It’s the year 2020 and there’s an invisible monster ravaging the entire planet. People are forced to stay in their homes for fear of their safety. There’s political unrest and the news seems to be getting worse every day. You’ve been forced to take some unusual precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, so you’ve fortified your home with hand sanitizer, masks, and other essentials. You anticipate not being able to go out and see your friends, your coworkers, or your family for a long time, so you create a playlist on your favorite streaming service and start chipping away at all the episodes you suddenly have time to watch. The world has stopped and been turned upside down; and you’re witnessing it happen in real-time.
This might sound like the premise of a very campy sci-fi/horror movie, but unfortunately, it’s been the reality of the entire world. The past few years have seemed so surreal and time has gone by so quickly. So many people have lost so much, and now that we’re finally seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, we’re all taking inventory of what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained, and what we’ve learned.
So what have we learned?
Is there anything that sticks out as a good lesson for all of us to take away from our isolation? Is there any proverbial moral to our story?
While there are probably many things that we, as human beings, can learn, one of the biggest concepts that the world has begun learning and relearning is how to actively practice empathy.
Empathy, simply put, is the act of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.” Another definition, from Webster’s English Dictionary, states that empathy is, “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” It means that you are actively attempting to understand where someone else is coming from. You may not fully understand their situation, but you can empathize with them, and try to help them as best you can.
There are so many simple ways that a person can practice empathy in their everyday life. Some great examples are:
- Actively listening to someone and asking challenging, but sensitive questions. A person might also give examples of situations that they had been through in order to reinforce their understanding.
- You may have gone through a similar situation to the person you’re talking to, and even though it might not be the same as their situation, you can use that to help yourself understand their position.
- Communication of your understanding and accepting of a person’s emotional state can also go a great way to showing empathy towards a person who is struggling.
Regardless of a person’s situation, or the situation you may be in personally, it is important that we all realize that we are all experiencing things in real-time. As the late Prince Rogers Nelson once said, “we’re gathered here today to get through this thing called ‘life.’” This means that, even if you’re struggling; and even if you’re going through a darker time, you are not alone. We are all in this together, and we can all help each other see a little bit of hope in the darkness.
While it might not be the easiest thing to do, in the moment, take some time to be empathetic to others. More importantly, take some time to be empathetic to yourself. If you’re going through some tough times, let yourself do exactly that: go through them. Keep going forward. Be kind to yourself and to others. Reach out to others if you need help, and if you are able to, give back to others who need help, themselves. If you’re struggling, know that there are people out there who are struggling as well and that you are not alone in this.
When we all support one another, we can do incredible things, so let’s do that. Let’s support one another and see how incredible our lives will become.
Isaac Benrubi || Data Analyst