Empathy, a word so light but full of meaning, in my thoughts I embrace empathy as a master key to overcome some life challenges. The ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes to connect with their feeling.
Kenya Television Network (KTN) televises a program “my day with you” to give you a glimpse into walking in the shoes of those who are successful in what they do picking subjects from within the country and “undercover bosses” televised on DSTV.
On a different real life story, President Kagame practices the same by having everyone participate in general cleanliness in the streets of Kigali once every month, granting participants an opportunity to walk in the shoes of those entrusted to keep Kigali clean on a regular basis.
How can we apply empathy to attain the best of us?
Placing ourselves in other people’s shoes gives us ability to understand matters from their perspective, it allows embodying them and perceiving matters the way they do, (we apparently all have this capability within us which runs on auto pilot at the back of our minds, an example is when you are thinking of family when you are in the office or the office when you are at home or even that trigger that makes you miss someone whose not there with you because our mind is with them somewhere virtually.)
This natural ability can be capitalized on and directed by use of empathizing with others to our own advantage, this avails to us the experiences that exist outside of us and in other persons.
Factors that deny us the ability to empathize.
This are thoughts held in mind about a ‘classification’ of people, a perception of other based on race, tribe, and economic class, Or any other form that clusters individuals with a common characteristic different from what we possess. These classifications are based on the virtue of individuals belonging to groupings we have in our minds or simply by perceptions we have already formed about them, by doing this, we limit our ability to access other people’s experiences as well as deny ourselves the opportunity to learn and borrow from that self-created “ mental ” grouping.
Some other factors that we use to form this groupings and fall under this topic of prejudice are -:
- Political grouping alignments and segregation.
Other factors besides the above mentioned that contribute to the same but fall outside of prejudice, tribalism and political segregation include but not limited to -:
- Judgement of others or self.
Identify an individual you look up to and admire a character in them, anyone, it could be a role model, a friend, parent, lecturer or a position you admire.
Visualize yourself dressed in their cloths as they and allow your imagination to experience and go through the situations they face.
To perfect this, swap the imaginary shoes you wear for the shoes the persons you admire wear. (Take time and list individuals you can think of and their specific roles). Pick one individual at a time and ensure you are as true as you can be to get the closest experience you can get to this individual.
Take for example a musician you admire and would wish to be, familiarize yourself with a song you admire done by them, find time to practice on your own to get comfortable, go further and enact their role in your favorite “karaoke joints”, allow yourself to live in the moment envisioning the performance, ensure you understand the story behind the song and the meaning of the lyrics used.
For assistance with living in the moment, refer to a previous write up within the blog highlighting on living in the moment.
Of course challenges are expected, say for example fear of the crowd and fear of being judged, but then again envision the person you are “borrowing “their shoes and observe how they deal with the same.
Isn’t life just awesome when you are filled with capabilities that show themselves when you know whose shoes to wear and at what times. Some people’s shoes are just awesome to wear and even better, you can keep them if your feet feel comfortable in them. No wonder they say it’s a world of possibilities; that is if you know where to look.
Frank Odhiambo – Mind Grid Perspectives