- Getty Images/Dave Kotinsky
- Rapper Jay-Z told The New York Times he’s gone to therapy and benefitted from it.
- He started to understand where his difficult emotions were coming from.
- He also learned to depersonalize others’ aggression, because he realized they’re dealing with their own difficult emotions.
Rapper Jay-Z says he’s gone to therapy and benefitted from the process.
In an interview with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Jay-Z said he “grew so much from the experience.”
He went on: “The most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. And just being aware of it. Being aware of it in everyday life puts you at such a … you’re at such an advantage.”
What’s more, Jay-Z said he learned how to deal with other people’s aggression or difficult behavior:
“You realize that if someone’s racist toward you, it ain’t about you. It’s about their upbringing and what happened to them, and how that led them to this point. You know, most bullies bully. It just happen. Oh, you got bullied as a kid so you trying to bully me. I understand.
“And once I understand that, instead of reacting to that with anger, I can provide a softer landing and maybe, ‘Aw, man, is you O.K.?’ I was just saying there was a lot of fights in our neighborhood that started with ‘What you looking at? Why you looking at me? You looking at me?’ And then you realize: ‘Oh, you think I see you. You’re in this space where you’re hurting, and you think I see you, so you don’t want me to look at you. And you don’t want me to see you.'”
Jay-Z added that many young men, in order to survive, “shut down all emotions.” Possibly alluding to troubles in his own marriage, he said “even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can’t connect,” and from there, things like infidelity happen.
Understanding the genesis of your emotions – something Jay-Z said he learned through therapy – is no small feat.
In her 2003 book “Radical Acceptance,” psychologist and Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach uses the metaphor “dogs in the cellar” to describe how our past experiences continue to influence our behavior today. If you ignore those experiences and try to push them back down – i.e. locking the dogs in the cellar – they only get more powerful. The key is to accept and even embrace the pain, allowing it to dissipate.
The next step is understanding that others are necessarily dealing with their own dogs in the cellar – that, as Jay-Z says, “it’s about their upbringing and what happened to them.”
Empathy for yourself and for the people you interact with makes life a lot easier.