Jerry Seinfeld points out how while watching animal documentaries, we are always rooting for the main character.
If a documentary is made from a gazelle’s point of view, we are rooting for the gazelle to outrun the lion. In another show shot from the lion’s point of view, we are rooting for the lion to catch the gazelle and feed its family.
People always get behind the main character of a story.
What happens to our favourite stories when they are told from the perspective of their villans? When you have a disagreement, what happens to you when you hear the story from the other person’s perspective?
A toddler bursts into tears when he doesn’t get what he wants.
In his little head, another kid has done him a grave injustice by taking away his toy. However, he doesn’t have the words to explain this to the people around him. He expects his parents to read his mind and to feel whatever he feels. When this doesn’t happen, he is devastated.
We eventually grow out of this tendency, but not entirely. When some people are denied what they feel they deserve, they sulk and grow cold. They then expect their loved ones to read their minds and interpret their needs. When this doesn’t happen, they sink further into their personal tragedy.
We don’t take the wishes of toddlers seriously. More so, when they are grown-ups. The solution is to explain what we feel in words. Putting our feelings in words helps others feel what we feel, and gives them an opportunity to understand us.
It is not easy to explain our feelings. Our feelings are vague, but appear clear. They are fleeting, but appear permanent. They are contradictions, but appear consistent. Yet, the price we pay for another’s empathy is the hard work to explain ourselves.