Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Society & The Empath

In this world there are generally two types of societies. In saying two, though, we are not breaking societies down based on religion, culture, geographics, or by any other means one might think of. We are simply breaking them down into two branches: Communal & Individual. And this is also true for smaller communities, like subcultures and social cliques.


By Communal, we mean that people work for the benefit of an entire community, primarily focusing not on individual interests but on the betterment of the group as a whole. This is shadowed by the secondary focus of Individual needs, wants and desires.

Within the Communal society, there is a tendency for people to lean toward setting their own wants and needs aside or, as we said before, making them secondary to those of the community at large. What this means is that concerns are largely focused externally toward a greater whole, and when the community suffers, so to do the individuals within that sphere. Likewise, when the community benefits, each member directly and indirectly derives benefit from it, as well.

Now what is the ultimate goal of a Communal society? Harmony, balance, and living in peace. That is to say, when all of the members of a society mutually benefit, there is a kind of harmony, peacefulness, that permeates the people within its sphere. And this sense of peace can move beyond levels of status, personal power, and individual desires.


By Individual, we mean that people who are grouped together work toward the betterment of individual needs, wants and desires, with a secondary focus being that of the Communal needs of the Community.

The Individual society, in contrast to the Communal Society, tends to allow far more latitude where personal needs, wants, and desires are involved. That is to say, people are allowed to become more readily focused on their individual successes, specialized skills, and personal identities, which would set them apart from others within their respective communities.

At the same time, it would also lessen the direct impact an individual might suffer if the community as a whole, that they are associated with, were forced to endure or suffer deprivation of some sort. That is to say, the impact of this suffering would be greater for the whole, than for the individual who is more readily focused on personal issues. And thus, its effect might only be felt in an indirect way.

What is the ultimate goal of an Individually oriented society? First and foremost, it is about personal achievement and the development of individual talents and abilities. Through this diversity, it is believed that the whole (the community at large) will directly and indirectly benefit from the individual's achievements. So its focus is not one of peaceful harmony, like that of the Communal society, but on individual happiness. Basically, the happier the individual people are, the happier the overall society is.

The Crossover

Now what is the point of all of this, you might be wondering? I want you to think about the society you live in right now. And then I want you to think about the kind of person you are.

Do you live in a largely Individualistic society? And are you someone who is more oriented toward empathy for others? In other words, do you focus more on others and their problems than you do your own? And can you see how this could be a problem for you, if you answered yes to both of those questions?

In this discussion, we will not focus on how a person, who was raised in an Individualistic society, comes to have the personality of one who belongs to a more Communal society. The point is, these people do exist. And they tend to have an internal battle constantly waging within themselves because of the conflicting pressures they feel within themselves and from the outside world at the same time.

Internally, they long for peace, not necessarily happiness. They wish for everyone around them to get along. Individual skills and abilities, personal dreams and desires, and even basic needs sometimes, become secondary to the driving need to be of service to others...all with the ultimate goal of achieving some kind of peace.

Alot of the time this is because the people in question are hypersensitive to the emotions and/or emotional states of others. This heightened awareness of those around them, shifts their focus from themselves to that of others. And in so doing, their personal motivation changes from personal happiness to peace.

Now add to this persistent internal driving need, the societal pressures to preform, to achieve, and to add their uniqueness to the collective society in which they dwell and you come up with an internal struggle. Because the person in question is not built to focus on and develop themselves in this way. They are built differently.

And in this internal cataclysm such things like depression, anxiety (social) even to the point of agoraphobia, and extremely low self esteem can ensue because these people are often left with a sense of being misunderstood, judged harshly, or simply seen as an utter failure to the world around them.

Does this speak to everyone who suffers from depression, low self esteem and/or anxiety? Not at all. Does this speak to everyone in general? Certainly not. Is this an excuse for poor or irreverent behavior? No. Does this place any kind of blame on the people in question, the people around them or the society at large? No.

This is simply one set of environmental and societal criteria which may come into play as part of an overall issue a person, who is hypersensitive to the emotions and emotional states of others, might face. And certainly, when we say a part of it, there are more issues at hand than just this.

But there are many factors to consider when one does soul searching to discover why they feel the need to isolate themselves from the world, have such low self esteem as to believe themselves unworthy of love and/or success, and are so depressed they might possibly wish to end their lives. Society and environment are as much contributing factors as past traumas like abuse. So its important to be aware of them.

This holds true for not just Empaths and Highly Sensitive People (HSP), but for anyone. So consider it.

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