“If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” –Mother Teresa

“If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” –Mother Teresa

 

Empathy is something we hear a lot about in pop culture. People often share quizzes or quotes about being an empathy. As much as the word is thrown around in today’s society, I wish it was practiced more.

Empathy is often confused with sympathy but those two emotions are very different. Sympathy is understanding that a person is experiencing a particular emotion. Empathy is feeling that particular emotion alongside the person.

What I pull from Mother Teresa’s words are powerful. We may understand that a particular group of people have a plight and we may recognize they are vulnerable and marginalized but do we truly empathize with them?

Because a group of people are experiencing a shared plight do we somehow believe this diminishes their struggles? Often we view people we disagree with as a group of nameless and faceless people. We see immigrants, African Americans, LBGTQ people, and other marginalized people of society. Because we look at the “mass” we fail to recognize the dignity and inherent worth of the individual person that makes up the “masses”.

Each person has an experience that is different from your own. That experience is as valid as yours. We lose that when we see people as nameless and faceless enemy.

I think the best example of empathy was stated by Jesus Christ. He advised “love one another as yourself”. This means we recognize that the stranger in the mass has a personhood that is separate from my own. I think Jesus was also highlighting that in many ways we can be harder on other people than we are on ourselves.

We understand our intentions. We know where our heart was. Yet we always question the motives of others. We are quick to assume another’s wrong doings and not give the benefit of the doubt. If we loved others as we loved ourselves, we wouldn’t rush t judgment about other people’s motives but give them time to make them known.

By only seeing people as part of a “mass” we maintain that shroud around them, perpetuating a two dimensional understanding of them. We have to recognize that people of all walks want what we all want: our basic physical and psychological needs to be met. When we prevent that we are denying an individual’s personhood. In a fair and free society we validate everyone’s experience while not denying a person’s existence.

We should always keep in mind that behind every issue, political or other, is the “one” that makes up the “mass”. That one is a person who has thoughts, feelings, and perspective on the world.

Empathy is one of those buzz words that is often thrown around in pop culture and it seems very little understand the complexity of the emotion or what it truly means to empathize with another person. Its understanding that we can disagree while recognizing the complexity of the person we disagree with. It’s a way for us to maintain our humanity. It’s something to consider the next time you are faced with the “mass”; consider the “one”.

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“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway

There is no shortage of blogs and articles about the new year and how to “be a new you” this year. Considering the theme of my blog is about mental wellness, I wanted to type out a few tips for a good year. Like most, I want this “new year new me” feeling to last all year. Side note: I hate “new year new me” announcements. It wasn’t until just yesterday I realized why. I find announcing to the world “new year new me” attention seeking. Seeking attention is a huge turn off for me. But I love when people decide to better themselves and work who they are as a person. I always encourage folks to do that year round.

So I have about six habits one should do in the new year (or at any time in the year) to add to their over all wellness.

 

  1. Say “Yes” more often.

A couple of years ago I told myself I would not deny myself from activities or experience because I was fearful or thought I would not like something. Saying “Yes” to events, people, or experiences that you have not done before is a great way to get you out of your comfort zone. Life is about growing and expanding your comforts. Take a trip, try a new employment opportunity, start school; examples such as these will assist you in expanding your comfort zone. Its a cliché but life cannot be lived on the side lines.

2. Tell people “No” and do not feel guilty about it.

At this point you might be asking yourself isn’t this contradictory to the first point. Its truly not. Too often people pleasers only go along with something because they are afraid of disappointing someone. You have to recognize not everyone is looking out for your best interest and only want what they can get out of you. Be selective with those who you say yes too. If a person wants something from you and its not something you are comfortable with, or its not feasible for you, or anything else do not be afraid to tell them no. Remember “no” is a complete answer in itself.

3. Learn to do activities alone.

For many the thought of being alone is scary. (Note; there is a difference between being alone and lonely) Being alone is healthy and normal. Being alone isn’t good for a person and isn’t healthy. Reach out for help if you are lonely. However, being alone is normal. We need that time to recharge and to regroup. Going to a movie, reading a book, or going on a run is a good way for a person to recharge. Learn to like yourself alone or other will not be able to tolerate you n a group.

4. Be more specific about your intentions and desires.

Too often we do not properly communicate what we want from others. We must be direct with people. We have to remember people cannot read minds. You cannot read other people’s minds so why do you think other people can read your mind. Be specific. If you are upset with a person share your feelings. Be honest. Its not a sign of weakness. It saves heart ache and grief. If someone is bothering you its best for find a way to communicate this without escalating the situation and do not keep it bottled up so that you eventually blow up.

5.  Learn a new skill or hobby.

Broadening your horizons is important. Personal growth is important. One way to do this is by learning a new skill. Take a class, learn a new language, join a club or gym, anything that will help you step out of your comfort zone. It is a good idea to do something that would translate into an employment opportunity. Bettering yourself in this fashion could also pay off with better opportunities.

6. Be more aware of how you come across to folks.

Being self aware is very important. If you are more aware of your mannerism it can help you connect with others. If you come across as aloof, angry, bored, or happy it affects how others will respond to you. Monitor your body language and other nonverbal queues. Remember to smile more. Stand straighter. Look people in the eyes. All of these non verbal actions can dictate how people respond to you.

 

These tips can help you live a better life all year round. Everyone wants to be their best self. These tips are a good start. Add any tips you may have in the comment section.

“On some fundamental level we find it difficult to understand that other people are human beings in the same way that we are.” – John Green

Society has a problem with devaluing other people. Pop cultured is littered with examples of people diminishing other people to their labels. Songs, movies, and books often show case humans as only their race, religion, sexual preference, disability, or gender. Those tend to be more the popularly used groups of division.

The problem with only seeing someone as the label that has been placed on them is we tend to forget their personhood. They become one dimensional. We stop thinking of people as three dimensional beings with independent lives. They have their own experiences, problems, and triumphs.

Its easy to do because we see people in one way. Typically, we have an image of what a person is like and only think of them in those terms. For example, for my readers who have friends with children, I would imagine when you are around your friends you only see them and experience them as your friend. If their children are not around you see them as you always have. However, if you are around them and their children, you will see them differently. They are going to be caring for their child. You see a different side to this person, adding depth to the person you know.

You see five people can know the same person but each of those five people knows that one person differently. To the point that one person can be seen as five different people. No one’s experience with anyone person is the same.

Furthermore, when we use derogatory names for people we are furthering the dehumanization for that person.  When you call a person an insult, racial slur, homophobic term, or other dehumanizing terms you are separating your ability to connect their humanness with that person.

Its as if you are looking at that singular person as a large group of people. Your thoughts and reactions to that one person are shaped by your biases for the collective group. That is very dangerous thinking. That line of thinking may lead to mob mentality. People in large numbers commit their actions because they feel validated, anonymous, and have shared biases. People will commit behavior they normally other wise wouldn’t do in large crowds. In a large crowd people lose their own sense of humanness furthering the disconnect between you and the other person.

There are four steps we can take to ensure that the devaluation of people can be stopped.

  1. Use the person’s name. Never just use pronouns. If you are upset with a person using their name is a subconscious way of reminding yourself you are dealing with another person. Also, not using insults will very much do the same thing.
  2. Never reduce someone to their illness, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion. People are so much more than those labels. They have opinions, emotions, thoughts, insecurities. People bleed when cut. They do everything you do when hurt.
  3. Understand that the way you see someone is not the way someone else sees them. They way you understand and know them is not the same way others know or understand them. This adds the dimensional aspect to a person.
  4. Respect an individual’s personhood. You are a person that demands to be heard, respected, and has desire to be understood. We should work every day to provide the same to other folks.

Humans are naturally ego syntonic. People are very selfish and immediately see how every situation is going to affect them before they move forward. Frankly, its a survival skills. Without it humans would not be alive as long as they have been. However, we have to deal with the consequences of that innate biological feature.

In the rising tension filled political, racial, religious climate we are experiencing, I believe it’s important to follow the above guidelines. We must not forget that the people we come into contact with are just as complex as we are. We need to recognize and respect their complexity. Let’s work towards a society that understands this.

This In Itself Is Humbling.