Wednesday, January 23, 2008

empathy paper

Our interactions with other human beings are some of the most important occurrences within our daily lives. We all hold abilities that range from helping to mend someone to being the driving force that broke a person in the first place. It is because we’ve been entrusted with such power, that we also must deal with the strain of the haphazardly woven responsibilities of the deal/package. Understanding where and how the responsibilities to ourselves and to others come into play is a necessary component for understanding the most basic elements of empathy. Once one has a grasp of such things, the use of empathy can be properly put to use whenever one comes into contact with others.
The simplest definition of true Empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. While there is a concrete meaning behind that word, its real essence and implications are much harder to pin down and implement. The majority of people possess many selfish tendencies when engaged in conversations with another person. The complete list would be a pointless venture, but some examples include focusing the conversation on you only, being overly cruel, and competing over verbal dominance. Such things prohibit any connection from being established and consequently there can be no presence of empathy; no common ground for it to exist on.
The issue of listening relates back to empathy. When most people have a friend or someone close to them they usually try to console them. However, normal methods used for consoling are not empathic in nature. They are instead trying to pacify the person, while the true empathic thing to do would be to help them explore their feelings. If one is aiming to have more empathy for others in life, then this would be the preferred thing to do, but as in everything else in this world, there are some drawbacks. While you do connect to the person on a deep level, you may end up only making their situation worst. Thus the best method you should use is logic – there are times when you will have to pacify someone to help them along and there will be times when true empathy is needed. More than likely, you will know when what is needed.
Touch is also an important element of interacting with others and empathy. It’s where the physical component comes into play. The presence of touch and the lack of it convey how one is feeling to those around them. For example, if someone does what want to be touched then may they jerk away, go stiff, or even curl their body inward onto itself – as if to minimize the amount of space they’re taking up. But when someone wants to be touched, or are just comfortable, their movements become infinitely more open. In contrast to curling up, they may move in rhythm to the other person, or they may even first engage in physical contact with another person first.

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