December 10, 2013
Empathising with our partner is one of those essentials to a happy and healthy relationship.
We feel connected with another if we feel he or she takes the time and presence to be there for us and try to understand us.
By “understanding” I mean not only our thoughts but also our feelings. Getting a sense of how another feels is called empathy. Research has shown that the way we empathise with another is by way of our resonance circuits in our brain. By using sensory information, these circuits create representations of the others mind, including their emotions.
The way empathy works is that the mirror neurons in our resonance circuits pick up emotions from our partner and translate them into our own emotions. When we feel them in us, we recognise them and can understand what our partner is feeling.
However, we must be familiar with our own emotional world in order to map clearly the emotions of our partner.
And this is often the challenge for men. Men are not encouraged to spend time getting in touch with their emotions. But, if you are not in touch with your own sadness, worry, anger, frustration, disappointment, feeling of overwhelm and other feelings, then you won’t be able to “feel” these in your partner.
So the route to empathising with your partner needs to start with getting in touch with your own feelings. As you grow in your ability to know yourself, you become more and more receptive to knowing your partner.
More on understanding yourself using the Enneagram next week.