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Joined: 2 Oct 2006
Age: 42
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,554

13 Jul 2009, 3:13 pm

willmark wrote:
No, empathy doesn't just work both ways, but ideally it should. I expect that for most people this doesn't just occur by itself the way hearing or seeing do if you have those senses. I'm afraid I have no advice on how to develop this if you don't already experience it.

I found it easier to empathize when I realized that people's emotions actually make sense in their own way. It helped too that I developed an attachment to my dog; it was natural to develop empathy with a living thing that I actually cared about. I was his protector, and if somebody upset him I'd get upset. If he was happy, his happiness would rub off on me. :) Later on when I was in similar situations with different people those situations would evoke the same response from me, thus enabling me to empathize with others I did not care as much about. It's perhaps a weaker "empathizing" with others than I had with my dog, but right or wrong that's what it was. Empathy isn't something that can be learned from a textbook; it develops naturally, when in an environment conducive to that development. Just the action of thinking "how can I develop empathy?" distorts one's ability to develop it... as though too much self-awareness is pushing too hard to learn to empathize, and it won't work. One can't just get a dog and say, "ok empathy go!" :lol:

Won't you help a poor little puppy?