3 celebrities on the superpower of empathy
According to Cambridge Dictionary, empathy is the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.
Michelle Obama, Jay Z, and David Letterman touch on the subject of empathy. It’s transformative power and why it can help solve most of our problems.
Michelle Obama podcast
During her podcast, Michelle Obama refers to empathy as an emotion we as a society have underdeveloped. In the sense that we do not teach our kids the importance of empathy or practice it as adults. At least not as much as we should.
This is a great point. Especially when we find ourselves easy to judge others but quite uncomfortable when we receive other people’s judgments.
How often do you put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you come to any assumptions about their decisions or actions?
Plus, how capable are you to have an understanding of someone else’s experience if you have not experienced it yourself?
There is this idea of ”the others”. People that might think, act or look different than you.
The first step towards practising empathy is understanding that you are ”the others’‘ to someone else.
What makes you who you are is just a coincidence. You just happen to be you, a product of your environment. You could have been anyone else on this planet. This is the strongest common denominator among all humans.
Feelings of racism, anger and hate can be products of ignorance and fear.
As Michelle Obama puts, it ”you can not understand what you do not know”.
This is why it is important to know the history behind certain circumstances, as well as other people’s experiences.
Cause it’s that fear of the unknown, the fear you might be hurt, or simply the fear that you are not good enough that can create a fertile ground for all these beliefs and sentiments.
Knowledge and exposure
In the same podcast one of her mentees, also points out the importance Exposure.
When you have the opportunity to gain exposure, make sure you do.
”If that’s surrounding yourself with different people, if that’s making sure you go to an out-of-state college or anything like that.
If that is traveling, exposure is key, because it opens your mind up to so much more than what’s within 3 block radius of a neighborhood.”
The more you learn and expose yourself to new information and experiences the more you get to develop the emotion of empathy.
This feeds into the idea that when you find yourself out of your comfort zone you gain a different understanding of the ”other.”
It helps you bring that idea of ”the other” closer. Simply by breaking that sense of disassociation.
Placing yourself in a different reality and making a conscious effort to get to know it helps you develop a new understanding of that ”other”.
Empathy grows when you make the connection that humans have more in common than differences.
David Letterman and Jay Z on My next Guest
Letterman during his show, My next guest, also touches on the profound power of empathy, while interviewing Jay Z.
Jay Z was talking about emotional intelligence and the fact that he believes that he did not have the opportunity to develop that emotion while growing up. The two men seem to have found a common ground on the topic.
Then David Letterman turns to his guest and says:
DL. – So the second your daughter is born, Boom, that all goes away and it just clicks in.
JZ. – Yeah, it’s strange.
DL. Isn’t that remarkable?
DL. And then I always follow this sentiment with, ” Why is that emotion not transcendent in the world?”.
The superpower of empathy
Emotional intelligence is ”the ability to understand and control your own feelings, and to understand the feelings of others and react to them in a suitable way.”
Self-awareness and social awareness play a major role in developing emotional intelligence. A key factor in expanding empathy.
According to Harvard Business School, ”Relationship management is how we take awareness of ourselves and others and channel it into how we interact with others.”
Letterman and Jay Z refer to realisation many parents gain upon having children. A newfound understanding of compassion that extends beyond themselves.
How is it possible that this emotion does not transcend in the world? Especially since so many people get to experience it?
The understanding that life is not only about you. You are part of a collective. The way you understand yourself influences the way you present yourself to others. The way you understand others influences the way you interact with them.
Everything is connected. Environmental and social issues are not part of ”the others”, they are part of you, your family, and friends.
Empathy should go beyond your immediate circle. It’s behind the feelings we all share, such as happiness, sadness, fear, disappointment, anxiety, hope, desperation, anger, pain, excitement e.t.c.
Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can help you use your eyes to see ”the other”.
That ”other”, is part of you.
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