Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Empathic Reflection

What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? What do you imagine other people see when they look at their own reflections? Lets find out.

The discussion here is called Empathic Reflection. To understand this, first we must understand what a reflection is. So here is the definition:
Something, such as light, radiant heat, sound, or an image, that is reflected. Basically what it is saying is that you see your physical form, as do others, when they gaze in the mirror.

Empathic Reflection, according to this definition, is the exact same thing, except what is reflected is not the physical form, but the internal workings, emotions and motivations. And the mirror, in this case, is you. To put it in even easier terms, you see through their eyes and walk in their shoes. You, on a number of levels, become them for a time.

From here the question arises of how does one practice this part of the Empathic experience? Is it a natural ability that simply 'happens' or does one have to learn how to do it, and then work at perfecting it?

The answer here would be that there is a middle ground. An Empath is gifted with the ability to do this, which you might have heard me call Empathic Shapeshifting other places. But, as with any ability, there are things that can be learned which compliment this ability and enhance it.

Things that help enhance this ability are being extremely observant of the world around you, having a working knowledge of the different types of emotions and how they affect people, a creative imagination, the ability to use Empathic Listening and the ability to see what lays beneath the surface of people's words.

Okay, I know it sounds like alot, but as with all of these discussions, this is nothing new. You may or may not be conscious of all of these aspects within you, but they are there, none the less. So this is more of a reminder, than a lesson into uncharted waters.

Lets look at each tool needed for Empathic Reflection:

The first tool is being extremely observant of the world around you. What this means is that you are a people watcher. You watch social interactions between people. You watch people when they believe they are alone (out in public of course), and let their guards down. You watch television and movies, and read books. You listen to highly emotionally charged music. You watch the world and you learn.

In turn, this helps raise your awareness of the different types of emotions which exist and how they motivate people. Tears from a girlfriend elicit apologies from boyfriends. Angry stand-offish faces make people avoid that person, so as not to become cannon fodder. Babies or really cute animals elicit gentle smiles and looks of adoration, even from strangers. Hysterical screams elicit fear in people and alert people to danger.

In observing, you unconsciously make a catalog of all of these things which is then stored in your mind. Then when something directly affects you, you have this knowledge to fall back on. Someone has a stand-offish face at you, then you automatically know, because of this catalog, that this person is angry with you. And that same catalog tells you the best way to respond to get through that tense moment. You go through all of these process in a split second, without even realizing it. And yet, this is your base for understanding Emotional Intelligence.

A creative imagination is necessary to help facilitate this process, because it better enables the Empath to visually see through another person's eyes. It does not leave one with that third person perspective, which leaves one watching from a distance. Instead it brings you up close and personal with the person who is talking to you. It humanizes their experiences in a way, you could not get from a third person perspective. It puts the Empath directly in the middle of the fray, as it were.

Creative imagination is facilitated by Empathic listening. Hearing what they are saying about their problem and/or situation fuels the imagination, like a good novel written in first person does. Empathic listening offers you minute details, which are important to the story which is unfolding in your head. Otherwise, it might not be a complete story.

And then, we come full circle. Through Empathic Listening, we arrive back at the catalog of emotions we discussed earlier. By paying attention to the minute details, we are able to tell when someone is not being completely up front and honest with us. Or if perhaps, they have left out singularly important details which are pivotal to the story. An example would be a woman leaving out the fact that she physically assaulted her husband before he stood up and left her. And why she got divorce papers soon there after.

Your job, is to ferret out those minute details that are left out to save face. You will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, because of these tools, that this story is incomplete and that you are missing an important piece to the puzzle before you. So you ask questions. You get to the heart.

The ability to discern this and come up with the questions necessary, rise out of your gift of Empathic Reflection.

Truly, its not as hard as it sounds. I would even be confident enough to say that each and every one of you is already proficient in doing it. Now, its all a matter of understanding the how and the why of it. ^_^

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