The country may be divided, but are you divided? Do you live a
life of integrity remaining true to your authentic identity? Too often, we
become internally divided and live counter to our authentic identity. We are
born with genetic code and inherent greatness. The critical factor in living
your potential is to remain connected to you and build upon that foundation. Do
not trade your greatness for societal expectations. Differences should never
become divisions. Being different from those around us should not divide us
from each other or ourselves.
We have become destructively detached from one another and
ourselves. One measure of our detachment can be found in our empathetic
responses. A person’s empathic response to the plight of others diminishes with
emotional detachment. To understand others and ourselves is critical to self-development.
Empathy is critical to the advancement of humankind. To understand others does
not mean we have to agree or accept their differences as ours. Empathy is being
aware and sensitive to the experience of another. Empathy is vicariously
experiencing the feelings and experiences of others. Empathy is often confused
with sympathy but there is a difference. Sympathy is an understanding of
another person’s situation but viewed through your personal frame. Sympathy is
the version of a situation or feeling with little understanding of the person
experiencing it. Understanding that a ten-pound weight fell on a person’s big
toe is much different from feeling the pain of a ten pounds weight falling onto
your big toe. Understanding is critical to have empathy.
Research by psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner shows a
correlation between the lack of empathy and social environments. Wealth,
status, segregation, and other social barriers may create a lack of empathy
among individuals. Research conducted by The University of Michigan, published
in 2010, indicates university students of today are less empathetic than
students of the 1970s. One of the causes may be media exposure but one thing
research shows us is there is a diminishing level of apathy in our society. We
should acknowledge the damage it does to us whether it is from wealth, status,
social media, or a combination of many factors. All those things may separate
us but what divides us is us. Wealth, power, status, social media, and other
attributes of a modern society must be used as tools to unite and not as
weapons to divide. We must not lose ourselves in what surrounds us.
The development of your authentic identity requires empathy. Without empathy, you lose touch with the truth that humans are interconnected and interdependent. We need the sense of being a part of something larger than ourselves. We need one another. We have the capacity to feel what another person feels. Maybe not with the same depth of pain or passion but in a way that allows us to feel rather than just know. We are naturally hardwired through mirror neurons. Functional magnetic resonance imaging shows that regions of the brain light up when we connect with another person’s pain or distress. The universal truth is that we sink or swim together, receive mutual benefit from helping each other, and have more in common than we sometimes admit. If we fail the empathy test, we fail ourselves. We must step outside ourselves and help people without losing our own perspective. This will help us build the connections that allow healthy relationships which are an essential element of mental health. We need each other.
1) Physically place yourself in an
environment or situation that makes you uncomfortable, not unsafe, just
2) Get into a political debate with a good friend and switch sides in the debate. Since they must be good people
because they are worthy of your time. So since they are good friends, you should
try to understand why they feel and believe as they do.
3) Ask someone why they feel, believe,
or live the way they do. Let them know they are important to you. Let them know
you what to grow and learn more of them so you will understand you better. Let
them know you care. Allow your ears and brain only to be conduits of
information. Listen with your heart. Do this with love.
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Harry and/or Robin Shivery.