Tag Archives: learning to like ourselves first

Prevent Genocide and Bullying: 12 Ways to Swallow an Empathy Pill

23 Jul

Step 2 of 6… How Only you can prevent Bullying

How many pairs of shoes lurk in your closet and under the bed?

shoes lurking in DSW aisles - heaven for the shoe obsessed

shoes lurking in DSW aisles – heaven for the shoe obsessed

I know shoe obsession goes beyond Imelda Marcos and Carrie Bradshaw.  Not me.  I am foot challenged.

So while I don’t ‘get it’, I think I understand the foot ware obsession:

It’s hard walking a mile in our own shoes:  much less imagining what it’s like to walk in someone else’s.

Unable to walk that proverbial mile in another’s shoes, allows judgment to step in.  Suddenly, it’s harder to understand those blisters, bunions, corns, callous’s that fancy heel-wearer is sporting.

If only it were as easy to try on someone else's perspective!

If only it were as easy to try on someone else’s perspective!

Empathy, like a shoe-horn, slides you into someone else’s shoes.   But I wonder: do we want that kind of pain?  Even if  it’s the pain we can relate to?

It’s easier to look at ‘them’: unemployed, lonely, fired, depressed, awkward, broke, purposely different, fat, alone –  with disdain and distance.  It’s easier to acknowledge:  “That would never happen to ME!”

Like preventing the flu, keeping (emotional) distance is a preventative measure.

If you have to get close, perhaps you think ‘they’ deserve what they got.  Certainly they didn’t work or try hard enough.

It’s like those who said the Holocaust was the Jews fault:  they were too successful, wealthy, powerful.  OR the Tutsi’s had too much power and land.  OR the Armenians were Christians, not to mention well-educated compared to the Turks.  REALLY????

To be fair, genocide doesn’t start with a massacre.  It starts with one painful soul taking his/her frustration out on someone ‘safe’.  It starts with bullying.  ‘Someone’ others also resent.  ‘A different someone’ who thinks:  rather you than me.  Someone who doesn’t want to imagine how it feels to be the recipient of bullying.

Telling someone:  “well you need to:  (man up, lose weight, stop talking about ‘xxx’, get out there more, don’t be so aggressive, be more like you, be less like you)….”

or

“get over it”   is not what that person needs.  It’s what YOU need to keep YOU safe.

Preventing genocide and bullying is understanding and protecting another’s need for safety day-to-day.

That’s why I have always believed the pharmaceutical industry has missed the mark by not creating a magical pill:  an empathy pill.  A pill to offer the judgemental and  naive, the distant and disdainful of those who don’t like and don’t fit into other’s shoes.

When fear and the need to put someone else down overtakes us, we should all learn to say (to ourselves): ‘Here, have an empathy pill.’

Here, have an empathy pill: understand ME! This isn’t about YOU!” Though I’ve always imagined empathy pills shaped like pretty little colored shoes. For men, they can be black loafers and sneakers.  Get your prescription today!

These would be bitter pills to swallow because empathy is a toughie.

Do we really want to stop judging others and give up our safety?  Here are 12 things to consider:

  1. REALIZE you probably have NO idea what the other person is feeling.  Realize that knowing they are in ‘pain’ may be enough.
  2. DON’T say, “I know EXACTLY what you are going through, because do you really?  How can you?
  3. SHARE experiences that are similar but only later, just to let them know that they are not alone.
  4. ASK how you can help to make it better.  Listening helps.  Just listening – to them – not to yourself talking about yourself.
  5. ASK if it’s okay for you to offer a suggestion.  Don’t assume you know what someone else needs.
  6. ASK questions:  even if it’s just ‘tell me more’
  7. DON’T judge.  When you judge, you bully – it’s unkindness.
  8. LISTEN for the underlying emotion, pain and/or issue which you can probably relate to.
  9. DON’T make this about you.  It’s not.   Here’s why:  you don’t know.   What you did or what you would do just doesn’t matter.   You don’t have all the facts even if you’ve been told.
  10. TELL someone you care.  Ask them to tell you more.  Ask them how you can help.
  11. MOST OF ALL: Imagine what it would be like if…  How you would feel if….  How it must be to feel such pain…  What you want from someone if you felt….  What you would want or need from someone if….
  12. STAND UP AND REMIND others to also walk in another’s shoes.  Remind people inflicting pain on others does NOT lessen their own pain.  Not really.  Not for long.
Standing up to prevent bullying is a big deal.

Standing up to prevent bullying is a big deal.

There’s room for all of us in the shoe store of life.  IF we bother to understand someone else’s heel height.

What will you do to understand someone else’s pain and perspective?

Remember:  Only YOU can prevent Bullying

Remember: Only YOU can prevent Bullying

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Mourning: Hate, Fear, Heat, Need

16 Jul

“White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this – which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never – the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.”

James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time”

As the country broils in disbelief and outrage of Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin killing, as Paula Dean is vilified for her racial ‘slur’, I don’t think it’s as black and white as it seems.  Not our fear, hatred, dislike for others.  Or as Baldwin points out – ourselves.

Today is Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av (month) and the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple(s) in Jerusalem.  A day of mourning for Jews, a day to mourn what was lost, to acknowledge the yearn for what will connect and complete our sense of home, safety, a nation.

Yet Jews who mourn and yearn as a people are engaged in discord (to put it mildly): between Orthodox (particularly Haredi) and the secular/non-religious Jews.  A rift over common beliefs shatters the thread of a shared religion.  Rather a shared religion with different beliefs on how to ‘believe’ in that religion.

Naively, I like to think we don’t all have to believe the same things in the same way.   Especially when it comes to religion (and for me how I practice being Jewish).  But human nature has disproved this fact over the entirety of our existence.

Excavated stones from the Western Wall in Israel from the Roman destruction of the Temple.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B'Av

Excavated stones from the Western Wall in Israel from the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B’Av

In Baldwin’s quote:  substitute white and Negro for different groups, different people, and it can apply to any and all people across the world.

the fire next time

The cause for this hate, this distrust, this fear isn’t about the differences in others:  it’s about US learning to accept and like OURSELVES.

As a species we are filled with prejudice.  To kill that prejudice we need to discover what keeps it alive:  fear and insecurity.  

We’re instructed to grab out own oxygen mask before helping even our children in a plane ’emergency’.  It’s always a good reminder to take care of ourselves first.  To care for and about ourselves.

After all, we can’t like or accept anyone else until we like and accept ourselves.

Genocide and bullying are mankind’s perfection of predation. We need to remember: only YOU and I can prevent hate crimes.

FYI:  Tisha B’Av (a few) events over Jewish history from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B’Av:  and coincidence?  There are no coincidences:

  • The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 8-9, 5252 AM).[6]
  • On August 2, 1941, (Av 9, 5701 AM) SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution”. Almost 50% of the Jews on the face of the earth were captured and killed at that time.
  • On the 9th of Av, 5702 (July 23, 1942), the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.