Friday, June 5, 2009

The Morality Of Empathy

When one thinks of Empathy, they do not necessarily think of morality, do they? But from one's own personal moral base rises the intent which focuses our empathy in the direction we wish it to go, whether that is to help, heal, or harm another person. So it is important to understand how personal morality (or lack there of) connects with your intentional use of Empathy when interacting with other people. Like always, lets look at some definitions to help illuminate the meaning of this particular topic.

The Definitions

Empathy is the capability to share your feelings and understand another person's emotions and feelings. It is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes" or "seeing through they eyes of another person".

1. Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.
2. The attribution of one's own feelings to an object.

. good moral conduct
2. the degree to which something is morally acceptable
3. a system of moral principles

has three principal meanings. In its first, descriptive usage, morality means a code of conduct which is held to be authoritative in matters of right and wrong. In its second, normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions. In this "prescriptive" sense of morality as opposed to the above described "descriptive" sort of sense, moral value judgments such as "murder is immoral" are made. In its third usage, 'morality' is synonymous with ethics.

1. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.
2. moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.
3. that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

The field of Ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior.

1. the quality of not being in accord with standards of right or good conduct
2. morally objectionable behavior

1. Not admitting of moral distinctions or judgments; neither moral nor immoral.
2. Lacking moral sensibility; not caring about right and wrong.
3. Being outside or beyond the moral order or a particular code of morals

Unrelated to moral or ethical considerations.
Having no moral or ethical standards; lacking a moral sense.

1. something that is intended; a plan, idea, or purpose
2. Law the will or purpose to commit a crime
3. to all intents and purposes in almost every respect
4. having one's attention firmly fixed
5. strongly resolved on

A Psychic Vampire is a term used to describe a living person who "drains" others emotionally either empathically (draining the auric life force) or metaphorically (someone who takes emotionally without giving anything back; a "user"). Chronic psychic vampires generally are not aware that they are stealing energy from others.

The Unaware

Who are The Unaware? The Unaware are any persons or groups of people who unknowingly project their emotions onto others, feed off other people's projected emotions/energy, and/or are so focused in the drowning sensation of theirs and/or others emotions that they can not see beyond their own misery.

To clarify here, there are those who do these things knowingly, but that is not what we are focusing on in this part of this discussion. Instead, these people are wholly unaware that they are doing any kind of harm to another person through their emotive skills and actions. In other words, there is no intent to harm. In saying this though, it is not a validation for their behavior, because ignorance is no justification for harming others through these methods, whether there is intent or not. Another way of looking at this stage of development is to say it is nonmoral, because it is lacking in the moral sense of right and wrong in correlation to the behaviors attributed to the person's gifts.

The Newly Awakened

Who are The Newly Awakened? The Newly Awakened are those who have begun to realize that what is happening inside of them, whether we are talking about the taking on of other people's emotions or the siphoning of other people's energy, isn't just a fiction they see on television or read about in books. But even this new awareness, there are no morals and/or ethics to balance it out. In other words, there is no focus and control for this ability.

This is a time of learning for the Newly Awakened, where in they begin to test their boundaries and push their limits to see how far they can go with it. Inevitably, during this time, some get will get hurt. And within this scope of time, the intent of the Newly Awakened will be a mixed bag, some unintentional done, like accidents, and some intentionally done, like revenge for a wrong against the Newly Awakened. Another way of looking at this is that it is amoral, because it lays aside conscious moral consideration of right and wrong in the objective of new discoveries.

At this stage, as well, there is no real purpose for the gift, at least through the eyes of the Newly Awakened, other than it being a cool toy. They are also probably still suffering in the same way as the Unaware, in being overloaded and overwhelmed with emotions and/or energy.

The Developmentally Aware

So once the Newly Awakened grows weary of this suffering and the shine has dissipated from their gift/curse, they will go in search of more than just a word to define themselves (Empath, Psy Vamp, etc.). And what they are searching for are answers, ways to cope with their gift in the short term, and most importantly, ways to balance themselves in the long term. A person in this stage is called The Developmentally Aware.

This is the part of the journey to awareness where a person can feel so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available that they begin to push it all away in the hopes of escaping. But lets face it, there is no escape. If a person, who is at this stage, runs away the only thing they will bring down upon themselves is more suffering and misery, because they, as yet, do not have the coping skills needed to stave off the overwhelming feeling of drowning which often comes with the first to stages in this discussion.

The best remedy for this problem is to stop seeing the big picture, or all of the information you feel you must take in at one time. Instead, it is better to look at one thing in any given moment, and then give yourself time to really understand its meaning and assimilate it into your own life. This is because there is no set timetable to learn all there is to know on these subjects. And there is no wrong or right way of ingesting this information, despite what others might say to the contrary.

This is also the phase wherein the Developmentally Aware person begins to feel the repercussions and consequences of their actions from the two previous stages, because through study and conscious understanding, they begin to form their own personal set of morals and/or ethics which pertain to their gift. And in so doing, they begin to review their past behaviors to see what actions go with or go against their new found code of ethics. Inevitably when one reviews the past, emotions like guilt, shame, sorrow, embarrassment, and of course, depression can rise up.

This, like the overwhelming amount of information available to the Developmentally Aware person, can also cause a gigantic brick wall to form in their path, which effectively halts their journey forward. Unlike the information dilemma though, this issue must be dealt with head on through self analysis. One must find a way to accept, within themselves, the good and the bad, in action, thought, and emotion. The Developmentally Aware person must accept their regrets and mistakes, while at the same time learning to let them go.

Why, you ask? Because this is the nature of the roadblock in your path. The only thing holding a person at this stage back, is themselves. And the only one who can set that person free, is themselves.

The Balanced

Who are The Balanced? The Balanced are those people who have overcome that final obstacle that stood in their path. They are those who have laid shame and regret aside through the act of accepting themselves in their totality, good and bad. They live in the now with hopes for the future, instead of walking in a slow progression of shuffling feet with chains of their past regrets anchored to their feet, weighing them down.

For most people, this type of person is probably hard to imagine, much less fathom. This is because it is hard to perceive anyone letting go of their abuse of others, abuse perpetrated on them, feelings of vengeance and anger, and the shame and regret which rises out of past misconduct. But there you have it, all the same.

This is the type of person who can use their gifts at will, and almost never walk away from its use feeling depleted of energy or overwhelmed by others, whether it is one on one or in a crowd. This is also the type of person who is able to balance a healthy self worth with the need/calling to help others. It is purpose, which the Developmentally Aware Person first discovered a longing for, with balance.

The Process

Did you note how similar the stages of empathic development are to those of a human growing from infancy to adulthood? The Unaware can be related to infancy. The Newly Awakened can be likened to early childhood. The Developmentally Aware can be compared to that of adolescence. And The Balanced can be a metaphor for adulthood.

This is why, in a very peculiar way, when you reach the last phase, it is as though you have been reborn. It is so all encompassing that it includes a transformation in how you think, as though your mind had been rewired, how you see the world, and how you interact with it.

But it is not an easy journey. There are no loop holes or easy ways to achieve this end. It is painful at times, because it forces you to face one of your greatest in your totality. And it is not merciful. It will not offer you a hand to help you stand up, because that would defeat the purpose of facing your fears.

But even with all of that being said, it is worth every cut and scrape you may get along the way. Because you, all of you, are worth the journey.

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