Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, Compassion: Terms Thrown Around These Days

What do they really mean and why are they important?

FDR Memorial July 2012 ©Delightfully Different Life

FDR Memorial July 2012 ©Delightfully Different Life

Psychology Today identifies emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. I would argue that we are all responsible for our own emotions, but that there are some responses that are more socially acceptable when responding to others’ emotions. This is where some with special needs might need help. You can refer back to my post at Special-Ism.com about recognizing and teaching kindness for this.

The New Oxford Dictionary defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things. —–Thomas Merton

This is my final post for Special-Ism, so I leave you with the following ways you can be more compassionate and continue to help your children too.

Be kind to yourself. 

  • Allow yourself to have at least thirty minutes a day that are just yours even if you have to take the time in five to ten minutes increments.
  • Use this time for prayer, meditation, a nap, taking a walk, reading, or doing something else that makes your heart sing.
  • Acknowledge that you will make mistakes and forgive yourself when you do.
  • Congratulate yourself when you succeed.

Forgive those who do not understand you and/ or your children.

  • Take a deep breath. Then smile at the man who mutters under his breath when your child meltdowns in the store. Then ignore him and attend to your child. This is not the time to educate the world.
  • Calmly educate the teacher who fails to understand your child. Seek help from the school counselor, your child’s aide or another professional to get through to her if you need too, but remain calm throughout the process even if you have to step back or walk away briefly or call her back.
  • Decide in advance how much to share with your extended family, with  other parents and children. And share only on a need to know bases until your child is old enough to decide how much they want to share. Remember it is his life you are talking about and respect that future adult child.

Seek positive role models for your children.

  • When a person you admire does something that helps others, use their behavior as a positive example.
  • Find community mentors who you trust and who have a reputation of supporting all children.
  • Identify kind, older children with the help of teachers or school counselors and see if they are willing to be mentors.

Find positive and supportive friends for both yourself and for your children.

  • Make time for your friends even if it is only to call them during your thirty minutes of me time to touch base. Everyone needs friends.
  • Help your child to develop friendships when they are small by finding ways they can participate in activities even if they cannot tolerate a four-hour long birthday party. They might go for part of the party either at the beginning or the end.
  • Get to know the parents, so you can encourage these friendships for years to come and so you can verify the kind ones.

Give positive stories more power by sharing them instead of the negative stories.

  • We all get upset with misinformation in the media.
  • Give them less attention and instead share positive stories related to the same topic.
  • Start a campaign to get others to share the positives too.
  • One day we will get through to the media if we stop giving them views for the negatives.

Support other special needs parents. Remember everyone experiences life differently, so if you disagree with them please do so privately and with respect.

  • Support the ones you know in real life by calling them or inviting them for a cup of coffee.
  • Share posts of those you only know via the Internet.
  • Leave encouraging comments.
  • E-mail personal advice if you disagree with them and have a more positive solution to offer.
  • Above all please remember we are all in this together.


“Emotional Intelligence.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. Sussex Publishers, LLC, n.d. Web. 24 Dec. 2012.

Walker, D. S. “How Do You Know? Recognizing and Teaching Kindness.”Specialism. Special_Ism.com, 4 Nov. 2012. Web. 24 Dec. 2012.

Originally posted at Special-Ism.com, 4 Jan. 2013


Is Aloha State in Denial Regarding High Teenage Suicide Rate and Bullying? 2

Da’Nile is more than a river in Egypt! It is a common saying although I added the Hawaiian lingo Da’ for the. Despite support from many around the country, the movie, Bully is only showing in one small theater on Oahu and the media coverage here is appalling. This is despite the fact that a 2008 study showed that Hawaii ranks high in teen suicides and PBS Hawaii noted in 2010 that Hawaii teenagers attempted suicide at more than twice the national average.

The seemly lack of response to Bully and to the victims of bullying by some in our country is disturbing, but it is especially so in Hawaii. Does the media assume that when the DOE released their anti-bullying program in October that this magically solved the problem? I cannot place my finger on the cause. It could be the fact that too many see that the movie does not give solutions to the problem and many have problems with this.

I did too until I realized how much information the Bully Project put together on their site to help solve the problem. I am not linking you directly because the site uses index flash and takes a while to load. It it better for you to go to the site directly. Go to http://thebullyproject.com/ and click Get Tools & Resources to find a wealth of information for parents, students, educators, and advocates that includes guides to help teachers and others use the movie as a starting point for teaching students kindness and empathy. There is much more information too about setting up school programs to address the problem.

Apathetic behavior and failure of those in charge of our schools to accept accountability is a big part of the bullying problem in my humble opinion. It is the thing that still angers me when I think of what my daughter went through. It is a greater danger than anything else. It is only when teenagers feel all hope is lost that they turn to suicide, and it is the apathetic attitudes of the adults in our schools that lead them down this path.

I cannot get my daughter’s former school to apologize to her anymore than I can get others to understand this. Still there is hope. Thankfully there are others who are making a difference. The Dalai Lama visited one local school during his recent visit and honored them for playing a part in making the world a better place. Read about it: Aloha, Dalai Lama – MidWeek.

I have so much more to say about the movie, Bully, but you’ll have to wait until May fourth when you can read about it at Special-Ism.com. I urge each of you to see the movie and visit the site.

“Bully” 3

I was first in line to see it this morning. Initially, it looked like I would be the only one there, but thankfully a few more showed up.

Kindness Matters - Photo of My Car Magnet ©DelightfullyDifferentLife

Kindness Matters! It’s just one of the take away messages of the movie, Bully. It is the message that the kids need to get and that some are getting as they join in the cause to help prevent bullying and to support the victims.

There are more important messages for the adults!

  • Blaming the victim for not telling you is not acceptable especially if you gave them empty promises of protection in the past while they continued to be tormented.
  • Scolding them for not forgiving their tormentor is not helpful either.
  • Apathetic attitudes regarding the severity of the problem are not helpful.
  • Excusing meanness that does not result in bloody noses or broken bones is also inexcusable.

We see teachers, parents, principals, vice principals, law enforcement, and bus drivers letting kids down again and again. One child takes matters into her own hands and threatens her tormentors with a real gun. FYI one boy had threatened to sexually assault this teenager, so it is not like she had not been threatened. I do not condone taking a gun to school, but I do understand why she did it, and I found the sheriff to be offensive when he said that she had no cause for this action because she had not been physically assaulted. He thinks she should be locked up for a hundred years despite the fact that the gun wasn’t fired, and she had never been in trouble previously. You’ll find out her fate if you watch the movie.

I merely hope schools will encourage their staff and students to see the movie.

Three Voices of Inspiration: Promoting Accommodation, Acceptance and Appreciation of Differences 3

What is Inspiration? The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines inspiration as “the act or power of moving the intellect or emotions.” People who work to change the world to a place where we appreciate differences inspire others. They accept the challenge to heal society of its wrongs. They raise their voices to educate others as they work to forgive them for their lack of understanding.

I am among the privileged that heard voices of inspiration recently at the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities & Diversity. Their voices made me realize that they are not the ones disabled; society’s treatment of them gives this illusion. The truth is anyone who fails to see others soul to soul is far more disabled than anyone we call “disabled.” Society is wasting brilliant minds by failing to see this.

There was so much inspiration in one place! Three of the voices that inspired me the most were Keith P. Jones of Soul Touchin, Drew Goldsmith of IamNorm.org, a site that no longer exists, and Laura Nagle of the documentary, Vectors of Autism.

Keith P. Jones has cerebral palsy, but please do not feel sorry for him. He is one of the best voices for advocacy I have ever had the privilege to hear. He gave his presentation to a standing room only crowd while he cracked jokes and told how he handles those who inappropriately invade his personal space. Hint: Never ever ask to pray for him and then pray for the “sins of his mother.” His mother did not cause his cerebral palsy and she is no sinner!

Drew Goldsmith turns sixteen this month, but he has already accomplished much in his young life, so please No Pity when you learn that he is autistic. Not only is he a film creator, he also started a website, “I am Norm” to educate others and change the perception of others about being “normal.” I love this young man and wish him all the best in the future. I know he can go far if society allows him to do so.

Laura Nagle is an Aspie woman who prefers being called an Aspie instead of Autistic because, “That man (Hans Asperger) got us.” I am proud to call her my friend. She found me on Twitter months ago and identified me as a “half-Aspie”, a term I have come to love. The movie Vectors of Autism premiers April 13th in Flagstaff, AZ on the NAU campus. She talks about how society holds people back much more than anything else does. She wants to heal society as do I. She does not like using the word disability and I understand completely. She and other adults give parents a better understanding of Aspie and autistic children in a way that no one else can.