On the topic of Relatedness, Relationships, & Empathy
Healthy relatedness to others in our lives can be promoted when we stop judging what others ‘should’ or ‘should not’ feel, think, or do, based on our own beliefs, desires, and values. When we relate to others based upon these judgments, it alienates us from them and them from us. This is especially true for the people who are closest to us in our lives and this often becomes a core issue to be addressed in marriage or relationship counseling. When we find ourselves thinking, “if it were me, I would feel …” we should try to challenge that thought and replace it with another such as, “if I were you, I would feel….”. This is part of what it means to be empathic. Given our knowledge of the other person, we imagine how they approach things, how they typically think, what they value, how they likely will feel. We should try to imagine how the situation will be experienced by them and base our interactions with them upon this vicarious knowledge. We hold back our own experience of the situation as much as possible so that for that moment, we can relate to the experience of our partner/parent/child/friend in a way that builds close and healthy relationships.