There’s so much going on in our world today, many of which causes unrest among humanity. Some things are a bit more evident than others but all are equally as important. It is safe to say that we tend to take one of three positions when it comes to the issues of humanity. We either relate (empathize), we understand (sympathize) or we (deny).
When We Empathize
The Greek phrase that lends empathy its meaning is “passion from feelings or emotion.” Research suggests that empathy is completely natural, that in fact we were born empathetic. As we evolved, our brains developed in three movements. Those movements simulate the actions, emotions, and thoughts of others. When we experience an emotion, a part of our brain called the insula is activated. When we see emotions in others, some of the same neurons in our insula is activated. By allowing ourselves to completely understand how someone else feels, becoming the other person, we vicariously experience their suffering or we vindicate their cause.
When We Sympathize
When a person feels sympathy toward a cause or an organization, “he/she has feelings of approval, loyalty, or support.” The word is most commonly used to describe the quality of caring about someone’s misfortunes or the feeling of emotional or intellectual accord with that individual. Sympathy also refer to the sense of harmony between people with a common disposition, or opinion. A child’s ability to feel sympathy develops as they learn from their parents and others around them. Through childhood and adolescent, ones ability to sympathize continues to develop however, when we reach adulthood, our ability to sympathize be it learned/practiced seems more of a choice.
When We Deny
Denial is defined as “the refusal to accept reality or fact, acting as if a painful event, thought or feeling does not exist.” It is also considered one of the most primitive defense mechanisms because it dates back to early childhood development. As grown up versions of our younger selves we are still in denial. Look around, are we not still wrestling with emotional conflict, stress, painful thoughts, threatening information and anxiety. Well, what better time than now to choose, to move forward? The following are strategies to help beat back the bondage of denial;
- Seek self awareness – Honestly examine what it is and why it is you fear it
- Seek clarity – Identify irrational beliefs surrounding that fear – or situation
- Seek accountability – Open up to a trusted friend or loved one
- Seek help – Via support groups, therapy, or counseling
As one Neil deGrasse Tyson stated “humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others”. Imagine how different the world would be if, we indeed practiced empathy. If we unequivocally, understood the normal of someone else’s situation, seeing it holistically, both the positives and the negatives. #selah
Social Issues (select list): #Poverty #Homelessness #Civil-Rights #Racial-Discrimination #Gender-Inequality #Bullying #Pollution #Immigration #Public-Health #Human-Trafficking #Education #Climate-Change #Police-Brutality #Abortion #Gun-Control #Domestic-Violence