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I teach an online class at Fresno Pacific University on "Teach With Your Strengths!" (http://tinyurl.com/twysfresno) One of the assignments I give my students is the choice to represent their Top 5 in an art form. Here are two pieces I got in this week.
This one was done by an art teacher in Ohio. Her top 5 are Arranger, Maximizer, Adaptability, Positivity and Empathy. She used her talents in this way to create this art:
* Arranger- organizing her design and color scheme.
* Maximizer- creating art that inspires people to be creative instead of saying, "I could never do that." She also worked on creating art that was completely in straight lines, never repeating the exact same color.
* Adaptability- She created this art in many stages, constantly having to tape off and retape pieces to add more colors. These short term goals helped her to stay focused on the task.
* Positivity- the colors! They are vidid and the subject matter is abstract.
* Empathy- reflected when the viewer observes her painting. It gives voice to the creativity and does not overwhelm the viewer with techniques that they cannot emulate.
Here is another:
This was done by a science teacher in New Mexico. She weaved all of her themes through the image- each touching each other, becoming the fabric of her life!
How would YOU draw YOUR Top 5?
People who are especially talents in the Empathy theme can sense the feeling of tother people by imagining themselves in other's lives or situations. Don't confuse this theme with sympathy. Empathy can experience the feelings of another person't predicament. HOWEVER, it doesn't mean they condone, agree (or even care) about another person's perspective. But they DO have the ability to understand it. And others are drawn to them because of that. Their power and strength comes from their ability to build and form relationships that have great emotional depth.
Unlike the other themes, Empathy has a physical response to others. They can "feel" the emotions of other people. When they "read the room", they are taking on those emotions. This can be emotionally draining for the person with Empathy. Be aware of those reactions and learn when you can "dial down" that strength, and when it's appropriate to "dial it up"!
Note: Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy normally means you pity someone of their unfortunate situation... you feel bad for them. Empathy is value neutral. You can read and sense emotions, but may not feel good or bad about them. When comparing Sympathy to Empathy, it implies that it only senses sad or bad emotions. Empathy senses a variety of emotions: excitement, comfort, drive, skepticism, commitment, determination, jealousy, pride and passion. This is pretty powerful!
In a child, they may be seen as having a sensitive soul. They need to laugh, cry and have the opportunity to vent. They may also be very in-tune to other's body language- carefully reading what people do, and not what they say.
Do you have, or know, someone with strong Empathy talents? They are the person who may tear up at a Hallmark commercial...or be able to name emotions connected to a situation with great precision. They are also the person people go to to talk to because they are a safe place to vent. It's almost like through your words, they are experiencing your pain, joy or hurt.
What a gift to have this theme! Both of my parents have Empathy in their Top 5. I have watched both of them as they (very differently) leverage this strength in their work as pastors.
Rock YOUR Strengths!