In fact we may find it useful to study the art of method acting presently. While our goals are much different than that of an actor, we can learn a thing or two about melding our emotions with an acquaintance in need. This method acting is a technique used by actors to create in their own self the thoughts and feelings of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances. Probably one of the more extreme cases happened in 1999 when American film star Jim Carrey used this technique during the production of Man on the Moon. He became so consumed by the character that he appeared to partially lose his own identity while off camera.
This is clearly not the goal we have in mind. However, the technique is quite applicable as a sort of procedure for empathy. Often times we may draw upon emotions, which we have experienced in the past. It is important that we do not attempt to recall our experience as we perceived it through our own eyes. Instead we are observing the emotions that our colleague is experiencing, and we recall a time when we experienced this same emotion. When we have our own experience recalled in our mind we may then recreate the actual feeling from the past to the present. The problem that we faced must not even be remotely similar to our acquaintance's problem. It is the emotion that we feel from them, which we are drawing to present.
Now that we are feeling the near exact emotion as our friend we are ready to see the world through their eyes. For it is true that once we share the emotion we share their reality. To them their current situation is most grievous. On most occassions we find our self trapped by our own perspective. To us their situation might not be all that bad. Herein lies the failure of empathy. We do not know what it is like to be them. Each of us is created as a unique individual. We are all at different points in our life, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is imperative that we throw off our perspective and reach back in our own self to find the emotion that our friend is feeling. Henry David Thoreau once said that, "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" Along our leadership journey we will master empathy. First, however, we must find the array of emotions in us and begin to see the humanity in our neighbor. We can bind our selves together, finding true mutual respect and mutual benefit through this empathy.
Copyright © Robert Clinton Chedester 2013