As the Christmas season quickly rolls through, I want to take a moment to be intentional in addressing the vulnerability of this season. I do not know about you, but I have learned a lot over the last 12 months; About myself, about others, about God – and I have come to the conclusion that while none of those things are necessarily like the other directly, we all have inherent similarities that make us relatable to one another. It is in our relatability that we are relatable – meaning, what we go through and how we experience it, brings us closer together with each other when we are willing to express it. I get better because of what you go and have gone through and are willing to share. Likewise, you get better because of what I have gone through and am going through, and what I am willing to share.
This past week I just hit my 100th like on WordPress. Since blogging now for over a year and a half I just got to the point where 100 people like my content! That reality is a mixed bag of emotions for me partly because, I thought I would be further along in this journey by now, and because, I am starting to see the value I bring to my niche. I am willing to be open in this post by saying that I have taken some time off, not from working, but from building.
What I mean is, I have put a lot of effort into this website, and no one wants to open a store that no one wants anything from. Over the last few weeks, I had gotten to a place where I was working from the perspective of keeping busy, maintaining, and cultivating new content, but I was not building from the perspective of cultivating relationships, building trust, trying to grow my viewership, or any of the other business aspects of blogging that I am really into. I was not even going to share this story but, I thought about quitting and giving up this year. Not to get too heavy on you, but I honestly did not know how valuable what I was providing really was.
There are plenty of holistic/manifestation/fitness/Christian bloggers out there – the market is saturated with opinion. Sometimes you can think your opinion matters all day long, but if no one is acknowledging it, who are you talking to? A leader can only be a leader if he/she has followers. A content creators’ content is only as valuable as its palatability. I can write the best post ever with all the value I can possibly put into it, but to use a food analogy, why would I make a feast with no dinner guests?
Sometimes this life journey can feel like one that you are on all by yourself. Especially as a business owner, and especially this year in particular; we need to feel supported and encouraged sometimes in order to continue and press forward. So many small businesses have gone out of business in America and throughout the world for various reasons this year, and it is because their spirits were crushed. The severity of oppression of creativity that took place this year was enough for a lot of people to throw in the towel, or at least consider it. Showing your appreciation for someone is the true essence of life and the true essence of Christmas. The best way we can appreciate others is to consider where they have come from and where they are right now.
I bring this up, because I think one of the best things, we can do in this season is empathize with each other. The next two weeks are going to fly by, and before you know it, it will be January 2021. I do not want myself, or any of my readers to miss out on this moment to be intentional in sowing good seeds in this short window of opportunity. What I mean is, while compassion is in the air, I would encourage you to be intentional about being compassionate.
This is what I would consider a rare breakthrough opportunity for someone to be able to launch themselves further into their compelling future by doing something with a reverberating impact. How you love on others, how you are willing to bless others, and how you are willing to express care for others in this season in particular, will set you up for that same type of love, blessing, and care to flow back into your life at a later point in time.
I just think that empathy is needed in this season. Not sympathy, empathy. The difference is this: sympathy says “I feel bad for you”, while empathy says “I can connect to what it is you are experiencing”. The distinction is important because you can sympathize from a distance. You do not have to know a person to feel bad for them. You do not have to welcome being uncomfortable into your life when you are looking down at someone. As long as you are judging others you will not have time to reflect on yourself. The Bible says that before we are to address the speck in someone else’s eye, we are to address the log in our own. Among other things, this means becoming more relatable.
The more I live through, the more I learn. And the more I am willing to share what I learn, the more relatable I become. The more relatable I am the more empathy I can have. Relatability produces empathy because while the experience may vary, the emotion will be the same. The emotion is important because emotion produces reality. If you are upset you will be upset. If you are happy you will be happy. Your emotions are what you embody. They are how you manipulate your kinetic life energy.
The root word for empathy is emotion – your path to understanding is through emotions. The root word for sympathy is symbolic – your path to understanding is through symbolism. I do not mean to give sympathy a bad rap, but symbolism is not always relatable.
A couple weeks ago, I grabbed a meal with a few associates, and we were having a conversation about outer space. Anyone who has been a reader of mine for any length of time knows I have an affinity for cartoon and animation; So, talking about stars and planets are somewhat right up my alley. In an effort to relate a point to the conversation however, I made a Steven Universe reference without fully considering my audience, and while the reference was accurate [agreeable], it did not land with everyone because it was not relatable (I know, not everyone has watched Steven Universe, who would have thought? Not me!). When you can only sympathize and not empathize, you are not being the most relatable to the person you are supposedly expressing your compassion towards.
Something that I have been doing for the last several months is, I have been interacting with every one who interacts with me on my website. So, if someone likes and or comments on one of my posts, I have been intentionally looking for ways to interact with them as well. I have been doing this because I like to interact with people, but also because I wanted more people to start interacting with me too. Ultimately it looks like it is paying off, but the essence behind the action is a compassion and empathy for the craft.
I always talk about how much blogging means and has meant to me, and part of expressing that appreciation is by showing it to and for someone else. I love to see new comments and engagements and want to share that value and experience with others by commenting and engaging with their content. And I can relate as a content creator and businessman; that the true testament to your creative ability is the community you create around it and the people who engage with it.
As we look forward to Christmas this year, all I want for you and me is empathy. I want everyone to be able to care for what the people around them are going through. Be willing to wear your neighbor’s shoes. Yes, they may look uncomfortable, you wear a size 8 while your neighbor wears a size 6 however, a shoe is a shoe. You do not need to put a shoe on to see if its comfortable or functional. Some of the people around you may be wearing uncomfortable shoes with no choice in the matter. You can play your role this holiday season by showing compassion for what others may be experiencing. It may not be the same as your struggle, but if you are in a position to help, put yourself in a posture of willing to do so.
What good is could, if could has no will to do so. In other words, you being able to help, and you actually helping are two totally different things. Make sure your intentionality matches your ability. Give the best you can, and not the least. I believe that if you are willing to lean into being more compassionate and empathetic specifically as this year closes out, you will be sowing seeds that will bare much fruit!