being normal together

share what is common to being human

Photo of Pete
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I work quite a lot with groups and through the years have found that I need to simplify more and more as it seems that most people don't actually see others the way that others see / are themselves. It is normal that we understand the world through that which we know, but if we are to empathise with others, it has to be in a way that others can freely accept ' others ' . One of the simplest ways that I work is to sit in a circle with everyone and ask people to say their name and what makes them happy. As we know, there are many things which make each of us happy, but in choosing what to share, in listening to others that share in ' our' given source of happiness, to hear things that make you laugh etc, etc, bring us all to a level of being human together without having to get into techniques, analysis, judgement etc . we simply are who we are together; witnesses to what it is to be human.   We also do many different physical activities together so that we can see each other being good or not so good at things; indirect educational learning; in the kitchen, the garden, building, drawing, studying......make it less serious and then people show themselves in their own time; it can't be rushed as some / many are frightened to get involved; to show themselves, but if you aren't asking them to show themselves then they actually can show as they relax into it.  We have all become very mental and less in contact with ourselves; but we are who we are; imperfect, trying to get somewhere and someone to share with who won't judge us or 'stab us in the back', or worse still, laugh at us or ridicule us. We are sensitive and delicate, then courageous !

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Photo of Megan McMahon

Hi Pete--I like this idea of sharing something simple with the group to start, and letting people open up in their own time. I wonder, as the groups move through activities and share-outs together, do you have them reflect or journal on what they have discovered about each other? I imagine there are a lot of surprises as people or students really get to know each other, having time to reflect on the surprises and commonalities might also help build the empathy!

Photo of Pete

Hi Megan, yes I think that is a great idea about writing down what they feel. Part of the strength of this exercise has been in the listening to others. learning to listen and to feel into what is being said. But for sure it would be good to have some more feed back, especially after the exercise has been done. I have done some things like helping to connect similarities between the observations through a game using the 4 elements represented symbolically. red triangle for fire, blue circle for water, yellow square for earth and a green half circle for air / wind. I place them in the center of the circle and the person with their object, which they describe, locate it in ' proximity ' to one or other of the elements represented in the center. The whole group can pitch in to help them find a suitable place to put their object. With adults it can go further asking them to write one of their own qualities on a paper and share it in the circle by placing it in relation to the ' elements '. A good game of comunication, sensitivity and shareing.