Especially as we get close to the holidays, we could all stop obsessing about ourselves and start thinking about others more.
How can we serve them better?
How can we be more valuable?
How can we listen more?
I try to ask these questions to myself every morning to set the theme for the day as I groggily sit on my bed at 5 am ready to plunge into the day.
Now, I’m not sure whether it’s confirmation bias or what, but lately I’m stumbling on a ton of writing that talks about this idea…
How learning more about yourself, and becoming more empathetic towards your own emotions and feelings, conversely helps you empathize and connect with others better.
A few examples:
- Copywriter Chris Haddad says: “You’re not special and that’s amazing”.
- Another legend in direct response copy, John Carlton writes: “All the good writers I know are drenched with emotional self-knowledge and empathy for the emotional experiences of others.”
- Real estate agent Robert Ringer says: “every human being interprets everything in life to suit himself.”
- And zen philosopher Dogen states: “To study the self is to forget the self”.
Last week I also wrote about the acting method that involves experiencing a character’s own emotions to step into their shoes.
So what’s really behind understanding yourself that helps you understand others?
I believe it’s the fact that when you carefully and methodically look at yourself, at your reactions and how your emotions arise and pass, you work out your emotional muscle.
(it’s what you do in Vipassana meditation which I practice daily too)
The stronger that emotional muscle grows, the less you have to focus on it and the more automatic synchronizing on those feelings and emotions becomes.
Your emotional muscle memory builds up.
And in turn, empathizing with others gets easier.
I think that’s what that Zen philosopher meant by “forgetting” the self.
You’re not absorbed in your own selfish perspective. Instead, you become selfless – more open and receptive.
Anyway, point of it being… if anytime, at least for the holidays – use some of your time to learn more about yourself…
… and then start directing some of your energy and mental resources outwardly.
It’s a great practice for writing better copy too.
P.S. I read a TON of stuff. And post about it on my Instagram daily. If you’re into this sort of nerdy ideas, let’s connect on there too. It’d be cool to learn what you’re up to and who you are.