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Old 02-16-2007, 06:45 PM   #1
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So do you find it difficult to put yourself in someone elses shoes? Do you think you can truly put yourself in their shoes and know what it feels like to be them? To be a woman? A man? Someone with a different skin color?

Or do we fool oursleves into thinking we have understood someone elses point of view so we can push our own ideas to the forefront?
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Old 02-16-2007, 07:20 PM   #2
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Great thread...

I try and put a very conscious effort into doing so. Of course you can never fully do so, but I feel empathy is a very important aspect of relating to people.

I come from a very conservative household, I have friends from all walks of life, I try and experience as many aspects of life I can, I've attended several different types of churches, etc... I try and use this to put myself in the shoes of the person I'm relating with.

Sometimes it is hard, and sometimes it's easy to forget to do so...
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Old 02-16-2007, 07:29 PM   #3
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I honestly feel like I do my best to be empathetic, but, there are times where it's well near impossible. I've read as much as I can on religions other than mine. I ask questions of people from backgrounds different than mine. I try to be respectful of everyone's culture, background, ethnicity, orientation, etc. But, I'm sure there are times I've snapped or rushed to judgement without considering the plight of others, and I'm sure it will happen again, despite my strong desire to not do that.

We all see things through our own unique prism, and it's hard to not let our experiences, surroundings, upbringing, etc, impact our views. But, it's healthy to try.

I come from a diverse borough in a diverse city, and I think that has helped me be more concious of this, or so I hope.

I don't think I ever "fool myself", I just think sometimes I try and fail.

Anyway, just my 2 cents, did not really say anything all of you will not hold to be self evident, I'm sure.
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Old 02-16-2007, 07:29 PM   #4
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yep, i agree. i probably fail miserably especially given the fact that i reckon the key to really mastering empathy is to just shut the hell up and really listen to what someone says. to understand someone of another colour, we truly have to hear what they are saying. to understand the hardships of crushing poverty, we really need to listen to the description from those who live it. etc. we can only imagine what something is like so much. how much we can grasp an idea of depends on how well we can listen to those who live it.
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Old 02-16-2007, 09:06 PM   #5
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Damn. I though I was going to get to discuss my love of my Blunnies.

(I did kinda wonder why it was in FYM though.... )


But to answer one of the questions: No I can't truly put myself in anyone else's shoes, and I don't think anyone really can either. Some people are more willing to try than others, but I will never know what it's like to be male or another race, no matter how empathetic I am or how hard I try.
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Old 02-16-2007, 09:39 PM   #6
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You know my parents used to tell me all the time, you can't carry the world on your shoulders. This has been since I am about 4 years old. I have an incredible talent for putting myself in someone elses shoes and having such a great amount of empathy for it that it almost paralyzes me where there is nothing I can do about it.

Its been literally like living in an igloo here, I have this tremendous guilt of having a warm house. I have tried to locate a shelter here where I can help or something and the only thing I have been able to do is give a way coats to those who need them. I have even gone as far as to buy some and give away.

My husband also says I am good at feeling for the victim of circumstances.
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Old 02-17-2007, 12:29 AM   #7
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I am limited in the shoes I can wear and consequently stay out of an increasing number of threads. But often enough, if someone is descriptive enough, it can resonate with me and I can find commonality with something I've experienced and I can say "Oh".

Sometimes I can get into somebody's skin immediately and intensely, sometimes it takes a long time and sometimes it never happens. And sometimes I'm there for the briefest of moments and then lose it entirely. I've seen many people capable of sympathy. I don't see a lot of people capable of much empathy. It goes beyond imagining what it is like to be a different gender, color, orientation, etc. For me, when I can feel empathy, it has to be person to person. What does that PARTICULAR person feel, think like?

It is doubly hard for me to be empathetic to groups, but if I can feel empathetic to another person, it extends. And sometimes it means actually feeling yourself inside their body, to dismiss as much of yourself as you can.

I've been arrogant enough to think I could and projected my opinions, myself on people. I still do it sometimes. But I'm objective enough to know how often I've been dead wrong. (And objective enough to know sometimes I've been dead on.)

Empathy is a hard game, one mostly of questions when we like answers better.
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Old 02-17-2007, 04:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by JCOSTER
You know my parents used to tell me all the time, you can't carry the world on your shoulders. This has been since I am about 4 years old. I have an incredible talent for putting myself in someone elses shoes and having such a great amount of empathy for it that it almost paralyzes me where there is nothing I can do about it.

As a child I wanted desperately to be black. I was 8 years old when I wrote my first paper on MLK and I felt very uncomfortable with being a WMA.

I cried myself to sleep many of nights worrying about the homeless, the people of Africa, and others when I was young. My parents actually sent me to a psychologists to see what was wrong with me, because I stopped eating and told my parents to send the food to Ethiopia.

I carried the weight of the world on my back, I think it's one of the reasons I realated with Bono's lyrics early on... Now that I'm older, I still carry the weight, but in a much different way.
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Old 02-17-2007, 07:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


As a child I wanted desperately to be black. I was 8 years old when I wrote my first paper on MLK and I felt very uncomfortable with being a WMA.

I cried myself to sleep many of nights worrying about the homeless, the people of Africa, and others when I was young. My parents actually sent me to a psychologists to see what was wrong with me, because I stopped eating and told my parents to send the food to Ethiopia.

I carried the weight of the world on my back, I think it's one of the reasons I realated with Bono's lyrics early on... Now that I'm older, I still carry the weight, but in a much different way.

wow, that is amazing being so conscious as a child.
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Old 02-17-2007, 08:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by redhotswami



wow, that is amazing being so conscious as a child.
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Old 02-17-2007, 08:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


As a child I wanted desperately to be black. I was 8 years old when I wrote my first paper on MLK and I felt very uncomfortable with being a WMA.

I cried myself to sleep many of nights worrying about the homeless, the people of Africa, and others when I was young. My parents actually sent me to a psychologists to see what was wrong with me, because I stopped eating and told my parents to send the food to Ethiopia.

I carried the weight of the world on my back, I think it's one of the reasons I realated with Bono's lyrics early on... Now that I'm older, I still carry the weight, but in a much different way.

Oh how I can totally relate, I also used to pack up belongings and try to send them to people who needed them
but I was only like 6 or 7.

My 7 year old seems to be on a similiar trail not to the extent of you and I but its still a trail.

After 9/11 I felt so badly for the people that lost loved ones and could imagine how they felt that I cried for weeks and went into a depression thus me missing the first round of the elevation tour.
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Old 02-18-2007, 01:24 AM   #12
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That kind of passion can be a great blessing if channeled constructively, however, I'm not sure it automatically grants greater understanding of divergent viewpoints and perspectives. Of course the reverse is also true; good understanding doesn't necessarily bestow a drive to alleviate suffering.
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
Or do we fool oursleves into thinking we have understood someone elses point of view so we can push our own ideas to the forefront?
All the time. Particularly if there's something about their point of view that seems threatening...that makes it tempting to do a sweeping snap diagnosis of where they're "really" coming from. That's not to say someone who's truly made their best effort to understand won't or shouldn't necessarily push their own ideas to the forefront anyhow. But in general it's far too easy to make the end justify the means.

I'm not really sure if you more had in mind empathy, which is an emotion, or 'open-mindedness/fairness' which is more of an intellectual trait or way of disciplining the mind.
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Old 02-18-2007, 03:05 PM   #13
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Cool thread. It's a good reminder for me that I need to be putting myself in other people's shoes more often.

Thanks, Dread.
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