Understanding Your Daily Focus
I spend a lot of time online, part of it is for work, doing
research, and part of it is the result of growing up in the internet age.
Everything I do is increasingly online, and after a year of global isolation,
it can feel like the majority of our social interactions are happening behind a
keyboard as well.
There is a lot that I love about the age of information. I
love having access to the thoughts of billions of people from across time and
space. I have long thought of the internet as Carl Jung’s collective
subconscious brought to life. It is a place where we can connect, learn, and
Unfortunately, the anonymity provided by hiding behind a screen means that people can often be cruel, more so than they would ever dare to be in person. It’s easy to excuse ourselves from this behavior because when we inevitably become cruel, we like to believe that the people in that particular instance deserved it. But that’s how everyone feels.
In this week’s Daily Focus, I want to look at empathy, at
what it is, why it’s hard, and why we need it.
Saturday, August 14
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are
unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that
taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that
connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”–James Baldwin
One of the best ways to empathize with people who are different from you is to read their stories. We are so lucky to have access to millions of new and undiscovered voices. It is easy in this day and age to listen to people directly, rather than just those who are reporting on the people. Read books, read blogs, read personal pleas.
Sunday, August 15
“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another
human being not just with my hands but with my heart.” –Tahereh
At its core, this is what connection is. We can be there for each other not just physically, but emotionally. The heart, the center of emotions, the place where we store our love and compassion, is the part of us that must be reaching out to others all the time.
Monday, August 16
“For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not
even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for
someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred
echoes.” –Milan Kundera
As an empath, this really speaks to me. I am able to
shoulder so much pain when it’s my own, but when it comes to the pain of people
I love, or even of strangers, it feels deeper and more tragic. This used to
cause me distress when I was younger, but I think of it now as a blessing. It’s
not always easy to empathize with people, even for empaths. Take the time today
to try and understand someone you otherwise would not.
Tuesday, August 17
“Are you proud of yourself tonight that you have
insulted a total stranger whose circumstances you know nothing about?”
When it comes to online snark and bullying, this quote from To
Kill A Mockingbird, written more than half a century ago, before the birth
of the internet, still rings the truest to me. The truth is, we don’t ever know
what someone else is going through. Tearing someone down to feel better about
ourselves creates holes in the Universe where darkness and pain can seep in.
Wednesday, August 18
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a
smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act
of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” –Leo
On the flip side of yesterday’s quote; if we can understand
how much pain can be caused just by our words and comments, we must also know
that we have the ability to create joy and encourage people to feel better
about themselves, the world, and others. Using that energy to lift others up
instead of putting them down can create ripple effects of kindness.
Thursday, August 19
“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone,
ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles
the one I am about to criticize?” –Marcus Aurelius
When Carl Jung talks about the shadow self, he says that the
thing we judge harshest in others is often a perceived moral failing in the
self. Next time you feel anger or hatred, ask yourself how far removed from
that thought, moment, or feeling you really are.
Friday, August 20
“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life, you will have been all of these.” –George Washington Carver
It’s important to remember that no one is all good or bad and that being wrong doesn’t make someone an evil person. It just makes them wrong, something we have all been, and will all be again, many times throughout our lives.
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