica xerophila”. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 273 (1602): 2737–42. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.3626. JSTOR 25223670. PMC 1635503. PMID 17015327.

Lethal intergroup aggression leads to territorial expansion in wild chimpanzees”. Current Biology. 20 (12): R507–8. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.04.021. PMID 20620900. S2CID 6493161.Issa, F. A.; Adamson, D. J.; Edwards, D. H. (1999).

Dominance hierarchy formation in juvenile crayfish procambarus clarkii”. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 202 (24): 3497–506. doi:10.1242/jeb.202.24.3497. PMID 10574728.

“Individual Variation in Social Aggression and the Probability of Inheritance: Theory and a Field Test” (PDF). The American Naturalist. 167 (6): 837–52. doi:10.1086/503445. hdl:10871/26263. PMID 16615035. S2CID 12094679.

Aggression and Peacefulness in Humans and Other Primates ISBN 0-19-507119-0

Evolution and the psychology of intergroup conflict: The male warrior hypothesis”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 367 (1589): 670–9. doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0301. JSTOR 41433544. PMC 3260849. PMID 22271783.uss, D.M. (2005).

The murderer next door: Why the mind Is designed to kill. New York: Penguin Press.

“The evolution of aggression”. In Schaller, M.; Simpson, J. A.; Kenrick, D. T. (eds.). Evolution and Social Psychology. New York: Psychology Press. pp. 263–86.Briffa, Mark (2010).

“Territoriality and Aggression”. Nature Education Knowledge. 3 (10): 81.Archer, John (2009).

Does sexual selection explain human sex differences in aggression?” (PDF). Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 32 (3–4): 249–66, discussion 266–311. doi:10.1017/S0140525X09990951. PMID 19691899.

The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, edited by David M. Buss, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005. Chapter 21 by Anne Campbell.[page needed]Zuk, M. “

Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can’t Learn about Sex from Animals.” University of California Press, 2002[page needed]


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These Psychologists Found a Better Way To Teach People To Spot Misinformation

A strong defense against online misinformation may be to administer a digital vaccine: Exposing yourself to common deception methods may help you recognize sensationalized headlines, misleading TikToks, or social media fabrications in the future. In collaboration with Google and its tech unit Jigsaw, a team of psychologists added short videos to YouTube’s ad lineup, educating people about how to spot common misinformation tactics.

In an online campaign, they found these clips were an effective way to get people to identify what’s real and what’s fake news. People who watched the videos were better able to identify misinformation techniques than those who didn’t see the clips, as the team reports in a study published in the journal Science Advances today.

“It’s very possible on social media to reduce vulnerability and susceptibility to being manipulated,” says Jon Roozenbeek, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and the lead author of the study. “Maybe not all misinformation, but you can demonstrably improve people’s ability to detect when they’re being manipulated online.”

Misinformation happens when people spread false information, even if it wasn’t the person’s intention to mislead others. Misinformation happens regularly in our daily lives, says Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist who was not affiliated with the study, and it can be something as small as misremembering something you saw on television and telling someone else the wrong information.

“You can think of it as analogous to the childhood game of ‘telephone,’” explains Romanoff, in which small errors become magnified through repetition. But through the megaphone of social media, wrong or misleading claims can become a harmful way to distort the truth.

Anyone can fall prey to misinformation online, Romanoff says, though people who click on a story consistent with their pre-established beliefs are more susceptible. Being prone to impulsivity and feeling an overload of information could also make you more likely to spread fake news.

The current study focuses on inoculation theory, where people learn about these types of misinformation techniques. Roozenbeek compares this theory to a vaccine: Introducing a weakened virus or virus-like material primes your immune system to recognize and destroy the pathogen in the future. Unlike fact-checking, which takes a more retroactive approach, inoculation theory stops people who are exposed to misinformation from spreading the content in the first place.

“The idea was to inoculate people against these tropes, because if someone can successfully recognize a false dichotomy in content they’ve never seen before, they’re more resilient to any use of that particular manipulation technique on social media,” Roozenbeek says.

Roozenbeek and his team created five 1.5 minute videos covering common tactics used in online misinformation. To avoid any bias towards one group of people, the videos were designed to be nonpolitical, fictitious, and humorous. In the lab, the team invited over 6,000 participants to randomly watch either a video showing how to identify misinformation techniques or a neutral video that acted as a control. Afterward, the participants were shown 10 made-up social media posts that were manipulative or neutral.

Roozenbeek then partnered with Google to expand the study. As part of a public ad campaign on YouTube, nearly 23,000 people watched one of two anti-misinformation videos. One video involved negative and exaggerated emotional language to encourage clicks and belief in fake news (Sample headline: “Baby formula linked to horrific outbreak of news, terrifying disease among helpless infants. Parents despair.”).

The other one relied on presenting two points of views or facts as the only available options (The headline: “Improving salaries for workers means businesses will go bankrupt. The choice is between small businesses and workers. It’s simple mathematics.”).

Within a day of seeing the video ads, one-third of people who watched the videos were randomly given a test question on YouTube where they were asked to identify the type of manipulation technique in a headline or sentence. People who watched the videos were better able to pick out misinformation techniques and misleading content.

“Finding a significant effect was actually quite surprising,” Roozenbeek says. This is because unlike a controlled laboratory setting, people on the internet can get easily distracted by other ads and videos. Additionally, there is no guarantee people actually watched the videos. While the videos were not allowed to be skipped, people could have turned off the sound or moved to another tab. “But despite all that, we still found a large and robust effect.”

Roozenbeek and other psychologists are wrapping up another study that looks into how long it takes for people to forget what they’ve learned from the videos. “It’s not reasonable to expect someone to watch a video once and remember the lesson for all eternity. Human memory doesn’t work that way,” he says.

Ongoing results suggest ‌people might need a ‘booster shot,’ in the form of repeated video reminders. Another project in the works will use Twitter to see how watching these videos affects people’s behaviors, specifically how much they retweet misleading content.

To stay vigilant against misinformation as you scroll through the internet, Romanoff warns about these six common tactics:

  • Fabricated content: Completely false or made-up stories
  • Manipulated content: Information is intentionally distorted to fit a person’s agenda
  • Misleading content: A person deceives others, such as presenting an opinion as a fact
  • False context of connection: A person strings together facts to fit the narrative they are trying to convey, such as new stories using real images to create a false narrative of what happened
  • Satire content: A person creates false but comical stories as if they were true
  • Imposter content: A story is created through the branding and appearance of a legitimate news story, but is false such someone creating a video using someone else’s logo to seem legitimate

Source: It’s possible to inoculate yourself against misinformation | Popular Science

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This Is Where We’re Most at Risk From Toxic Microplastics

Australians are eating and inhaling significant numbers of tiny plastics at home, our new research shows. These “microplastics”, which are derived from petrochemicals extracted from oil and gas products, are settling in dust around the house. Some of these particles are toxic to humans — they can carry carcinogenic or mutagenic chemicals, meaning they potentially cause cancer and/or damage our DNA.

We still don’t know the true impact of these microplastics on human health. But the good news is, having hard floors, using more natural fibres in clothing, furnishings and homewares, along with vacuuming at least weekly can reduce your exposure.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are plastic particles less than five millimetres across. They come from a range of household and everyday items such as the clothes we wear, home furnishings, and food and beverage packaging. We know microplastics are pervasive outdoors, reaching remote and inaccessible locations such as the Arctic, the Mariana Trench (the world’s deepest ocean trench), and the Italian Alps. Our study demonstrates it’s an inescapable reality that we’re living in a sea of microplastics — they’re in our food and drinks, our oceans, and our homes.

What we did and what we found

While research has focused mainly on microplastics in the natural environment, a handful of studies have looked at how much we’re exposed to indoors. People spend up to 90% of their time indoors and therefore the greatest risk of exposure to microplastics is in the home. Our study is the first to examine how much microplastic we’re exposed to in Australian homes. We analysed dust deposited from indoor air in 32 homes across Sydney over a one-month period in 2019.

We asked members of the public to collect dust in specially prepared glass dishes, which we then analysed. We found 39% of the deposited dust particles were microplastics; 42% were natural fibres such as cotton, hair and wool; and 18% were transformed natural-based fibres such as viscose and cellophane. The remaining 1% were film and fragments consisting of various materials. Between 22 and 6,169 microfibres were deposited as dust per square metre, each day.

Homes with carpet as the main floor covering had nearly double the number of petrochemical-based fibres (including polyethylene, polyamide and polyacrylic) than homes without carpeted floors. Conversely, polyvinyl fibres (synthetic fibres made of vinyl chloride) were two times more prevalent in homes without carpet. This is because the coating applied to hard flooring degrades over time, producing polyvinyl fibres in house dust.

Microplastics can be ingested by various animals, ranging in size from tiny creatures like zooplankton to sharks and whales. The likelihood of microplastics being eaten is influenced by the amount in the environment and how closely they resemble food. Laboratory studies indicate that microplastics can potentially transfer through the food web when marine, terrestrial and freshwater species that have previously ingested microplastics are preyed on by other animals.

Microplastics eaten by larger marine animals will generally pass through their bodies. However, research does show that microplastics can be retained in the gut for extended periods where they may cause abrasion and damage to internal tissues. Nanoplastics can pass through the gut wall and travel to different parts of the body, such as the lungs and liver, where they can cause damage. Further research is required to understand the potential health implications from ingesting microplastics.

Microplastics can be toxic

Microplastics can carry a range of contaminants such as trace metals and some potentially harmful organic chemicals. These chemicals can leach from the plastic surface once in the body, increasing the potential for toxic effects. Microplastics can have carcinogenic properties, meaning they potentially cause cancer. They can also be mutagenic, meaning they can damage DNA.

However, even though some of the microplastics measured in our study are composed of potentially carcinogenic and/or mutagenic compounds, the actual risk to human health is unclear. Given the pervasiveness of microplastics not only in homes but in food and beverages, the crucial next step in this research area is to establish what, if any, are safe levels of exposure.

How much are we exposed to? And can this be minimised?

Roughly a quarter of all of the fibres we recorded were less than 250 micrometres in size, meaning they can be inhaled. This means we can be internally exposed to these microplastics and any contaminants attached to them.

Using human exposure models, we calculated that inhalation and ingestion rates were greatest in children under six years old. This is due to their lower relative body weight, smaller size, and higher breathing rate than adults. What’s more, young children typically have more contact with the floor, and tend to put their hands in their mouths more often than adults.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about plastic pollution?

More than 90% of plastic is never recycled, and a whopping 8 million metric tons of plastic waste are dumped into the oceans annually. At this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. The Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) is a collaboration between businesses, international donors, national and local governments, community groups and world-class experts seeking meaningful actions to beat plastic pollution.

In Ghana, for example, GPAP is working with technology giant SAP to create a group of more than 2,000 waste pickers and measuring the quantities and types of plastic that they collect. This data is then analysed alongside the prices that are paid throughout the value chain by buyers in Ghana and internationally. It aims to show how businesses, communities and governments can redesign the global “take-make-dispose” economy as a circular one in which products and materials are redesigned, recovered and reused to reduce environmental impacts.

Children under six inhale around three times more microplastics than the average — 18,000 fibres, or 0.3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per year. They would also ingest on average 6.1 milligrams of microplastics in dust per kg of body weight per year. For a five-year-old, this would be equivalent to eating a garden pea’s worth of microplastics over the course of a year. But for many of these plastics there is no established safe level of exposure. Our study indicated there are effective ways to minimise exposure.

First is the choice of flooring, with hard surfaces, including polished wood floors, likely to have fewer microplastics than carpeted floors. Also, how often you clean makes a difference. Vacuuming floors at least weekly was associated with less microplastics in dust than those that were less frequently cleaned. So get cleaning! Some pollutants and heavy metals can also adsorb or stick to plastic surfaces. As a result, plastics can act like sponges in the environment, passively collecting chemicals onto their surfaces.

While plastics can remove some persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from the surrounding water, there is concern about what happens when plastics containing these adsorbed pollutants are ingested by animals. The ability of some POPs to bind to plastics is particularly concerning due to their toxicity at low doses. These toxic and persistent chemicals are widely distributed in the marine environment and are readily concentrated onto plastic surfaces at up to 1 million times the concentration than in the surrounding water.

Studies have shown that these chemicals can transfer from ingested plastics to animal tissue where they can become concentrated within the animal and transfer through the food chain. Plastics are beneficial to human health through their use in medical applications and for protecting our food and beverages. Plastics have revolutionized healthcare through improving sterility by the use of disposable syringes, gloves, IV tubes and catheters and providing increased comfort with hypoallergenic medical devices, heart valves, and flexible prosthetics (artificial body parts).

Plastic bottles and containers provide a way of distributing water that is safe to drink in locations where there are major issues of water contamination. Plastic packaging limits food and beverage spoilage through microbial contamination. It is likely that we are ingesting some level of plastics in our diet. A rapidly growing body of research is showing that ongoing accumulation of toxins associated with plastics poses a risk to our food safety and public health. However, the levels of plastics and associated chemicals we are exposed to in our diet compared with other everyday activities has not been assessed.

Source: This is where we’re most at risk from toxic microplastics | World Economic Forum

More contents:

Microplastic Ingestion by Zooplankton”

Where Does Marine Litter Come From?”

Chemical mapping of tire and road wear particles for single particle analysis”.

“Plastic free July: How to stop accidentally consuming plastic particles from packaging”

Development solutions: Building a better

“Proceedings of the International Research Workshop on the Occurrence, Effects and Fate of Microplastic Marine Debris”

Annual variation in neustonic micro- and meso-plastic particles and zooplankton in the Bay of Calvi (Mediterranean–Corsica)”

Restricting the use of intentionally added microplastic particles to consumer or professional use products of any kind”.

Microplastics have spread right to the sea bed, study finds 

90% of table salt is contaminated with microplastics, according to a new report

The water where baby fish are outnumbered 7 to 1 by plastic

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9 Ways Empathy Helps With Inner Growth

Empathy can be best defined as the trait or skill of understanding, sharing, recognizing, and even feeling the emotions, thoughts, and experiences of those around you or those who you see. It is often a crucial skill in developing healthy relationships, moral or ethical decision-making, prosocial behavior, and compassionate attitudes.

Simply put, empathy denotes an ability to walk in the shoes of another person. It can be a complex trait to develop, and some people may believe that empathy is harmful. After all, feeling the pain of others can become tiring. But in moderation, this skill is a fantastic way to improve yourself while helping others. Here are nine ways empathy helps with inner growth.

1.    Empathy Reduces Stress

You may have noticed people who are empathetic seem to experience less stress. Considering how research has shown that stress accuses all sorts of diseases, it raises the question – how does empathy help?

  • It teaches emotional regulation skills.
  • Relating to others in positive ways teaches
  • It engages in our ability to control and handle our emotions in a healthy manner.
  • It helps us recognize where and when we may be feeling stressed or emotional, thanks to observing and empathizing with our loved ones.

Empathy can be best defined as the trait or skill of understanding, sharing, recognizing, and even feeling the emotions, thoughts, and experiences of those around you or those who you see. It is often a crucial skill in developing healthy relationships, moral or ethical decision-making, prosocial behavior, and compassionate attitudes.

Simply put, empathy denotes an ability to walk in the shoes of another person. It can be a complex trait to develop, and some people may believe that empathy is harmful. After all, feeling the pain of others can become tiring. But in moderation, this skill is a fantastic way to improve yourself while helping others. Here are nine ways empathy helps with inner growth.

As you can imagine, this helps you become an emotionally more stable person in the long run – indeed a fundamental thing to any future growth and maturation you wish to experience!

2.    It Improves Your Ability To Communicate

Communication isn’t as simple as an exchange of words. After all, think about the many times you find yourself constantly misunderstood, no matter how hard you try. As it turns out, empathy can teach you how to express yourself better! This outcome is because:

  • You learn how to see, feel, and think from the other person’s perspective.
  • You’ll better understand how your words and thoughts may be interpreted by others.
  • You can tailor your expression of your thoughts and emotions to the individual you’re communicating with, so they can understand you better.
  • You can limit misunderstandings and miscommunications by seeing how the other person would process information from their point of view.

Indeed, you may notice that all of these positive benefits first require you to listen better and understand the other person before you can explain yourself in a way that truly resonates with them. This is why empathy is so important!

3.    It’s Good For General Survival

Historically speaking, being social creatures is the critical reason for our species’ continued survival – and despite how much has changed socially, this hasn’t changed on a fundamental level! Empathy allows us to:

  • Pick up on nonverbal cues that indicate something is amiss
  • Tune in immediately to a situation the second someone starts acting strangely
  • React appropriately to a life-threatening situation you haven’t seen yet, just from the behavior of others in the area
  • Pay attention to abnormal atmospheres or facial features that suggest something is wrong

These examples may sound dramatic, but they can be applicable in all sorts of places – from recognizing when a bar fight is about to erupt to paying attention to a loved one who seems to be quieter than usual.

No matter which way you slice it, empathy may be the critical thing that saves you or your loved one’s life.

4.    It’s Good For Your Health

How are empathy and your physical health related to each other? They’re more intimately intertwined than you might think. Various studies have shown a positive correlation between the ability to handle stress – a source of many health issues – and high levels of empathy.

This is because of empathy:

  • It encourages us to form close bonds that form the basis of our support network.
  • Teaches us how to form healthy coping mechanisms when trying to manage stress.
  • It assists us in paying attention to our bodies as an extension of learning how to observe those around us.
  • Reduces depression and anxiety levels as we communicate and empathize with our loved ones.
  • It helps us create healthy boundaries so we can avoid picking up second-hand stress and negative emotions.
  • Encourages positive thinking and mindsets via reconnecting to the world around us.

This ultimately leads to a better psychological and physiological state, resulting in a much better health and immune system. Not to mention, it’s easier to take care of yourself when you’re mentally and emotionally more stable and healthy!

5.    It Can Guide Your Moral Compass

Normally, we learn empathy and emotional regulation in childhood – something that research has shown is important for our development. But that doesn’t mean our journey stops there!

As we grow older and meet new people, we must continue to learn and adapt to the changing world around us – and in this aspect, empathy is an essential tool. For example, it:

  • It helps us re-evaluate our core values and morals
  • Shapes and guides how we care for others and how we expect to be cared for
  • It shows us how to take care of those around us
  • Encourages us to strive for a better understanding of those we love

In other words, empathy can actually help us reshape our foundational understanding of the world and our relationship with it. This is important, as it can lead to us growing both mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as we strive to meet the needs of our loved ones!

6.    It Connects You To Others

Ever found yourself just sitting there, unsure as to how to respond to someone else? Empathy is actually a vital and helpful tool in this regard!

How so? Research has shown that empathy is responsible for helping us better understand and respond to a loved one’s actions – both in the present and for potential future actions. Here are a few ways how it mentally preps you and encourages you to form positive relationships:

  • It helps us feel and better understand what the other person is experiencing.
  • Teaches us how to reciprocate and make the other person feel seen and heard.
  • It assists us in forming and nurturing intimate bonds where both sides can feel safe and vulnerable.
  • It encourages us to listen to those around us truly and really take the time to be there for them.

The final result? We end up learning not just about experiences we couldn’t otherwise have possibly gotten on our own, but also will likely end up with a close and personal relationship with the other person!

Over time, you will likely find that this sort of behavior cultivates deep, intimate connections that can bring you a sense of peace and stability – an incredibly vital foundation for any further inner growth you wish to achieve.

7.    It Helps Prosocial Behavior

We are only human, so it’s natural to want close, intimate, and meaningful bonds. In fact, it is hardwired into our very DNA – we wouldn’t have gotten this far without that desire to bond with those around us, after all. As you can imagine, this means that the ability to empathize is crucial. This is because it:

  • It teaches us how to become more compassionate and caring
  • It’s crucial to our ability to communicate and connect with others
  • It encourages us to care for and help each other
  • Assists us in being kind and understanding to others around us
  • It tries to make us see things from a different point of view

From there, we then learn how to adjust our behavior and actions to ensure we are doing our best to love and care for those around us. This can then ultimately lead us to create the relationships so fundamental to our emotional and mental wellbeing!

8.    It Fights Burnout

There is some irony in how, in an increasingly connected world, we feel even more lonely. And with that loneliness comes all sorts of mental health struggles and burnout as we struggle with work on our own. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

A study has shown that those workers who are empathetic actually deal with less burnout – something you might find interesting! Here’s how empathy can help you achieve these outcomes:

  • It guides us in how we can communicate with those around us.
  • Assists in the development of soft skills that are crucial to handling conflicts with others.
  • It teaches us how to ensure both sides feel seen and heard.
  • It helps us connect and form meaningful relationships with others.
  • Encourages us to create social networks that can inversely support us in our times of need.
  • Promotes positive thinking as we pull from the experiences of others around us.

With the development of better communication and conflict-management skills, you may find yourself becoming a more emotionally mature and understanding person as you rise against the challenges life throws at you. And it’s all thanks to empathy!

9.    It Improves Your Work

With just how helpful it is when you’re trying to both listen and to be heard, it’s no wonder that empathy forms a core aspect of communication – a vital skill in any team-based work. But there’s more to this than just better communication. Empathy also helps:

  • Negotiating with others to create a solution that meets everyone’s needs and desires
  • Encourages teamwork when trouble-shooting issues
  • Creates an environment of respect and trust
  • It makes people feel valued and involved in any project
  • It makes for a smoother transition and workflow, as you are already paying attention and anticipating the quirks and workstyles of those around you

As you can imagine, these aspects are all super helpful when you’re working on any team-based project. And these skills are transferable too! You can just as easily apply these positive benefits to both your work and your personal life and watch your relationships become better for it! Final Thoughts On Some Ways Empathy Helps With Inner Growth

Empathy is a valuable trait, yet it may seem like it is rapidly declining in today’s world. This can seem discouraging, and some may even worry that being empathetic may open them up to feelings of pain and discomfort.

The lucky truth is that this is not the case. Empathy is crucial for your inner growth and can actually make you stronger, healthier, and more resilient. If you struggle with developing empathy for others, you can speak to a mental health professional for help.


Source: 9 Ways Empathy Helps With Inner Growth | Power of Positivity



Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states. Types of empathy include cognitive empathy, emotional (or affective) empathy, somatic, and spiritual empathy.

Empathy is generally divided into two major components:

Affective empathy

Affective empathy, also called emotional empathy: the capacity to respond with an appropriate emotion to another’s mental states. Our ability to empathize emotionally is based on emotional contagion: being affected by another’s emotional or arousal state.

Cognitive empathy

Cognitive empathy: the capacity to understand another’s perspective or mental state. The terms social cognition, perspective-taking, theory of mind, and mentalizing are often used synonymously, but due to a lack of studies comparing theory of mind with types of empathy, it is unclear whether these are equivalent.

Although measures of cognitive empathy include self-report questionnaires and behavioral measures, a 2019 meta analysis found only a negligible association between self report and behavioral measures, suggesting that people are generally not able to accurately assess their own cognitive empathy abilities.

Somatic empathy

6 Psychologically Damaging Things Parents Say To Their Kids Without Realizing It

Parents don’t set out to say hurtful or harmful things to their children, but it happens. You’re tired, they’re pushing your buttons, and you’re frustrated after asking them for the 600th time to clear their plates or get out the door on time. You could also be inadvertently repeating things you heard in your own childhood that your parents (and maybe even you) didn’t realize took an emotional toll.

We parents are trying our best, but sometimes — a lot of times — we fall short. That’s why it can be helpful to know some of the potentially damaging phrases parents often resort to without realizing their impact. It’s not about beating ourselves up. It’s about doing better by being a bit more conscious of our language.

So HuffPost Parents spoke with several experts who shared some harmful phrases you should try to erase from your vocabulary — and what to say instead.

1. “It’s not a big deal.”

Kids often cry or melt down over stuff that seems really silly. (Recall the delightful “reasons my kid is crying” meme that had a real moment a few years back.) But while kids’ crying and whining can definitely get under their parents’ skin — particularly when it’s over something you think they should be able to cope with — it’s harmful to diminish their very real feelings by basically telling them to buck up.

“These little problems — and the emotions that come with them — are actually huge to our kids,” said Amy McCready, a parenting educator, the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of “If I Have to Tell You One More Time.” “When we discount their emotional responses to very real challenges, we tell them, ‘How you feel doesn’t matter,’ or ‘It’s silly to be afraid or disappointed.’”

Instead, try this:

Take a moment and try to understand things from their perspective. McCready recommended saying something like: “You seem really scared or frustrated or disappointed right now. Should we talk about it and figure out what to do?” Ultimately, you’re helping them label their emotions (an important part of developing emotional intelligence) and making it clear that you’re there for them.

2. “You never” or “You always do XYZ.”

Children have their patterns, but saying your kid “always” or “never” does something simply isn’t true. (That’s why marriage counselors advise clients to avoid the word “never” with their partners altogether.)

Using broad statements is a red flag that you’ve stopped being curious about what’s happening in this particular moment with your child, according to Robbin McManne, founder of Parenting for Connection.

“It misses opportunity for you to teach them what they should and what they can do next time,” McManne said.

Instead, try this:

Remind yourself to be curious about why your child is engaging in a particular behavior at a particular time. It really helps to connect by getting physically close to your child in that moment, McManne said, so that you’re not shouting at them from across the house, but you’re right there with them to make sure they’re not distracted by something else.

3. “You make me sad when you do that.”

Sure, it might really bum you out when your child doesn’t listen, but it is important to set (and hold) boundaries without throwing your emotions into the mix. Those feelings are yours, not theirs. Plus, you’re setting a precedent by potentially giving them a lot of negative power.

“When kids feel like they get to decide if you’re happy, sad or enraged, they may happily take the opportunity to continue to push your buttons down the road,” McCready said. “And even when they’re out of your house, this mindset can damage future relationships and set the stage for them to manipulate others to get what they want.”

Instead, try this:

Set whatever boundary you need to set, like, “It’s not OK to jump on couches,” McCready offered by way of example. Then, give some choices such as, “Would you rather play quietly in here or go outside?”

4. “You should know better.”

When you say something like “you should know better,” what you’re ultimately trying to do is guilt or shame your child into changing. But that puts kids on the defensive, which makes them even less likely to listen, McCready said. It also undermines their confidence.

“If we tell our kids they should know better — yet clearly they didn’t — we’re sending the message, ‘You’re too dumb/immature to make a good decision.’ Not exactly what we intended,” she added.

Instead, try this:

McCready suggested saying something like “Hmm, looks like we’ve got a situation here! What can we do to fix it?” The goal is to focus on solutions — not the problem — so children practice problem-solving and fixing their own mistakes, and think about ways to make better choices in the first place.

5. “Just let me do it.”

When you’re rushing out the door or waiting for your child to complete a simple task that is seemingly taking forever, your instinct might be to just take over. But try to avoid doing that if you can.

“You’re telling your child, ‘You’re not capable of this, so I need to get involved.’ This is both discouraging and really frustrating,” McCready said. “Imagine if you were super close to being able to do your own zipper and just needed a few more tries, but then Dad swoops in and stops you in your tracks.”

Instead, try this:

Slow down and give your child the time they need to complete their task. Or at the very least, be clearer about why you have to rush. Say something like, “I’ll help you just this once since we’re running so late, but let’s work on this together later!”

6. “You’re a [insert label here].”

One of the most valuable things parents can do for their children is simply avoid labeling them, McManne said. Labels hurt the parent-child relationship because they get in the way of parents seeing their children as struggling and needing help. Parents start to link certain behaviors with whatever label they’ve given to their child, rather than digging in and really trying to understand what’s happening developmentally.

“Labels take us further out of compassion and curiosity,” McManne said.

Labels also have the potential to become self-fulfilling. If children hear from parents that they’re a certain way, they might come to accept that as true — even if it doesn’t feel true to them.

Even labels that seem positive like “You’re smart!” can actually be harmful, McCready said.

“When we say ‘you’re smart’ or ‘you’re athletic,’ we’re telling our child, ‘The only reason you did well on that test is because you were born brainy,’ or, ‘You wouldn’t have made that goal if it weren’t for your natural ability.’ What’s more, if our child bombs the test next time, they’ll be left confused and discouraged, questioning their own ability. If they’re so smart, why did they fail?”

Instead, try this:

Notice and applaud effort, not outcomes. And do whatever you can to avoid labeling your kiddo as anything, good or bad.

Catherine Pearson - HuffPost

Source: 6 Psychologically Damaging Things Parents Say To Their Kids Without Realizing It | HuffPost UK Parenting



A dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect or abuse on the part of individual parents occur continuously and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions. Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such a situation is normal.

Dysfunctional families are primarily a result of two adults, one typically overtly abusive and the other codependent, and may also be affected by addictions (such as substance abuse, such drugs including alcohol), or sometimes by an untreated mental illness. Dysfunctional parents may emulate or over-correct from their own dysfunctional parents. In some cases, the dominant parent will abuse or neglect their children and the other parent will not object, misleading a child to assume blame.

Some features are common to most dysfunctional families:

  • Lack of empathy, understanding, and sensitivity towards certain family members, while expressing extreme empathy or appeasement towards one or more members who have real or perceived “special needs”. In other words, one family member continuously receives far more than they deserve, while another is marginalized.
  • Denial (refusal to acknowledge abusive behavior, possibly believing that the situation is normal or even beneficial; also known as the “elephant in the room“.)
  • Inadequate or missing boundaries for self (e.g. tolerating inappropriate treatment from others, failing to express what is acceptable and unacceptable treatment, tolerance of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.)
  • Disrespect of others’ boundaries (e.g. physical contact that other person dislikes; breaking important promises without just cause; purposefully violating a boundary another person has expressed.)
  • Extremes in conflict (either too much fighting or insufficient peaceful arguing between family members.)
  • Unequal or unfair treatment of one or more family members due to their birth order, gender, age, family role (mother, etc.), abilities, race, caste, etc. (may include frequent appeasement of one member at the expense of others, or an uneven/inconsistent enforcement of rules.)


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