Hello Mind! You sometimes lead me to dead end corners where the same tune plays over and over. I get sick of it…Why won’t you listen to my pleas to stop? I know, I know. Old tunes take a while to get out of circulation. But now, it is a new time, with new rules, new openings and paths.
So we have lived through almost a year of an invisible virus interfering with our lives. It has disrupted the usual workflow, the social engagements, the physical activities, the cultural events and for a lot of people, their livelihood. It has cost many losses of family, friends and neighbors. Some of us have not been able to grieve those losses. Some worry about having enough money for rent, mortgage, gas or food. It is a really challenging time and there is really one way to deal with it: We have to take it day by day, survive the hardships, while we focus on what might be positive under the circumstances. It is resilience that gives us the strength to handle it all. What can bolster that trait is our emotional need to connect with others, to show empathy, and to be kind.
Human kindness is a highly evolved trait. We evolved to lower testosterone levels; emotionally expressive faces, larger eye whites to understand each other’s feelings better so we can work together. However, we live in an online world, much more so now than a year ago. The more time online, the less empathic we become. A University of Michigan study shows that between 1979 and 2009, average young adult’s empathy for others was 75% less. I wonder how that percentage would turn out now?
We also know that group standards affect empathy even though it is hard-wired. So the recent increase in tribalism is a huge obstacle to it. As we all deal with the current challenges, we need to be sending the message to our minds that we need others, and they need us to weather this storm. The simple thank you to the clerk who is stocking the grocery store shelf, the hello to people you see on the street, the wave to the postal worker will not take much effort but may make a difference to that person.
So Mind! Help me deal with this new path. Block the dead ends. Show me brightly lit, warm leads of more pleasant and productive ways of seeing others around me!
“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.
Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577