Tweaking Empathy, tweaking Abstract thinking, concretely

“Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions. We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means. Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress. But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice.The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.” – George W. Bush, June 3, 2020

Sacred ceremony has a purpose to bring us in alignment with source, our inner source, and higher wisdom. For example, the Aboriginal people of New Zealand and Australia are many different religions: Christian, Buddhist, pagan, Jewish, but their heritage calls them to sacred ceremony to celebrate their ancestry and their connection to the land, to source, and to a higher wisdom, and one of these ceremonies is called “Haka”. Some call it a dance, but it is not something you do gracefully or with any perfection, it’s just whole heartedness that makes it real. Haka is specifically gestural with chanting in the ancient language. Each gesture is a word, and much of the meaning comes across in intuitive understanding as you watch it. It is Empatharian, in nature and purpose. It is Empatharian.

Doing Haka and doing Empatharian, both, we use our spirit and emotions concretely, making a physical demonstration of our message, with a string of step by step word/meanings which ignite our energy. Repetition of the phrase imbeds the positive message neurologically, so that we are ignited with our positive message.

Our country’s turmoil after the traumatizing George Floyd Serial Murder, has reached past our borders to call out the whole world’s racism and injustice. Paris is burning, New Zealand and Australia are burning, along with many of our cities. If not literally, even more, we are all burning with desire for change. The Haka is being done in the streets, kneeling by officers and statesmen joins the hundreds of thousands lying on bridges, disrupting traffic, peaceful protesters carrying signs, arms up in appeal to the heavens, appeal to the hearts of the military machine which scared minds have set to the crowds.

We Empatharians might have a new more concrete message: “Everyone everywhere wins making a stand for peace-building and justice for all.” Without justice, there is no peace that will last. Those in power may try to dominate the protesters, but this will only strengthen and legitimize all the resistance activities, destructive or peaceful. Former President Bush said it all: “Achieving justice for all is the duty of all… “

Abstract vs. concrete thinking

In the last blog post I discussed abstract thinking and promised to discuss how Empatharian can improve both abstract and concrete thinking skills, which together improve mental health. Therapies and meditations focus on improving and positively skewing neurological pathways so that the brains normal negative bias is circumvented. Empatharian also helps us to positively skew our normally negative bias.

Abstract thought is usually defined alongside its opposite: concrete thinking. Concrete thinking is connected closely to objects and experiences that can be directly observed.

An example of a task that involves concrete thinking is breaking down a project into specific, chronological steps. A related abstract thinking task is understanding the reasons why the project is important.

Most of us need to use a blend of concrete and abstract thinking to function well in day-to-day life.

Abstract thinking skills normally develop as we grow and mature. It’s thought that from birth until around the age of 2, babies and toddlers generally think concretely. They observe and explore the world around them using their five senses and motor skills.

From ages 2 to 7, children develop the ability to think symbolically, which may be the foundation for abstract thinking. They learn that symbols like letters, pictures, and sounds can represent actual objects in the real world.

From age 7 until around 11, kids develop logical reasoning, but their thinking remains largely concrete — tied to what they directly observe.

Sometime around age 12 and continuing into adulthood, most people build on their concrete reasoning and expand into abstract thinking.

This stage includes the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes- learning how to empathize. The exercise of empathy is considered an abstract thinking ability. Of course, modern research has found evidence of empathy in children as young as babies, and in the animal kingdom, especially visible with Elephants, gorillas and primates, dolphins, and domesticated animals.

People who are able to think abstractly are often good at:

  • taking intelligence tests
  • solving complex problems
  • creating art of all types
  • coming up with novel options and directions (divergent thinking)

How to improve abstract thinking

If you want to improve your abstract thinking skills, here are some simple things you can try, with or without Empatharian:

  • Improvise. If there’s an improvisational theater group in your area, consider taking a workshop that allows you to explore this open-ended form of performance play. . If there’s an improvisational theater group in your area, consider taking a workshop that allows you to explore this open-ended form of performance play.
  • Solve puzzles. 3D, visual, and word puzzles will train you to think of alternatives beyond those that occur to you immediately. . 3D, visual, and word puzzles will train you to think of alternatives beyond those that occur to you immediately.
  • Build 3D models. people in science, technology, engineering, and math professions enhance their abstract thinking abilities by doing arts and crafts projects. . people in science, technology, engineering, and math professions enhance their abstract thinking abilities by doing arts and crafts projects.
  • Explore optical illusions. use art and photographs with optical illusions to train students to see things in multiple ways, which is a hallmark of abstract reasoning. . use art and photographs with optical illusions to train students to see things in multiple ways, which is a hallmark of abstract reasoning.
  • Play with figurative language. The ability to write similes, metaphors, analogies, and even pieces of personification can stimulate abstract thinking. Think of something concrete and relate it to something abstract: “On the day he was murdered , thunder and lightening awoke us as if the heavens were furious.” Or “The president threatened force on the protesters, like a two year old having a tantrum.” . The ability to write similes, metaphors, analogies, and even pieces of personification can stimulate abstract thinking. Think of something concrete and relate it to something abstract: “On the day he was murdered , thunder and lightening awoke us as if the heavens were furious.” Or “The president threatened force on the protesters, like a two year old having a tantrum.”
  • Exercise Empathy – in every situation where you interact with others, before you react to them in any way, vocalize a guess about what they may be feeling or needing at this moment. y – in every situation where you interact with others, before you react to them in any way, vocalize a guess about what they may be feeling or needing at this moment.

When we do Empatharian Groups, all of the above things are part and parcel of the work: we improvise situations, we puzzle out philosophical thoughts, translating into simpler words, we make three dimensional our words, and look at them from different angles, we look at photos and art in multiple ways, and we think of concrete situations in the real world and relate those situations to our abstract values and ideals, challenging ourselves to listen to others and communicate their feelings and needs in the situation. Improving abstract thinking, and using concrete thinking in this way, improves the neurological pathways to thoughts, feelings, and emotions, making us more elastic, resilient, and able to take positive directions in our lives.

Conditions that can limit abstract reasoning

Some neurological conditions may interfere with the ability to think abstractly.

  • Autism spectrum disorders. Some people with autism spectrum disorders may have trouble with concepts and problem-solving. . Some people with autism spectrum disorders may have trouble with concepts and problem-solving.
  • Schizophrenia. Some forms of abstract thinking, particularly those involved in understanding social cues, may be limited by schizophrenia. . Some forms of abstract thinking, particularly those involved in understanding social cues, may be limited by schizophrenia.
  • Traumatic or organic brain injuries. Injuries from accidents and prenatal exposures, including FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), can impact the parts of the brain that make abstract thinking possible.s. Injuries from accidents and prenatal exposures, including FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), can impact the parts of the brain that make abstract thinking possible.
  • Intellectual disabilities. Individuals with intellectual impairment often have difficulties using and understanding abstract thinking skills.. Individuals with intellectual impairment often have difficulties using and understanding abstract thinking skills.
  • Dementia. Often the parts of the brain involved in many types of dementia are the same parts that control abstract thinking skills . Often the parts of the brain involved in many types of dementia are the same parts that control abstract thinking skills

We don’t know if doing Empatharian could be therapeutic to these different special conditions which are more and more pervasive in our world, but it just might be. As with children, the movements are taught as a concrete experience, and with a sensitive and trained facilitator, the emotions are encouraged with the movements, which adds power and energy. As the language is learned, improvisation is encouraged, puzzles and pictures entertain, and specific stories are told and discussed, empathy is modeled and encouraged. At first it is a rote learning, but as has been demonstrated, even 2 year olds can become genuinely and independently empathic towards others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *