Being vulnerable is hard. We’d all be lying if we didn’t say that, some days, waking up in 2017 has felt like a total nightmare. For many people, but absolutely not everyone, friends and family can be great resources if you’re in pain—but sometimes it takes a professional to help you acknowledge and work through your own feelings. Jay-Z seems to understand this perfectly: that sometimes, before you can even share your feelings, you may need some help noticing them and understanding why they are coming up for you in the first place.
The 47-year-old rapper talked specifically about therapy (and a boatload of other deeply personal topics) on his latest (and now Grammy-nominated) record 4:44. But in an interview with the New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Jay-Z goes into even more detail about how much he’s benefited from therapy:
I grew so much from the experience. But I think 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. You know, 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.
Jay-Z goes on to explain how being in therapy has changed his outlook on a big part of his childhood, and helped him look back on former bullies with compassion:
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.”
Everyone deserves compassion, but it can be hard to extend that compassion to others if you don’t first acknowledge your own biases. In any case, I hope that Jay-Z speaking out about the benefits of seeing mental health professionals helps debunk certain taboos about it: that therapy is silly, or only for privileged white people, or that being rich and famous will solve all your problems. None of these things are true! Trust Hov on this one.