I spoke about empathy in a recent blog. Empathy is the idea that you can get past judgments and see another person, ie: “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” We develop empathy when we are able to look outside ourselves and see another person – gazing past the action and looking deeper.
We live in a culture that tends to be self-focused. It’s easy for us to know how we’re feeling and understand what causes us to act and react in certain ways. We know our “normals.” We see the world through our set of eyes, based on our experiences and preconceived notions. But many of us struggle to see outside of that space. We have an idea of what is right and wrong, but when someone violates that idea, we often condemn them. We forget all about understanding. We lose sight of the fact that this other person has their own set of experiences.
When we make these preconceived judgments, we’re not looking at the whole picture. We’re just seeing one thing and creating an opinion based on that, instead of delving deeper. This course of action may feel easier, because it’s automatic, but it doesn’t make it right.
To further humanity and help our community grow, we need to work harder to understand others. We need to see past actions and look deeper into the human being. We need to see a whole person – someone with feelings, experiences (good and bad), someone with a soul.
When we delve deeper and work hard to understand those around us, we grow and we help others flourish as well. Many are quick to pass judgment on others, but you can help change this thought process by your own actions – setting an example by being understanding.
The more people with the ability to look outside themselves and past their preconceived judgments, the better our society will be. It also means, the less likely we will be to stereotype those who are or were incarcerated. Instead of making a quick judgment, we can find out more about the person and offer a caring hand. These quick judgments can hinder a person’s success when released from incarceration and also while they’re in prison. Those incarcerated may start to lean on others without good intentions if they can’t find the right support. Those released may find it harder to stay free, if they can’t adapt to society on the outside.
Try to be more compassionate and empathetic in our day-to-day life. Slowly but surely, your actions will positively influence those around you.
[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]