You, Me, Empathy Provides Space for Vulnerability and Connection
by Jenna Spinelle on May 28, 2019.
Podcasts have a way of making both the podcaster and the listener feel connected — even though hosts are often alone in a recording studio and listeners are usually isolated by their headphones.
You, Me, Empathy shows the power that this form of connection can have. Created by Non Wels, the podcast explores the struggles we face in our day to day lives. He describes it as a place for vulnerability and kindness and a safe space for guests to share stories about mental health and embrace empathy together.
Non created the show while he was recovering from anorexia as a way to break down the cultural stigma surrounding mental health and explore how podcasting could help cultivate a sense of empathy among listeners.
I asked Non about his approach to the show and what he hopes listeners take from his conversations:
How did you arrive at the decision to tell your story and other people’s stories through a podcast? Was there anything in particular about the medium that would be a good match for the stories you wanted to tell?
Non: I love the medium of podcasting because it’s really just an excuse to cultivate conversation, and conversation that is about things that matter: our hearts! And there’s a deep connection when we can meet each other where we’re at, be present, listen actively, and just truly show up for another feely human. It’s the best. The podcast medium has allowed me to connect with so many remarkable people, and learn from so many remarkable people.
How do you get those guests to open up about their struggles and personal challenges?
Non: I make sure they know they are safe, welcome, and accepted. I listen actively, and stay present and attune with their emotions as best I can. Most guests know what they are getting into, but of course, that’s different than being in it. It can be scary, for sure, so I try to pepper in my story too and relate on a level that might make them feel less alone.
What do you hope people take from the show?
Non: I hope people see that embracing vulnerability, empathy, and emotional wayfinding are core parts of healing, personal growth, wellness, and recovery. I hope people realize they are not alone in their suffering, or their trauma, or their mental health struggles. I hope people know that there are safe spaces out there. I hope people get inspired to create safe spaces in their communities, among their friends and family. I hope to grow a global awareness for the beautiful feely human we all have in us.
What have you learned from the show?
Non: I’ve learned that boundaries are important. Ha. I’m a helper type, but I can totally take that too far and just want to help and help and help and totally forget my own needs and self-care. It’s not fair to me or to my guests and community if I try to attempt to take on their emotions. So, yes, boundaries are essential. I’m amazed by every one of my guests. I’m in awe of their capacity for empathy and vulnerability. It inspires me and reminds me I need to keep doing this. It’s my favorite thing ever.
What do you see the show going in the future?
Non: Upwards! I have some BIG ideas that I can’t speak to just yet, but I want to continue growing You, Me, Empathy. Maybe live shows someday. That would be awesome. I want to create more and more spaces for empathy, vulnerability, and emotional wayfinding. And I think there are a lot of avenues with which to do that.
About the author:
Jenna Spinelle is a writer and journalism instructor in State College, Pennsylvania. She is a leader of the PBC Virtual Chapter and hosts the Democracy Works podcast.