“Understanding” Versus “Empathizing” in Regards to Racism
Clay Rivers

Neurophysiologists will tell you that feelings and emotions ALWAYS precede thought! In many respects, a person’s reactions/behaviours are shaped by feeling, emotion, instinct and intuition. This is inevitable because ‘emotion/feeling’ is the body’s quickest way of telling you what might be happening (in fact the speed of feeling and emotion is regarded as an evolutiory protection against danger for which ‘thinking’ is far too slow!). What’s missing in your ‘thoughtful’ piece is Emotional Intelligence – in part, the capacity to be aware of and then regulate your feelings – which in turn may (or may well not) lead you to ‘empathise’. Emotional intelligence is important because it focuses on the self as a source of data which may help understand what is going on. If (as several others have said) ‘I’ can never truly know what its like to be ‘you’, it becomes really important to know and understand myself! That then allows me to start thinking about what my ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’ might tell me about me, you – and pertinently – what is happening between ‘us’ (our interactions/behaviours and so on).

Thought provoking piece!! – thanks.

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