147. Extending Compassion with Janina Scarlet and Sara Schairer

Many of us are struggling during this time of COVID-19 and police brutality. It can feel hard to extend compassion to those with different views, let alone to ourselves. In this episode, psychologist and creator of Superhero Therapy, Dr. Janina Scarlet, shares her origin story that led from exposure to Chernobyl radiation as a child to immigration to bullying to discovering her calling: helping people with emotional pain become the heroes of their personal journeys. A major element of her Superhero Therapy is practicing compassion.

Remembering to apply these useful skills can be a challenge. That’s where the founder of the non-profit Compassion It., Sara Schairer, comes in. Sara shares her inspiring story of how she created a worldwide social movement to teach and spread compassion. Janina and Sara talk with us about extending compassion even to those with whom we disagree, and why this matters, especially right now. And Sara leads us in an experiential compassion practice. 

Listen and Learn

  • What Superhero Therapy is
  • What Compassion is and how we can join the compassion mission
  • How we define compassion
  • Why compassion toward others, including those with whom we disagree, is important
  • A helpful compassion exercise

About Dr. Janina Scarlet

Dr. Janina Scarlet

Dr. Janina Scarlet is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, a scientist, and a full-time geek. A Ukrainian-born refugee, she survived Chernobyl radiation and persecution. She immigrated to the United States at the age of 12 with her family and later, inspired by the X-Men, developed Superhero Therapy to help patients with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Dr. Scarlet was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights award from the United Nations Association for Superhero Therapy. She is the author of “Superhero Therapy,” “Therapy Quest,” “Harry Potter Therapy,” “Dark Agents” Superwomen,” and “Supernatural Therapy”. 

About Sara Schairer

Sara Schairer is the founder and executive director of Compassion It®, a nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions and attitudes. 

Sara Schairer

A facilitator of the Compassion Cultivation Training® (CCT) course developed at Stanford University, Sara has led trainings for audiences of all walks of life, from corporate executives to inmates at a maximum-security prison. She also led compassion trainings in Africa sponsored by the Botswana Ministries of Health and Education and spent a week at a Rwandan refugee camp working on unleashing compassion within its health care system.

Sara is a contributing author to the book The Neuroscience of Learning and Development: Enhancing Creativity, Compassion, Critical Thinking and Peace in Education, and writes for Deepak Chopra’s Center for Wellbeing website.

Sara gives talks and leads experiential workshops on burnout prevention, implicit bias, mindfulness, and compassion. She also created the one-of-a-kind reversible Compassion It wristband that prompts compassionate actions on six continents, 50+ countries and all 50 states.


Join the discussion

  • Hello there!

    I LOVED this episode! I’m beginning a Psy.D. program this Fall and Dr. Janina’s work was fascinating to me and resonated well with my dissertation idea and my potential future in research!

    I was also wondering if I could get a link to the study referencing militant Islam and compassion – mostly because I am curious, from a perspective of research, on how we can broaden people’s horizons for compassion. I thought the dialogue that followed between the three of you was extraordinarily thoughtful and truly humble and kind. 🙂

    Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

  • Hi there!

    Just following up since I haven’t seen a response yet – I would appreciate it if you can put me in the direction of that piece of research. 🙂

    Thank you!

  • No worries – I greatly appreciate the link! This is going to be very interesting and useful!

    Thank you so much!

  • This episode made me think about many Americans, stuck (comfortably/happily?) in their political in-groups (I’m so glad Janina brought this point out), unable or unwilling to extend compassion across party lines, even disowning family and friends because they can’t get past it. The disgust and hatred that shows up is so disheartening and frustrating to me, especially since I see politically motivated in-group identity being prioritized above individual health–the anti-vaxers perpetuating the pandemic. Sara is so right that we can still lead by example and try to come from a place of understanding. Thanks for this powerful discussion Jill. Lots of good tools in this one!

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Episode 147