POINTS TO PONDER

BEING CONSIDERATE

Sometimes people use the word “sympathy” when it is better to say “empathy.” Sympathy involves understanding from your perspective. Empathy includes putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and understanding WHY they may have these particular feelings. It creates a sense of concern over the plight of the person. A psychologist at Lesley University tells us that having empathy increases the likelihood of helping others and showing compassion. Empathy is a building block of morality – for people to follow the Golden Rule, it helps if they can put themselves in someone else’s shoes,” according to the Greater Good Science Center. This research institute studies psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being. It is also an essential ingredient of successful relationships because it helps us understand the other person’s perspectives, needs, and intentions.

Although the distinction between empathy and sympathy may seem similar, there is a clear. According to Hodges and Myers in the Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, empathy is “understanding another person’s experience by imagining oneself in their situation, but without actually undergoing it.” A difference is maintained between self and other. Sympathy, in contrast, involves the experience of being moved by, or responding in tune with, another person.”

Earlier in psychology history, many experiments were performed with highly questionable and even outrageous violations of ethical considerations. For example, Milgram’s[1] infamous obedience experiment involved deceiving human subjects into believing that they were delivering painful, possibly even life-threatening, electrical shocks to another person.

These controversial psychology experiments played a significant role in developing the ethical guidelines and regulations that psychologists must abide by today. When performing studies or experiments involving human participants, psychologists must submit their proposals to an institutional review board (IRB). ​These committees help ensure that experiments conform to ethical and legal guidelines.

Ethical codes, such as those established by the American Psychological Association, are designed to protect the safety and best interests of those who participate in psychological research. Such guidelines also protect the reputations of psychologists, the field of psychology itself, and the institutions that sponsor psychology research.

Kate Dunagan of Thought Catalog tells us there are two words we often hear used by others, words that have a specific power to call you to action or defy others’ expectations. You may even feel indifferent about the use of these two words. These two words are, “be considerate.”

We may use the phrase “be considerate” when someone exhibits intolerance. We may use it to remind ourselves that “stirring the pot” isn’t always beneficial for a relationship. Even if that relationship is with a person, we deem an adversary.

But what does be considerate actually imply? We can only understand what civil or polite means for ourselves and how our actions will affect others when we define them ourselves. It will depend on our personality, emotional well-being, and specific circumstances. No one can make this decision for us and it is one of the many obstacles we must overcome amidst the human experience.

Some people may believe that others are considerate when they choose to do what is most harmonious for the majority of a group. It could mean attending a concert we do not wish to attend or changing our personality to be accepted by a collection of strangers. This could be when we buy that item our best friend urges us to get, even when we don’t have the money. It is the moment we say “yes” when we should say “no.”

Yet, there are also moments when we say “no,” and we should say, “yes.” It is the moment procrastination becomes a part of our daily routine, even though we have a multitude of errands to accomplish. We feel lonely and need to reach out to someone the moment we don’t. It is the day we deny ourselves any new experience for the sake of self-preservation.

In certain situations, it can be challenging to realize whether or not we are being considerate, to whom we are being inconsiderate, and who needs to ultimately “win” in the end. If we are being destructive and aware of it, it may benefit everyone involved that we leave the concert. On the other hand, suppose we choose to play along with the person who asks us to alter our personality for the reward of admiration. In that case, it is our decision whether or not we are being considerate to ourselves. If it is a situation that would benefit our growth as individuals, it may be best to force ourselves against the usual grain.

When the pressure of other people is involved, we need to look back to who we are and what’s best for us. Ask yourself, what is more inconsiderate than denying others a behavior they wish for you to exhibit or showing up to an event you do not desire to attend without the bulk of your true self. When we do this, people like to believe we are giving them something (for example: our time) when we give in to their wishes but, in truth, we are not. When we are intentionally a pseudo-version of ourselves, we give them nothing. Nothing good, anyway.

A surefire way to guarantee success in being mindful of others is to be aware of our own needs. How we treat ourselves has a direct correlation to how we treat others. If we decide to let other people’s opinions determine what we do and who we are and only give them a sliver of our identity, they will never get to see the fullness of our existence. We may even deny ourselves the fullness of our presence if we choose to let societal pressures win. We are missing out on the beauty of our blemishes and our strengths.

But what does the Bible say about showing consideration? The prophet Ezekiel received this word from the Lord, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So, I removed them when I saw it.”[2]

The Apostle Peter gives us an example of being considerate using a husband-and-wife situation. He says, a wife should be willing to cooperate with her husband. Then, even those who refuse to accept God’s teaching will be persuaded to believe because of the way you live. You will not need to say anything. Your husband will see the pure life you live with reverence for God. It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from inside you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That beauty will never disappear. It is worth very much to God.

In the same way, a husband should treat his wife in an understanding way, since they are physically weaker than you. You should show her respect, because God gives her the same blessing He gives you – the grace of true life. Do this so that nothing will stop your prayers from being heard. So, all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing.[3]

Then the Apostle James offers instructions to believers as a group. He tells them, brothers and sisters, you are believers in our glorious Lord Jesus the Anointed One. So don’t treat some people better than others. Suppose someone comes into your meeting wearing very nice clothes and a gold ring. At the same time a poor person comes in wearing old, dirty clothes. Let’s say you show special attention to the person wearing nice clothes by telling them, ‘Sit here in this good seat.’ But you say to the poor person, ‘Stand in that corner!’ or ‘Sit on the floor by our feet!’ Doesn’t this show that you think some people are more important than others? You set yourselves up as judges – judges who make bad decisions.[4]

Finally, the Apostle Paul has this advice: Don’t be interested only in your life, but care about the lives of others too.[5] Also, don’t speak evil of anyone but live in peace with others. You should be gentle and polite to everyone.[6] Finally, put a stop to all sarcasm, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in the Anointed One forgave you.[7] You should never stop showing consideration for others, not even those who may not like you.


[1] The Milgram experiment(s) on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram..

[2] Ezekiel 16:49-50

[3] 1 Peter 3:1-4, 7-10

[4] James 2:1-4

[5] Philippians 2:4

[6] Titus 3:2

[7] Ephesians 4:32

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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