Posted in Social Commentary

Transcript of Episode 2 – Method for Gaining Empathy


Podcast Recording

Welcome to another edition of Gathering Wool.

I am your host Shonda Rene

The Mission of this podcast is to get people to:

think in more positive ways;

Interact with others in positive ways;

Look at unexamined beliefs and feelings in new ways as they relate to life and recent events; and
to encourage engaged reflections starting with the source of the issue at hand

It’s sort of like you all are on my personal journey of growth. I do this through random musings that I ruminate on throughout the week. It could be about absolutely anything that springs up through my day that stays on my mind and gets me on that road of self-examination that I mentioned a moment ago. 

For this episode we’re going to explore a thought that sprung up as I was watched Bobby Brown’s new reality show, Bobby Brown Every Little Step.  The show is a look into Bobby’s personal struggles and his family life. This was Season 1 Episode 5

The segment involved Alicia, Bobby’s wife of 10 years, she was preparing herself for Bobby’s tour with New Edition and how that could impact his sobriety. The last time he was on tour with them he did an excessive amount of drugs and alcohol and ended up having a heart attack that he walked away from with a stint as a souvenir.

In this segment, Alicia went to a Reiki Master who said something that got the wheels of thought turning. He listed a number of challenges she has faced and told her she’d beat the challenges and emotions of fear and anxiety brought on by anything headed her way. 

I wondered how she’d continue to rise to the challenge of overcoming the pain and suffering she’s experienced should the unfortunate happen. 

One word instantly came to mind. And that was acceptance. I had drawn the conclusion that acceptance was the only way to move beyond devastating events of life. Events that are beyond our control, or events that absolutely can’t be changed. 

As I thought about it I challenged myself to try to get into a mental space that would allow me to get close to how it would feel to get to that place of acceptance. To see how my body would respond and if I could actually just accept a devastating event like the loss of a child. I have friends and family members who have lost children so I have been close to that anguish. But being close to it isn’t living in it. 

Many years back I went through a very difficult divorce. One where I was actually reeling from behavior and actions that many men have gone through in terms of parental alienation syndrome. Ever since I got through that situation with the love and respect of my children intact, I’ve had the resounding thought that only the loss of one of my children could move me back into that place of utter despair. The reason I felt so strongly about that is that simply thinking about such a loss made my heart beat faster, my stomach became ill, and I had to rush the thought from my mind. 

Thankfully it was just a thought that I could push away and replace with a reflection of how I felt the moment I had acknowledged that I had overcome the extreme domestic mental abuse and on rare occasions the physical abuse I suffered for years. I felt unstoppable. The anxiety and fear that I’d lived with all of my life that made me ripe for such a relationship was no more. I felt light. I felt new. But at the same time, I realized that losing either one of my children was the absolute single thing that would break me. Right now at this moment, I am praying that these contemplations do not manifest such an event. Life can be tragically ironic that way. 

But I wanted to share this because it’s the way I try to process things. I try to mentally step into whatever situation I am struggling to understand in an honest way that would provoke true feelings and reactions and I question them and try to answer as honestly as I possibly can. 

Why do I feel this way? 

Why do I think this or that? 

Is that thought even true? And 

are these feelings or these thoughts rooted in love or fear?  

This is my method for developing empathy or simply viewing things from another perspective that could be just as true as my own. 

This has helped me to embrace or to give grace to more people, I did not say everyone of course. And that is not because it’s without effort. It’s because there are doors that simply don’t open. Or at least they do not open to me and I accept that. 

I want to also say that it’s a slow process that our fast-moving world doesn’t always allow for. 

It’s a pause that has to be deliberately taken and the necessary time spent to feel that the best effort was made while leaving room for the possibility that one can do more. 

It’s also not to say I always express a cum-ba-ya kinda personality. I have my moments, and I cuss like a sailor and always have since elementary school. It’s a very bad habit that I’ve always chastised myself for but dammit, sometimes those words are all ya got. 

While I’m thinking about this another thought sprung to mind. How much I appreciate access to celebrity shows like Bobby Brown Every Little Step and while the Red Table Talk has suffered some challenges as of late, the similarity of both shows inviting viewers into some level of transparency into celebrity lives with the hope of helping their audience improve their own lives in some way is why I am pulling in the Red Table Talk. 

As a side note, I have a sincere disdain for celebrity worship and am working on fine-tuning my language when someone asks if I like this or that celebrity to be specific and speak to the work they produce rather than the individual. The work is true and is what stays constant, while the person can be a chameleon and is prone for change in any direction. 

I feel that shows like those, that show black celebrities, in particular, extending themselves in ways that allow us to explore experiences and unexamined beliefs from as open a space as might be possible is admirable. 

While they are reality shows and go only so far into reality, what they do bring up are real struggles and situations that we all can take in and use as yardsticks against the value of love that should be the foundation of everyone’s existence. Self-examination from that foundation is key to changing the world for the better. Seeing vulnerability in action is important. Vulnerability is naked truth and a sacred gift from one person to another. 

Keep in mind that not all reality shows are created equal. Some are foolishness for the sake of foolishness. But I think these two shows strive to do some good for people

So I am going to just leave it right there. 

If you enjoyed this episode please be sure you subscribe and follow or whatever the method is for the platform you use to stay in touch with what’s going on with Gather Wool.

Until next time, always choose love. 

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