This self-help manual teaches the basics of behavioral change through a careful, compassionate program based on being fully present when interacting with others.
Drawing upon her extensive experience in nursing, hospital administration and health-care practice, Donadio presents a practical manual illustrating how to change one’s behavior through a system she calls “Behavioral Engagement.” For all relationships, central to this method is “pure presence”—a state of being fully present when communicating with others, while dropping any preconceived notions of how the other person should or will act. Pure presence helps the participant utilize a nonjudgmental connection based on positive, empathetic emotions, shifting away from anxiety associated with compulsive and destructive behaviors. Among the techniques Donadio offers her readers are the maintenance of soft eye-focus during social interactions, listening to others with receptive patience and respecting patches of silence during conversations. Conveying to others how much you respect their self-directed decision-making process is one of several noteworthy, often overlooked practices. By employing these skills through the step-by-step instructions in each chapter—accompanied by questions that prompt critical self-reflection—Donadio believes readers can alter behavior in order to benefit from integrating various emotions and actions in a new light. Several studies (some referenced in the book’s footnotes) support her conclusion that this system of Behavioral Engagement can create sustainable behavioral change. Written in a simple, convincing style familiar to followers of pop psychology—though without the shallow oversimplifications rampant in much of that genre—Donadio presents a solid if not strikingly original case for the transformative power of receptiveness as she capably synthesizes principles drawn from diverse sources, such as Carl Rogers and Buddhist meditation. The sole weakness of her book is the familiar, persistent depiction of America’s burgeoning health problems that she believes, optimistically, Behavior Engagement can help overcome. Much of the text portrays those circumstances, although deeper descriptions of her therapeutic method would have been welcomed instead. Nonetheless, a few graphs and colorful cubist illustrations help break up the black, white and sometimes gray areas in the study of human interaction.
Recommended as a top-tier psychological self-help manual that cogently systematizes the benefits of compassion and empathy.