Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Changing Perspectives ~ Mine, Yours, Ours

So the title of this group is called Empathic Perspectives. The reason behind this name is that Empaths are able, quite readily, to change perspectives when they are connected with another person. They are able to see through the other person's eyes, and vicariously feel what they feel.

But to truly understand what a perspective is, we need to explore more than just our own and that of another person. We must broaden the scope we see through, to include everything around us. So here is where we are going to explore a couple of them to give you an idea of what is meant by an all encompassing perspective.

At our base, we start out with our own perspective, which is the lens we use to view the world around us, and the filter we use to judge those around us. Filters are important because they influence how we view things and people. They color our views with prejudices, as well as, the things we come to find endearing. As well, we use what we are taught through information and observation to judge things. A cat is a cat because this is what you were taught when you were younger to call it. A black cat might end up being shunned based on the superstitious prejudices that color your filter of perception. And all of this is done in the blink of an eye, without any conscious thought directed to it. You see the cat, and you automatically think cat. As soon as you see its color as black, you automatically push away from the thing that offends.

Now, we move onto another perspective ~ that of the other person. Within this group, we've been over this particular shift in perception a number of times. As the other person speaks, you are able to flow into their perspective and see through their eyes. Or it might not rise out of words at all. It might rise out of the way they look at you, or a feeling you get from them, even without speaking. How you come to see through their eyes is of less importance than the shift of perception itself. The point is, you know how to do it, even without conscious thought.

From here we move onto a view that most find rather uncomfortable, because it encompasses a wide spectrum of perspectives at once. These include, but are not limited to, family perspective, community perspective, political perspective, state perspective, country perspective, humanitarian perspective, global perspective. Of course there are more, but that isn't really the point. The point here is that the perspective is able to broaden to encompass all of these things. All of these things, including the sharing of another single person's perspective, are called shared perspectives, and on a larger scale are called the communal perspective.

So now that we have some basic idea of what different types of perspectives there are ~ personal, shared, and communal~ you wonder, now what?', right? Here is what i want you to think about. When you shift into another perspective, whether its sharing a political view with another person, or sharing their perspective in order to help them, what prejudices tint the filter you see and work through? What brings you to the conclusions you draw in order to help someone else? What training do you draw from to form your opinions.

Alot of people say that they have no idea where the answers come from, and when they appear in their mouth they are as surprised as the other person at how healing their own words are. But all of the answers to understanding how you do something are already within you. You just don't realize it. So thinking about how the process works brings it to life for you. It makes it a tangible tool that can be utilized at will, instead of something you do that mystifies you as much as the other person when it occurs.

Lets look at a few examples of this, shall we?

1. You come from a family which was strictly religious, which, as you grew into adolescence, made you push away from it until the point where you believed in deity, but didn't actively practice the beliefs of any particular religion. At the same time, when you reached your early twenties you got into several relationships which were emotionally destructive and physically abusive.

You meet someone in your mid twenties who you befriend. You seem to just click with this person (gender is irrelevant). And then one day you sit down with them for a cup of coffee and their life story begins to flow out of them, though they didn't mean for it to happen at all. They tell you that they to have been in turbulent relationships, and are in fact in one now. They also tell you, that because of their past issues they have joined a church which is very strict in their beliefs. And this brings them much joy.

How do you react? What prejudices will tint the filter through which view this person? Will you unconsciously push away from them because of their religious beliefs? Will you feel closer to them because you have both been abused, each in your own individual way, and you can understand the feelings and fears of one another?

2. You are a parent, and you are active in your community. You help out at a homeless shelter. And you teach special needs children part time. You devote all of your energies to helping others, whether it is your own children or people in your community.

You meet a woman in the homeless shelter who has track marks up and down her arms. She is distant and sometimes apparently on drugs. But one day she calls you over to talk, while she is eating a free meal that the shelter offers. And she begins to tell you her story. She says that she has two children that are in foster care. She says that the oldest one was abused by one of the men she allowed to sleep over at her house, when the child was younger. And that she neglected them to the point of starving, when foster care finally came in to get the children. Then she tells you she wants to get her children back, because she is pregnant with a third child, but does not know who the father is.

What do you say to her? Do you wrinkle your nose up in disgust and walk away from her? Do you try to help her, despite the obvious drug abuse, because she is pregnant? Do you become flustered and overwhelmed and pass her case onto someone more qualified to help her? What prejudices tint the filter you view her through? What lessons, learned early in your life, will influence how you treat her?

These are just two examples of a list that could go on forever. They may be situations you will never encounter in your life, but the questions about your reactions are still important. Because it might not be that friend or that drug addicted mother, but it will be someone. And understanding how you will react, helps you to alter those reactions in order to better help other people.

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