DailyRi 008: How the Grinch Taught Me Empathy & Accountability
I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED THE GRINCH.
come to think about it, i usually loved the characters that everyone hated. Scar was my favorite character in the Lion King, and Angelica Pickles had my heart after the "cookie" episode of the Rugrats.
I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy lately. & how i can be a more empathetic person, towards myself & others. i’ve been listening to a whole lot of gary vee, & one of my favorite things about how he uses his platform is how frequently he discusses empathy. empathy is his go-to reaction for pretty much any behavior that would cause many of us to immediately judge. i wish more people - let alone well respected serial entrepreneurs - would use their platforms this way. what a breath of fresh air. it’s one thing to reserve judgment, but to empathize when we really want to judge? that takes a big person.
I WANT TO BE A BIG PERSON.
reflecting on my history with empathy, i realized that it was kind of uncommon for me to have loved all of the characters we were taught to hate. at first, i just assumed it was me being the same old rebellious me: wanting to be different, hating hype & not wanting to like the characters that everyone else favored. but that wasn’t it - i didn't give my childhood self enough credit for her ability to empathize deeply with the same people that others often overlook or condemn.
i mean really Think about it: The Grinch became bitter because a bully humiliated him in front of his entire elementary school class (including his crush), Scar resented Simba because he felt neglected and overlooked by him his entire life, & Angelica Pickles had a super uptight, negligent mother who didn't show her enough love. as a kid, I really about all of this, so I developed a soft spot for the people who I felt were generally misunderstood.
NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT, I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY. I Get it from my parents.
but even as a child, i empathy wasn’t true empathy without accountability. extending empathy with no accountability means that you are making excuses for someone’s harmful behavior because deep inside, you don’t expect much of them. I never excused the characters' behaviors, I just understood them better. you cannot truly empathize with people if you don’t see them for their strength, too.
When I became a high school educator after college, I had to quickly learn to balance empathy & accountability. I developed amazing relationships with even my most resistant students because they knew without a doubt that I loved them deeply, and that I had high standards for their performance. that I would never trade in one for the other. i truly believe it was this fine balance that helped me create a strong classroom culture in a fraction of the time that most first-year teachers do, especially in a school system riddled in teacher turnover & low ceilings for its youth.
BUT WE CAN ALL BE MORE EMPATHETIC, ESPECIALLY TOWARDS OURSELVES.
i’m learning that the judgments we often extend to others are the ones we are secretly condemning ourselves for. we can be so mean to ourselves. i used to be so harsh with myself, & i think part of me felt like being nice to myself was equated with lowering my standards or weakening my ambitions. I believed that having high expectations alone was equivalent to self-love. But I found it hard to forgive myself when I faltered. Now, I realize that self-forgiveness wouldn't be necessary with a truly empathetic, judgment free attitude. i am learning to extend empathy towards myself as i have always been able to do with others.
I’M TREATING MYSELF LIKE I’M MY BEST FRIEND UNTIL I BELIEVE IT.