Recently, one of my old friends made a dedication to her friends – Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Yes, you can say I know Kim K. by the third degree. Anyhoo, we all know the mess Kim has been in and the recent breakdown Kanye had.
So, I shared her thoughts with some friends (which was a mistake on my part and something I probably won’t ever do again) and I explained how I wasn’t really a fan of Kim, but I can empathize with her because this is a trying time. Behind the glitz, glamour, and reality cameras, are two people dealing with real issues.
One of my friends mistook my post and did something rather interesting. One, she completely missed the point, which really annoyed me. Two, she became rather defensive, which was confusing. Three, her response was quite nasty, which was inexplicable.
She honestly thought I wanted her to like Kim and Kanye and I’m not entirely sure where that came from since I never said nor implied that.
Her reaction bothered me on a few levels but I had to think about the deeper issue. No one likes to think of themselves in less than a positive light. Sure, we all might have self-depreciating humor from time to time. I’ll shade myself before I’ll let another bitch do it.
How, as a society, did we become so desensitized where we can no longer empathize with someone, regardless if we like them, when they go through struggles?
When I started meditating earlier this year, there is one meditation I always go to – the commonality of suffering. It’s when you think of different scenarios (pretty bad ones, like losing a family member or a friend) and how would you feel about it. When you think of someone you like in those scenarios, you tend to feel empathy. When it’s someone you’re neutral towards, it’s the same.
But when it’s someone you don’t like, it’s the true test of character. Can you empathize with someone you truly can’t stand?
I don’t like Kim. I don’t hate her. I don’t love her. She’s like an appendix to me; she’s just there. But this is a woman who went through a robbery (which was legit) and now her husband is having a mental crisis, all within a matter of weeks. Both episodes played out in front of the entire world. Even if you can’t stand neither of them, you have to admit, that’s pretty messed up for even one person to go through.
And it’s not even just Kimye. As a society, I think we’ve become so engrossed in what we’re doing that we have little empathy for anyone else. Why should I care about them when I have my own issues? When was so and so when I was going through my ish? And it goes on. And it becomes a cycle of pettiness and meanness.
I’ll give a personal example – my sister-in-law. I really don’t like her. I think I did like her at one point until she started doing some really foul things to my in-laws. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have both breasts removed.
Now, I didn’t cheer. I didn’t celebrate in any form. I wasn’t like, ‘Well, if she didn’t…’ I went to my pastor, shared my story, asked for spiritual guidance, and he gave it to me. I prayed for her, for my brother-in-law, and for a speedy recovery.
Was it hard? At first, it was. Again, this is someone I don’t like. Even after what she’s gone through, I still don’t care for her. But I have empathy for her. Cancer is no joke no matter who you are.
We rely on memes to convey feelings. We use shade instead of talking it out with the person. And worse case scenario, we even elect that person to be POTUS (except me…I didn’t vote for him, damnit).
One thing I have noticed in this new society of meanness is that, the ones that tend to convey the ugliest emotions tend not to have good lives themselves. You can’t be about love and light when there is darkness within you. Is it your job? Your weight? Your lack of ambition? Your relationship? What is holding you back? What if the negative energy you keep receiving is because it’s what you’re putting out?
And just maybe…just maybe, you have no idea you’re doing it.
I ask the next time you want to channel your inner Petty White and put on your favorite Petty Pendergrass track, ask yourself is being negative worth it? Is spewing that ultimately going to do you favors? Chances are, it won’t.
Here’s some homework – try to have empathy for someone you don’t like. It’s a difficult task and trust me, I had to deep well into my soul for clarity but it’ll be worth it. You’ll feel a weight you never knew you carried, lifted off your shoulders.