Russell Kolts is a professor in psychology at Eastern
Washington University. His current research and professional work is
focused upon Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and the application of CFT
in working with emotional difficulties, particularly anger and attachment
Russell hosts the
website, which is the online hub of the Inland Northwest Compassionate Mind Center.
The center is committed to the development and application of
evidence-based practices utilizing the purposeful cultivation of
compassion and mindfulness to promote wellbeing. Sub Conference:
Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action
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How to build a culture of empathy?
1. Increase awareness of how the way we do things in our culture (attempting go motivate others and ourselves by activating a sense of
actively obstructs empathy
2. Actively work to change #1, particularly in politics and advertising.
3. Help people cultivate more connectedness with others
4. Help people cultivate awareness of how their emotions work, and how
to soothe selves when they
are in a state of threat
5. Actively teach empathy skills in schools, in fun, team-building ways
(some of this is already being done)
6. Model it from the top - politicians, teachers, corporate heads,
7. Change the way we do school evaluation
(through testing that has the potential to stress/create sense of threat
in the entire system)
(example of more specific intervention that would speak to number 2).
You'll see a common thread in the above, which is very consistent with
CFT. From our perspective, empathy and compassion are much more likely
to occur in certain conditions (when we feel safe and connected), and quite unlikely to occur in other conditions (when we are feeling threatened or are caught up in the blind pursuit of a
This is complicated by the way evolution designed our brains - which
very much prioritize detecting and responding to threats. So it's
complicated, but the good news is that there are some really powerful
things we can do, both culturally and in terms of personal practice, to
make empathy and compassion more possible, and much more likely.