How Empathy Helps to Make Peaceful Relationships Possible
PHIL: Dear Maude,
Your pleasure is my pleasure, and my pleasure is my own. These two coexist; they alternate and do not interfere with each other. It is a consequence of recognizing you as an equal, while knowing that your experiences and responses are completely your own and unknowable to me, as well as having some understanding of how it is for you. Maybe it happens through empathy or Theory of Mind or mirror neurons or connection.
I think the way I experience your pleasure as mine is how we have this peaceful relationship. It means there is no compromise in the sense of giving something up. Of course, an important part is that you feel and act the same way, and this is how I can feel that my pleasure is my own.
Even though I can write all of this down, I still feel confounded by the experience. It is as if we have some secret formula that is not available to other people – and yet it is. It has happened because we agreed to do it – and yet there was no agreement, no RFP, no letter of intent, no contract. We stumbled into it, fully formed – and yet it is something we do with intention.
One place this works is in bed. Your arousal turns me on, and that turns you on and it builds from there, with each of us being completely in sync with the other and creating that experience of there being an “us” coexisting with my (by now, very aroused) sense of self, and there is no sense of a plan, a roadmap; we just live in this timeless ecstatic space and enjoy the movie.
I tell that story because it is an extreme example of how we are, day to day. We hang out together, joyful in each other’s company, joyful in our own private worlds, as all these movies play.So many ways to love and be loved. So many possibilities to serve and be served #relationships Click To Tweet
MAUDE: After reading Phil’s description of our magical connection and the way of being together that we share, it feels important to point out how this applies to every deep relationship.
At the core of our relationship is a gentle flow of love, a clear intention to support the best for the other, and a link that exists not only when we are present together, but when we are acting as separate single entities as well. These same qualities exist with all my intimate relationships, although with Phil and I we also share living space, finances, and a deep sexual connection.
In each instance, a profound commitment exists, often unspoken, but palpable nevertheless, to always act for the best possible outcome for each other.
The depth of these connections often takes my breath away. This kind of relating, which when all is said and done is a familial relationship, opens up a door for me to truly experience who I am, while at the same time marveling at the myriad possibilities of expression that all these unique manifestations of personality present.
I recently had some difficult days where I felt off-course and disappointed in myself, my actions and my progress through life. The outpouring of appreciation, acknowledgment and friendship that was offered to me when I shared my distress was a wonderful reminder of just how important communicating and sharing our feelings is.
They reminded me, as well, of how destructive judgment can be, whether directed at ourselves (in this case) or others. So, let’s put aside our tendencies to judge, and move forward fearlessly toward that choice of peace and harmony, and the honor and respect for each unique individual, including ourselves. Our minds are a wonder when applied to the pragmatic questions of how we can best be of service and how to make the wisest choice in each opportunity we are offered.
So many ways to love and be loved. So many possibilities to serve and be served. And only one requirement in order to experience this marvel of existence: to choose to live this way, to relate this way, to be this way.
Photo credit: Phil Mayes
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