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Compassion Conversation 2

Thanks for joining me for our Compassion Conversation 2. To bring You up to speed, have you read 1 Compassion Conversation yet?…

The limbic (meaning “ring”) system is located in the forebrain and is virtually identical in all mammals. It sits just above the brain stem, with the two structures somewhat resembling a bagel with a finger (the brain stem) passing through it. This “system” is not composed of a single large brain structure. Instead, the limbic system is comprised of a large group of complex and oddly shaped smaller structures surrounding the upper portion of the brain stem. Each structure has an immense number of critically important circuits linking them to one another and to the cerebral cortex. These interconnected structures are intimately associated with our basic drives, bodily temperature control, hormone production, and emotions.~Brain Basics for the Teaching Professional by Kenneth A. Wesson

We discussed in our previous compassion conversation the role our limbic system plays in assigning emotional priority to auditory input and how our desire(s) determines our listening. Basically, we listen (pay attention/heed) to what we “want” to hear–what has Top Emotional Priority to us individually.

To examine our listening skills, perhaps, we should examine our emotional priorities?! Because listening is learning and unless we can broaden our emotional priority (to include concern for others)…our learning (i.e. compassion) and listening will be limited at best.

Are our desires selfish? Unselfish? For example, if #1 (me) is my top emotional priority then i listen/pay attention/learn and/or practice what will benefit #1! or if my top emotional priority is unselfish and/or concern for other fragile-breathing life…i listen (pay attention and learn and/or practice) what will benefit not just myself, but all breathing-fragile life!

This #1 talk reminds me of an old joke a friend told–let’s see if i don’t mess it up: “When you’re looking out for #1, you’ll step in #2!” 🙂

Who likes words/thoughts/behaviors/patterns that degrade and strip us or others of dignity and respect?! Compassion conversation is the usage of words that are thoughtful, non-offensive, a uniting language and uniting behavior of justice.

Compassion is justice for breathing-fragile-beautiful life of value deserving respect, love, comfort, protection, preservation inhabiting our fragile-beautiful-living planet earth. (A mouth-full or ear-full indeed!)

The well-known lexicographer Ludwig Koehler wrote: “There has been, especially in former times, much speculation as to how human speech ‘came into being’. Writers strove to explore ‘animal language’. For animals also are able to express audibly by sounds and groups of sounds their feelings and sensations, such as contentment, fear, emotion, threat, anger, sexual desire and satisfaction in its fulfillment, and perhaps many other things. However manifold these [animal] expressions may be, . . . they lack concept and thought, the essential domain of human language.”

“But what actually happens in speech, how the spark of perception kindles the spirit of the child, or of mankind generally, to become the spoken word, eludes our grasp. Human speech is a secret; it is a divine gift, a miracle.”—Journal of Semitic Studies, Manchester, 1956, p. 11.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Remy Snippe Creative Commons License photo credit 1: T.Kiya

When choosing and using vocabulary of compassion, we deliver a miracle–a GIFT to our hearers!:) Who doesn’t like getting a thoughtful, gift of love?! Who gave you your “first” gift? a parent?

After decades of collaborating to increase child language vocabulary, Betty Hart and Todd Risley spent 2 1/2 years intensely observing the language of 42 families throughout Kansas City.  Specifically, they looked at household language use in three different settings:  1) professional families; 2) working class; 3) welfare families.  Hart and Risley gathered an enormous amount of data during the study and subsequent longitudinal follow-ups to come up with an often cited 30 million word gap between the vocabularies of welfare and professional families by age three.  This number came from the data that showed welfare children heard, on average, 616 words per hour, while children from professional families (essentially children with college educated parents) heard 2153 words per hour.  The longitudinal research in the following years demonstrated a high correlation between vocabulary size at age three and language test scores at ages nine and ten in areas of vocabulary, listening, syntax, and reading comprehension.~The Hart-Risley 30 Million Word Gap Study 1995.

Hart and Risley’s Three Key Findings:

1. The variation in children’s IQs and language abilities is relative to the amount parents speak to their children.

2. Children’s academic successes at ages nine and ten are attributable to the amount of talk they hear from birth to age three.

3. Parents of advanced children talk significantly more to their children than parents of children who are not as advanced.

(I would add: because parent(s)/family provide an abundance materially/physically for their offspring doesn’t necessarily mean they are providing an abundance emotionally, mentally or spiritually for their children!)

The sketch artist and the girlCreative Commons License photo credit: wwward0

Vocabulary acquisition involves talking! Lots of talking! YIPPEE!:) Caregivers, Partners in Wellness and especially Parents– let’s keep talking/using and expanding our (progressive) compassion vocabulary daily in order to help young ones learn love!…

Steven Pinker (1994)–

‘A common language connects the members of a community into an information-sharing network with formidable collective powers.’

We can as –a group of breathing-fragile life:

breath: compassion! think: compassion! speak: compassion! live: compassion…a formidable collective power of LOVE!:)

Mammals with limbic systems typically engage in a long-term investment with their young by remaining with them until their litter are mature enough to survive on their own. These caring parents will also nurse and protect their young even in life-threatening situations. On the other hand, reptilian mothers experience no grief at the loss of any of it offspring and, due to her cannibalistic nature, will often pose one of the first threats to their survival. Similar emotional disconnections occur when mammals have been subjects to a limbectomy. Not only will these animals demonstrate a complete emotional disengagement from their progeny, but their ability to recognize the existence of other members in their pack or troop will also be impaired. Damage to the cerebral cortex will not lead to the slightest decline in one’s maternal instincts. However, damage to or removal of the structures found in the limbic system prompts immediate behavioral changes that promote a disturbing lack of connectedness with others including those to whom one has earlier given life. ~Brain Basics for the Teaching Professional by Kenneth A. Wesson

Compassion conversation keeps us connected/united/engaged: What words make up your compassion vocabulary?! What words can you walk (live/practice) and not just talk? How about:

  • forgiveness
  • kindness
  • mercy
  • generosity
  • hospitality
  • brotherhood
  • patience

*peaceful-picnic living:  Living without fear; giving and sharing in peace together as a global family (brotherhood) of breathing-fragile life not taking or over-consuming anything, but rather respecting nature and our planet/each other…while enjoying an excursion to the country, seaside, etc., on which people bring food to be eaten in the open air–“an informal meal (not just physical food) eaten outside in harmony with nature.”   

Creative Commons License photo credit: kristaguenin

I’m sure YOU can help me expand my compassion vocabulary. What words would you add?! THANKS:)

Compassion Conversation 2

Joan Winifred

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APA Reference
Winifred, J. (2012). Compassion Conversation 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 25 Nov 2012
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