“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”.

“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.” ― Nathan W. Morris

I like to purge. I consider myself a purger but not of the body. I like to purge stuff and find that very cathartic. I have always lived by the motto if it isn’t serving a purpose, I don’t need it. Its worked out well, so far.

I have decided to take that motto and take it a step forward. I have a friend who is a minimalist. Its quite fascinating that she cannot survive with less stuff in a society that tells us we need more stuff. I have imagined its very freeing.

Being a minimalist is something I have always seen myself doing. I truly like the idea to not being bogged down from having things I simply do not need. So I have taken the first step to becoming a minimalist. I have gone through my closet and gathered all the clothing I intend to donate. I mean were talking five pairs of shoes, numerous t-shirts, polos, sweaters, and jeans. Every bit of clothing is something I haven’t worn in years. I find myself saying I will wear it eventually or when I lose a few pounds. This type of thinking isn’t productive.

So with anything, I research minimalism and found that this concept isn’t limited to “stuff”. It can be a lifestyle. I found that you can start with stuff but you can minimize your job/school, stress, debt, friends/family, and health/diet. I became obsessed with this notion. I’ll be it, I won’t be minimalizing much of friends and family. I already have a small and close knit support system but everything else sounds appealing.

One article I read even discussed mental health as an aspect of minimal living. Learning to minimalize the stress and conflict in your life. You see minimalism is about a person’s whole being and is intended for optimal living. You create more freedom for yourself when you are not tied to stuff and negative baggage.

Minimal living in regard to health and diet requires more planning. Everyday I spend ten dollars to eat lunch because I make no preparation for what I intend to eat. So by planning my meals and minimally spending money, I am giving myself freedom in more healthy living and saving money on food that is not spur of the moment.

My end game is that I hope this provides me with more time to do what I want. I think this will be a good way to get it. Living minimally is living more purposefully.

I started with my closet and intend to move to other parts of my life. Lets see how it goes:

 

 

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.” —Benjamin Disraeli

March is Social Work Appreciation month and as we wind down the third month of the year, I wanted to write about my passion and chosen career. Many folks have a misconception of what Social Work is and what a Social Worker does. Many people see Social Workers only responsibility is to take children out of unfit homes, which they do but also so much more.

Social Workers work in many different settings. Some work in hospitals, some hold government positions, some are DCS case workers, others work for insurance companies, nonprofits, charitable organizations, and many other places.

I have known some social workers to be therapists, presidents of hospitals, and coordinator of Dolly Parton’s Imagination library. One of the executives at my company was a neonatal social worker. We come in all shapes and forms. Its astounding.

I am very lucky, for which I completely recognize, that I found a career that is also my passion. Not everyone is lucky enough to say that. I feel as if I have found my purpose and wish to spend the rest of my life pursuing it.

My current role is to work with children and adults who suffer from mental illness. I am to provide them with the tools and education that will allow them to function at their absolute best. This is the mission of every social worker. We also advocate for those who are unable to. We provide a voice for someone who is too afraid to speak. Some social workers advocate for an abused child, woman, or man. Some social workers seek to protect the elderly. There are social workers who seek to restore the rights of oppressed people. Advocacy is a large part in what we do. Unfortunately, there are people in this world who seek to use their power and privilege for their own evils.

I make it my mission to restore dignity to every person I work with. Sometimes other people have a way of taking people’s humanity away and social work seeks to reverse that. I believe that all people have basic rights. I believe that everyone is entitled to live their best life and should not be impeded on what other  think or believe. I believe people are good. I believe people have obstacles in life and they can be overcome. I believe folks should be given an opportunity and they shouldn’t be discounted who they are, where they live, who they love, or what physical/mental impairment they may have. Everyone deserves respect.

I  came to this profession for two reasons; 1) I wanted to help people and 2) I believe God led me to this career path. I always say that Jesus was the greatest social worker to ever live. I thank God for Christ and his powerful example of how to treat mankind.

I wish to make an impact on the world. I never wanted to do that in a grandeur way. I work with people within my community and attempt to meet their needs Often people believe social problems are one dimensional and easy to fix. That notion is false. Social problems are complex. People who suffer from the disease of addiction cannot just stop using. There are serious biological and psychological factors involved. Furthermore, people who are an addict never stop being an addict. That is something that is maintained as a life long goal. Family dynamics are crucial to social problems as well. Many times social issues are generational and cycle through families. Without intervention those cycles cannot be changed.

I firmly believe that family is the bedrock of society. I do believe you can look at any social issues, whether its imprisonment, poverty, addiction, abuse, and so forth, and link it back to the family unit. Its my believe the breakdown of the American family perpetuates many of these issues. I am lucky to work in a career field where I am helping people break the cycle. All I can do is provide people with the tools and education. They must put in the work. Frankly, its a miss more times than not but when you do see people making progress it reinforces why you do what you do. That light bulb moment is priceless.

Finally, I have to philosophies in life.

Fredrick Douglass once said: I is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

And

Napoleon Hill said: If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.

As a social worker I work with families to provide a foundation that will foster healthy, strong and productive adults. Lastly, not everyone can be the leader of a movement or become president and enact major social change. However, every person has the ability to do something insignificant to themselves that may be significant for someone else. I am very lucky to be living my passion.

 

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“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.

““The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.” – Jim Morrison

I am a behavioral scientist. I am a student of psychology and love understanding people. I have spent many years learning how to better understand myself.  I mean what really makes me tick. Every trick I learned about studying people I applied to myself. I wanted to compile a few facts about my personality type. This is a more personal blog than I normally write but I thought it would be fun. $$

The most scientific test one can take to determine personality is Myers Brigg. It is the test most employers use to gauge candidates for employment. Here is a link to a test if you’re curious about your personality types (http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp). There are many combinations of personality types.

My personality type is ISFJ. ISFJ is an abbreviation for Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, & Judging.

  • Introversion (I): ISFJs are introverted and tend to be quiet and reserved.
  • Sensing (S): ISFJs prefer concrete information rather than abstract theories.
  • Feeling (F): ISFJs place a greater emphasis on personal considerations rather than objective information.
  • Judging (J): ISFJs are planners and tend to be very well-organized.

This is a snap shot of my personality type. When I read this I noticed a contradiction among those traits that I feel but couldn’t put into words. You see, I am an extreme type person. I either really love something or can’t stand it. I usually am never neutral about anything. I am a critical thinker that thrives on facts and data but can be an emotional sentimental wreck. I often feel like a hypocrite. I tend to divide people into extremes. So when I took the Myers Brigg I was excited to see my observations translated into a personality type and to boot about 14% of the population has my same personality (1).

The biggest contradiction is the “Sensing” and “Feeling” portion. I love facts and concrete information. It’s how I determine my decisions. I’m very calculated. However, I also am an emotional person. I think with my heart. I always think of others. It’s very confusing.

I am an introverted person. I tend to draw my energy from within and become very tired from too much social interaction. I find small talk an exhausting chore. I’m not good at it and avoid it at all cost. I tend to fare better in one on one conversation and like to talk about personal matters.

Judging is very appropriate. I plan and organize. I obsess over details. I execute my plans with precision.  I get excited when things go as I plan them.

I’ve compiled some research together to give a more in depth look at what being an ISFJ is like.

“The ISFJ personality type is quite unique, as many of their qualities defy the definition of their individual traits. Though possessing the Feeling (F) trait, ISFJs have excellent analytical abilities; though Introverted (I), they have well-developed people skills and robust social relationships; and though they are a Judging (J) type, ISFJs are often receptive to change and new ideas.”(2)

“ISFJs need to know when to say no and stand up for themselves if they are to maintain their confidence and enthusiasm. Naturally social, an odd quality for Introverts, ISFJs utilize excellent memories not to retain data and trivia, but to remember people, and details about their lives.” (2)

“ISFJs enjoy structure and strive to maintain this order in all areas of their lives. While people with this personality type are introverted and tend to be quiet, they are keen observers and are focused on other people. Because they are so perceptive, ISFJs are good at remembering details about other people. Those with this personality type are particularly well-tuned in to the emotions and feelings of others.” (1)

Also, the most common career choices for ISFJs are Social Workers. I chose the Social Work profession long before I knew anything about being an ISFJ. It delighted me to find that I am almost meant for my career. It certainly validated my choice.

Finally, here are some famous ISFJ: Bruce Willis, Halle Berry, Kanye West, Kate Middleton Kim Kardashian, Rosa Parks, Prince Charles, Mitt Romney, Mother Teresa

It’s safe to say that I am in good hands. I’m in the company of Presidents, Royalty, Social Advocates, and Politicians.

I thought this would be a fun way to write about myself. I compiled some information about my personality type. Its scientific in nature. I rely on this information much more than zodiac signs. At times my need for organization and structure outweighs other needs in my life.  I value personal relationships at all times. I tend to analyze them too much. I want to feel a connection with people. I judge my relationship with people based on how much we share emotions. I prefer intimate conversations. I thrive in small groups. I’m loyal and take my responsibilities seriously.

Lastly, during my research, I found this very exciting. It is extremely true. I put a lot of value on my ability to gift give:

“When it comes to gift-giving, ISFJs have no equal, using their imagination and natural sensitivity to express their generosity in ways that touch the hearts of their recipients.” (2)

This In Itself Is Humbling