Archive for the 'empathy' Category


clean slate

clean slateHow does disrespecting someone build a relationship?

This was a question I was asking myself as I listened to someone tell a roomful of people that they don’t know anything about what they do.  For me, I immediately shut down, realizing that even if I should speak or try to have a discourse with them, they would not hear me.  The irony was that the purpose of the meeting was to learn about how to collaborate and build good working relationships.

Once I recognized that they just needed to feel like they had a voice and needed to be heard (not necessarily by me, but by what/who I represented-a wound from their past), I was able to let go and be silent.  However, does that give them the right to immediately through me into the same category as the other negative experiences they had?  And also disrespect me without even taking the time to get to know me?

All of this brings me back to the simple desire for us to be understood and empathize with one another.  Our world would be a much better place if we could all see things from more than one perspective.  How do we do this?  Listen.  But also share with respect and patience.  However, there are also times when one needs to be noisy and act with immediacy; this too needs to be done with respect and specificity.  Once we start throwing around generalities at a large majority, we will most likely not be heard.

So how can we share our wounds in a respectful way which does not negatively impact new and potential relationships?  How can we start each relationship with a clean slate?  We need to figure this out because our future depends on it.


What would you do?

what would you doWhat would you do if…?

This is a question asked by many about a great many different things.  However, can anyone of us really answer it until we go through the actual experience ourselves?  Once in a situation, our feelings may change as it becomes personal and threatens our own world.  Outside that world, it can be difficult to know what to expect of oneself in times of crisis or other circumstances.

Thankfully, this can work in a positive, as well as a negative way.  What I mean by that is, for instance, when faced with losing my husband or dog, I’ve always thought I would panic.  I’m an extremely emotional person and figured that I would be ruled by them and not able to function.  Surprisingly, I have found that in the immediacy of the situation, some other innate strength takes over and brings great focus to care for the problem/emergency at hand.

I discovered this again today as we took our dog into the vet.  She has not been herself for the past couple of days, and with the cancer always threatening to return, we feared the worst.  However, I refused to think beyond the immediate future and was glad that I did because it turned out that she is suffering from arthritis.  This can be treated and we can now bring her relief.  As difficult as it is to think about losing her, an inevitable fact, I’ve come to the place where all I want to do is give her the best quality of life, for however long that may be.

It has been a strange process and one that I never could have expected myself to take.  One never truly accepts death, at least I find that hard to believe, but at the same time I’ve come to put my feelings aside, stop living in fear and waiting, and live a love-filled life.  Easier said than done as scares like this come up and trigger all of those old emotions, but in the day to day, I’ve learned how to let go and simply live.  I didn’t think I could do that in the face of this threat to life as I now know it, but here I am, with the strength I need for today.

So what would you do?  I guess we won’t know until each of us arrives…


empathy or ethnocentrism?

empathy or ethnocentrismFreedom of speech is a powerful tool.  However, can a lack of accountability cause the loss of respect or even empathy for one another?

Today in my sociology class we were talking about ethnocentrism.  Soon, this conversation led to the activity on the internet and how with this open platform, we can all become critics.  The professor mentioned the use of sociology in exploring the reasons why society evolves as it does.  This made me wonder if and why society has lost empathy as a result of the internet and if this is why so much negativity manifests itself there.

The professor prodded me further and asked why I thought this was the case.  I answered that I believed it was because the internet provides a certain anonymity which allows people to say things they would not otherwise say to someone’s face.  Although the internet has connected us and brought us closer together, it has also enabled us to remain distant and inflict insult/judgment on each other without consequences.

Perhaps there has always been this amount of negativity and lack of empathy throughout generations.   They just never had the opportunity to voice it as we do today.  However, it does make me fear that current and future generations may have a difficult time learning how to build healthy social skills which encourage ethnocentrism.  Though the internet exposes us to a vast diversity of people, does it also teach us to accept and respect those differences or simply give opportunities to freely criticize each other?

Freedom of speech is a powerful tool.  So how can we use it to build our society rather than tear one another down?