Site Meter

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

relationships and taking on other people's personalities

What is the nature of empathy? How do we relate to other people?
In listening to these tapes (maybe I will tell the story of these tapes some time) I think about relationships. One of the dichotomies set up is between brief connections between people and longer relationships that grow and build. One woman in the group gave the figure of 6 years. This is how long she says it takes her to really feel like she knows where someone is coming from. This elicited anger from a man in the group- he had recently met some woman and had been really enjoying spending time with her. "Our relationship is meaningful NOW", he insisted. So maybe there is some difference between these two people, different styles, and they are also looking for different things. Different kind of meaning?

A different woman relates a story of how she is friends with a guy who is studying biochemistry and he is extremely excited about it. She doesn't understand biochemistry and he knows she doesn't, but he still loves talking to her about it because she can feel his excitement. Here is empathy to some extent. The two of them take on similar feelings. Someone else in the group responds by saying that if she understood biochemistry, it would be a deeper level of communication, a deeper connection. Not everyone is so sure of this, or thinks its particularly important.

I was going to say that this got me thinking about the question of how we can take on qualities of other people. But I'm no longer sure of the connection between these two lines of thought. I guess I see empathy and mutual understanding as the healthy good aspect to relationships, whereas the taking of someone else's personality without giving of your own is unhealthy, bad. But maybe this is just how we learn. This is how we grow up. We have weaknesses, and fill them up with other people's approaches. We can see it in a positive way. I'm reminded of the videogame Megaman. You run around destroying the different enemies and after killing them, you get their power- maybe you can now lift and hurl boulders, or throw lightning bolts or cast fireballs. In the real world, we don't need to destroy someone to use their abilities. But until we work that ability into our self, there is something questionable about it. I guess its the detachability. If our personality contains detachable elements then how can someone trust us? How can you build something if the ground is always shifting out from under you?

So, yes, there are worries. But I like having Megaman's abilities. How else am I going to defeat Dr. Wily?

No comments: