Empathy - Please Take Your Shoes Off

Empathy: Please Take Your Shoes Off - Cheryl Woolstone Counselling Blog

Take your shoes off and transform your relationship

Taking your shoes off means that you have to suspend your world view, cross over the bridge into your partner’s world and imagine what they might be feeling.

All you can do is guess. It is the intention to try and understand what your partner is experiencing that makes the impact.

This is Empathy, the final step in the IMAGO Dialogue process. To empathize is to try to recreate the experience of the other person within your imagination.

Let the experience of the other deeply affect you. Know that you can be in contact with your thoughts and feelings and allow the experience of the other to soak in.

Here comes the challenge.

Your partner has very strong, negative emotions and you seem to have triggered or caused them.

The instinctual response is to defend yourself and then counterattack. In that moment, being empathic is the furthest thing from your mind.

To respond with empathy requires enormous discipline, maturity and consciousness. The capacity for empathy is natural but there are variations among individuals. The good news is that empathy is a skill that can be developed.

How many sessions will it take?

Reasonable question. Easy answer.

The ability of a couple to empathize with each other is the indication that I look for in determining the answer to this question.

Failures of empathy and compassion are the root of all distance, conflict and dissatisfaction.

A couple who consciously begins to practice empathic listening will not be in need of long term couples counselling.

Listen closely to the sound of empathy at work.

“What you have told me makes sense. I am very moved by it. I can imagine that you feel (angry, sad, disappointed). Are those your feelings?”

After Mirroring and Validating each other, the final step in the IMAGO Dialogue is Empathy, conveying the message, I am with you. This is the deepest level of connection.

There is no need to be defended or ready for battle, no need to brace yourself for the onslaught or push harder to get your point across. You have been seen and heard. You now know that you are not alone.

That is the magic of the flow of the IMAGO Dialogue.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010 at 5:39 PM and is filed under IMAGO and Relationships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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