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Southwestern College



Posts by Donna Harrington

Reduce Shame, Enhance Love: Reflections on Self-Love and the Journey to Find It

It was during my second week at Southwestern College, the second meeting of Tuesday’s Psychology of Altruism class, that Ann Filemyr presented us with this lesson: “reduce shame, enhance love.” We talked about feelings of shame and the aching, overwhelming presence it can have in our daily lives. Shame that can continually haunt us whether…
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What is Empathic Presence?

When I started learning to empathize with others, at first, I found myself awkwardly guessing their feelings and needs (often, incorrectly). Gradually, I built my feelings and needs vocabulary, and eventually, I was able to guess feelings and needs more easily and more accurately. However, my empathic reflections still felt somewhat awkward and contrived. I'd…
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When My World Fell Apart

(This piece is based on a journal entry of mine from January, 2009.) The last couple weeks have been very challenging for me. I've been feeling anxious, off-center, low on energy, and afraid. Lots of things have changed in my life all at once. Watching Everything Fall Apart The nonprofit that I've been leading for…
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Letting Go of Control

When we stop trying to control ourselves and others, what happens? Perhaps that depends on the extent to which we're resting in love. When we're resting in love, the distinction between ourselves and others evaporates. We start getting attentive to all needs that arise—both for ourselves and others. When we stop trying to control, we…
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How I Prepare for Sleep

For me, the first step in having a great day is having a great sleep—and the first step in having a great sleep is preparing for sleep. I know I'm going to be asleep for about eight hours—and I know that the last hour or so before I go to sleep is a crucial time…
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Noticing What’s About to Be Born

I'm really liking a practice I've been doing: noticing what's about to be born. This works both alone and in conversation. Alone, this practice goes with reminding myself that I don't know what I'm going to do next. Not knowing makes me curious about it. What actually am I going to do next? I start…
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How to Resolve Conflict by Naming Expectations

I find that naming expectations helps me avoid and resolve conflict. An unnamed expectation is an unconscious, unspoken, implicit "should" or "should not" hanging between myself and someone else. I'm not saying expectations are a problem—shared expectations are the essence of culture, and culture is what allows us to relate with one another easily and…
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How to Make Difficult Experiences More Meaningful

I'm finding I can make difficult experiences more meaningful by using them to cultivate compassion. For instance, let's say I'm feeling lonely—needing more love and companionship in my life. Feeling lonely can be uncomfortable, and loneliness can seem bleak and meaningless. However, I can make my experience of loneliness more meaningful by using it…
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How to Stop Doing Things You Regret When You’re Angry

When I'm angry (that is, "triggered"), I'm often tempted to gain relief from my triggered state by protecting myself in some way—usually, by setting a boundary. The problem with this is that setting a boundary tends to be a unilateral decision that's unlikely to meet the other person's needs for care, consideration, connection, and inclusion—especially…
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10 Tips to Thrive in Grad School at SWC

I make war with what comes in contact with a person's health or happiness, believing that God made everything good..." ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Grad school is a unique, generally rigorous, and ideally outstanding life experience which will push you to your intellectual, emotional, and physical limits. At the end of year one…
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