Tag Archive | empathy

What being “Liberal” means to me.

Being a liberal to me (Democrat for USA and Labour for UK) means I believe in fairness and equality for everyone. After learning a great deal about ancient northern Europeans and ancient British (in the larger sense of the group of islands) in particular as part of the research on my books “Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni” and “Mary Queen of the Scots” I really came to appreciate how completely different our ancestors’ cultures were from their conquerors.

Boudicca artist concept chariot

An artist concept of what Boudicca might have looked like.

For example, they didn’t believe the land, let alone living beings could be owned. Leaders were usually on the community level and either directly elected or inherited their authority from their parents — but completely impeachable by the druids if they proved incompetent or unethical. The whole of those ancient societies was built on fairness, empathy, and cooperation. And when you consider how difficult life was, especially in Britain, it only makes sense. They were so incredibly individualistic and while scrappy (think what you see at football matches today), they really didn’t organize armies and go war. Most of the time they brawled it out a little or went to the druids or their appointed/elected leaders to sort it all out. And when someone was hungry, they were taken care of.

In my opinion, THAT IS THE WAY SOCIETY NEEDS TO BE. So for me, being a liberal means doing everything I can to bring back the values and the social structures that our ancestors had 2000 years ago. People tell me it’s impossible — you cannot undo the damage done by Roman conquest. And while I confess on a language level, we really might be stuck with that legacy, I do believe that the rest is our birth right. Because it’s the right thing to do. We need to stop being calloused towards the suffering of others and resolve ourselves to work together again rather than letting the fat cats pit us against each other. You are my friend and ally — not my rival.

The Human Touch: Thoughts about the Teachings of Esther/Abraham Hicks

I am really into the Law of Attraction.  I believe in and the power that our thoughts make on our reality and what comes to us.

negative emotion is

One of the best known lecturers on The Law of Attraction is Esther Hicks who is allegedly channeling a group of beings collectively known as “Abraham.”  While the advice given is generally sound, I do confess a certain unease at the whole channeling thing; it smacks of a scam, especially given there are books, DVDs, CDs, cruises, seminars, and so forth for sale in great abundance.  People pay lots of money for an audience with Abraham and to get a personalized reading of sorts from them in the hopes of turning their lives around.

In such a context it becomes a bit of a minefield as one searches for truly helpful affirmations and advice from all the clutter.

Abraham Hicks emotionKey to the philosophy taught is that emotions are on a sort of hierarchical scale ranked from good to bad.  These are allegedly arranged by vibration — a high vibration emotion is certain to attract what you really want in the LoA while a low vibration emotion is said to greatly hinder you in manifesting it.

In  general there is a measure of common sense to it.  Obviously if you are hateful and vindictive, you are not going to attract love.  Like attracts like.  So hate bring more hate.  This really is common sense.  It speaks to the core of the law of attraction — you reap what you sow!

But a side effect inevitably comes when you rank order your emotions:  you repress the ones that you judge wrong or inappropriate.  That is to say you still have the emotions because they are part of the human experience. They make us Sentient spiritual creatures.  There is no capacity to love if there is absolutely no capacity to hate as well; the capacity for BOTH is what defines each on both a psychological and practical level.

So to love you have to also be able to hate.  To trust, you have to be able to not trust.  To be honest, you have to possess the ability to lie.  This is also what I find troubling and unrealistic about the ways that Christians talk about God.  If God is ONLY LOVE, COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS, ETC and CANNOT experience those other things as well then is God truly a Sentient and living being and therefore objectively existing at all?  No wonder it is easy for atheists to argue that God was created by humankind and not the reverse!

And so we are brought back to this organization of emotions.  What happens to you psychologically when you tell yourself “I’m only allowed to feel THESE emotions?”  Answer:  you repress the other ones.  This in turn means you put up walls within your mind and spirit which, intentional or not, naturally grow into walls between yourself and other people.  You end up FEELING LESS.  Empathy wanes.  You lose the ability to understand and relate to other people.  This in turn makes you LESS LOVING, LESS COMPASSIONATE, LESS HAPPY.

In cutting yourself off from the emotions Abraham says are bad for you, you ultimately destroy your own humanity and the best parts of yourself. This in turn makes it easier for you to harm yourself and harm others.  It is, after all, the person who feels the least, who is cut off from her or his emotions that is most capable of destructive behavior — to self and others.

permission to walk away

And this is the danger point with Abraham and why it would be perhaps correct to label them as demons or manipulative spirits.

That is not to say that they are completely wrong.  But each assertion needs to be thought about and weighed for its value with a focus on balance.  Instead of arranging emotions from “good” to “bad” recognize that all emotions all important.

I am no longer a Christian, but I see the wisdom in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Abraham would have us believe that if we experience both sides that we are harming ourselves.  In reflection I disagree.  We are only harming ourselves if we 1) repress emotions instead of embrace them or 2) focus our energy on hurtful emotions (and therefore attract more hurt to our lives).

Tulips Bouquet

There are many sources of wisdom and inspiration.  The human experience has no limit to these.  Balance comes from applying wisdom from MANY sources of inspiration — from Christianity, from Judaism, from Islam; from Wicca, from Buddhism and Daoism, from Shamanism, from Asatru, and a thousand voices from across time and space.

Embrace your humanity.  Feel your feelings.  Keep your focus on what you want and always phrase everything positively.  Look honestly at your life and think about what barriers your mind projects between the direction you choose for yourself and achieving it.  Believe and have faith and confidence in your ability to achieve and reach what you focus.  Say “I WILL” instead of “I want.”

The law of attraction is powerful. It is common sense. But even as mindfulness about it offers the potential to bring great good and joy in our lives, how we go about it also makes a difference.  For when we wall up part of our emotions in our pursuit of happiness we ultimately destroy our ability to feel, to connect, and therefore be truly happy.

Reblog: Make Momentum Your Friend

The latest from Abraham Hicks is all about momentum.

Make Momentum Your Friend

Thinking British is the surest way to become British.

Thinking British is the surest way to become British.

“When something really matters a lot, it tends to get really an inordinate amount of your attention.

And when it´s moving into the direction you don´t want it to move, than that inordinate attention increases the momentum.

And the thing that is so confounding about it, to you, that thing that makes you feel that disgust and rage, is – a part of you knows, that it doesn´t have to be that way.

A part of you knows, that you are smarter than this, a part of you knows that if you just could get hold of it and apply yourself in a different way – you could turn it around!

We want you to make MOMENTUM your friend, too!

The thing we so want to convey to you in a way that you can really feel it, is that sliding in opposition to what you want DOES NOT INDICATE BAD CREATION.

It indicates strong determination!

If you really want something, and you are focussed in opposition to it, it´s really really uncomfortable.

If you don´t care at all, then your opposition-thought doesn´t hinder you, at all.

And so, when you feel strong about something, as you do there is very very very good news, in that.

And the good news is:

There is strong, strong, strong, strong, STRONG momentum!

Now we want to help you understand something about momentum!

Because, so far in this conversation, it felt like we´r talking about momentum, that´s taking you into the OPPOSITE direction of where you want to be!

But momentum -ahhhh- momentum is NEVER EVER taking you into the opposite direction of where you want to be!

HEAR THIS!

Momentum is ALWAYS source energy, moving TOWARDS something you really really want!

But in opposite vibration, in opposing personal thought-vibration, the momentum that is really leading TOWARDS where you want to go, feels AWFUL while you are pulling against it!

Now, did you get that??

THIS MOMENTUM -this is not a downward-slide, that you are upon, this is an onward slide, this is the Universe, lining everything up, to give you everything that you want!

THAT´S WHAT´S REALLY HAPPENING!

But where you are standing within it, and almost everybody would understand it – you are pulling in such opposition that it FEELS to you, that the momentum is going in the opposite direction – because you´r taking score of current manifestations instead of understanding the power of the momentum!

It would be a little bit like, if you would be garnering the empathise, that you where going to shoot something far far far out into space- but so far, the rocket hasn´t been launched.

So, it´s just sitting there- in a resistant state!

In other words, it wants to go, but they got it all strapped down, and so it looks like it´s going to tear the whole launchpad up, if somebody won´t cut it loose and let it GO- and THAT´s what we want you to focus on, here!

This momentum, that feels like downward-spiral, is NOT a downward-spiral.

It´s an upward-spiral, that you are not flowing with, yet.

That´s all that it is.”

Abraham Hicks

Mid-night musing: I watch in horror at human complacency

America Poverty CoverI watch in horror the way that human life and human creativity‬ are regarded as worthless. Not since just before the black death swept the world in the 13th to 17th centuries have we seen such a poor regard for life, for human dignity. Books that take years to write are sold for pennies. Music that take 10,000 hours to craft are not even acknowledged as worth paying for. We have an epidemic of complacency, where no one relates to anyone, where everyone takes everything for granted. There is no more thanksgiving to our cultures. There is no more any sort of appreciation for the hardship of others. We are all calloused. We simply no longer care. We want to each live, but few around us respect who we are nor that we should continue to live.

In Star Wars episode I, Anakin Skywalker said, “The problem with this universe is that no one helps anyone.” He was right.

Instead of treating everyone else as “surplus population” we need to understand that there is abundance all around us. We only need to come together, to care about each other, to help one another instead of judging people to find it.

When I was a child, we did a little play called “stone soup” about a traveler who tricks a community full of people only concerned for themselves into working together as a community, of sharing what they had with those around them.

We need some stone soup. We need to care about each other once more.

A Lack of Empathy Increased Self-Reliance at the Expense of Social-consciousness

America Poverty CoverOriginally published May 2nd, 2012, I am especially proud of this article discussing decreasing empathy as a mental health problem.  This article also appears in my upcoming book on poverty in America.

 

A Lack of Empathy Increased Self-Reliance at the Expense of Social-consciousness

It’s a mental health epidemic. It’s a change in how people conduct themselves socially. It’s been worsening every year since the 1980s. It has created enormous misery in our society. It is…our increasing lack of empathy for other people, our inability to “walk in another’s shoes.”

Declining empathy is one of those social subjects we all seem to be aware of on some level-yet rarely understand enough about to make the needed changes. Athttp://www.psychologyandsociety.com/empathydefinition.html we see a psychologist’s concept of empathy, “a vicarious emotional experience in which you feel and understand what another person feels…there are two elements of empathy: perspective taking (understanding what another person feels), and vicarious emotion (feeling what another person feels). ” This means that we not only experience another’s feelings (psychologists consider that “sympathy”) but truly UNDERSTAND where the other person is coming from. It is both a cognitive and emotional response to another person. In Wicca, psychic empaths experience another’s feelings and experiences very tangibly, often experiencing other people’s pains and sorrows more intensely than those people experience them on a conscious level, picking up on their unconscious and subconscious experiences in addition to the conscious ones each individual readily conveys.

This “feel within” experience is critical to our ability to help others. Entrepreneur Mark S. Birch discusses Empathy in American history in his article, “Empathy and the American Dilemma” (http://birch.co/post/11653486193/empathy-and-the-american-dilemma), describing the evolution of the American middle class and why the “Greatest Generation” experienced far more empathy for others than we do today. His article is an enlightening journey through history, helping us to understand how we moved from a culture of shared social responsibility to “generation me” where “greed is good.” The “Greatest Generation” was more empathic than we are today because of the common experiences everyone shared in the Great Depression and WWII which served as great social equalizers. Mark Birch describes that during depression, “People were standing in soup kitchen lines as equals. People worked alongside each other building the next generation of national infrastructure.” He goes on to describe how during the 1980s, “The political dynamic changed as well to reflect this growing self-reliance. This meant initiatives to lower taxes, shrink government, reduce regulation, and dismantle welfare policies.”

By the 1980s, our sense of caring and helping others that was forged so intensely by the shared experiences of the 1930s and 1940s had severely eroded. Now we live in “Generation Me” where greed is so pervasive and regulation so weak that, as it was during the 1920s (see PBS program “The American Experience episode “The Crash of 1929”http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/transcript/crash-transcript/), those who could manipulate financial systems and profit from them exploited them to the point where both housing and financial industries collapsed. After years of focusing on just ourselves, we are ill-equipped psychologically to help others, to put our profits, our wants, our interests aside and look at the world through someone else’s eyes. We see this in our daily lives in the increase of rudeness, the increase of casual violence, and even just our inability to maintain social relationships for long periods of time. We marry thinking we can make the other person serve our selfish interests-and when they don’t, we discard the relationship, divorce, and look for someone else.

Just think how much better your life could be if you and everyone around you learned what our parents, grandparents, and great grand parents from the Greatest Generation learned: we are all connected, every life is valuable, every life (human, plant, and animal) is precious, every viewpoint is valid. When we transcend our petty momentary desires, we find ourselves and our world enriched. Empathy evolved among humans because it fosters life. We need each other and we need communities. Let us all endeavor think before we speak, look at life through the view points of others, and care about those around us.

Reblog: Five Ways to Write Characters People Care About

The following is re-blogged from http://writersrelief.com/blog/2014/05/write-characters-people-care-about/

 

Princess Anyu from Laurel A. Rockefeller's  Peers of Beinan series

Princess Anyu from Laurel A. Rockefeller’s Peers of Beinan series

“In a previous article, we explored five ways to make your characters more three-dimensional. Once your characters are believable as living, breathing individuals, the next step is to make readers care about them. When readers are invested in the characters’ struggles and personal stories, they are much more likely to keep reading.

Here are five ways to make readers care about your characters:

Make Your Characters Need Something. One of the easiest ways to make your character more empathetic is to expose a vulnerability and establish a need to: save a dying mother, fall in love, crack the code, etc. The need can be as simple as “get to work on time” or as complicated as “save the world.” But it will encourage readers to empathize with the character and root for his or her success.

Example: Joe struggles through failed relationship after failed relationship in an attempt to find his soul mate.

Make Your Characters Take A Stand On Important Issues. A character with strong convictions and a cause to be passionate about will intrigue readers and earn their respect. If your audience is interested in your character’s goals and respects your character’s convictions, they’ll be more inclined to follow the story line to its conclusion.

Example: Leslie stands up for women’s equality in the workplace at a local public forum.

Make Your Character The Underdog. Nothing piques the interest of the reader more than the inspirational story of a hero battling against seemingly impossible odds, struggling to find success under the bleakest of circumstances. Who wouldn’t cheer for the little guy? Think David vs. Goliath.

Example: Despite being an amateur boxer, Andrew is nervous but optimistic before his match against the world champion.

Give Your Characters Idealistic Qualities. Readers love characters that embody qualities and ideals they also aspire to. Even if your character is a scoundrel, make him or her a soft-hearted scoundrel. Characters that exemplify the best of humanity entice the reader to stay engaged and keep reading.

Example: Dan may be a pirate, but he will use his ship to run the blockade and bring food to the starving orphans.

Give Your Characters Formidable Foes. Heroes are only as good as the villains who oppose them. Giving your main character adversaries who present challenging obstacles will bring out the best (and sometimes the worst) in your characters. As daunting as that sounds, the journey to overcome these obstacles will further endear your characters to the reader.

Example: Iago has created a web of lies designed to test Othello’s resolve.

Empathetic Characters Don’t Always Have To Be Good Guys

Creating characters that evoke empathy in the reader can be challenging, but these five methods will ensure that your efforts are successful. And keep in mind that empathetic characters don’t always have to be likable. Try your hand at writing an unlikable (or even villainous) character that exudes empathetic qualities. Think Patrick Bateman in American Psycho or Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series.”