Empathy is defined as “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” Empathy results from understanding another deeply. When we look at the world from our partner’s point of view, we begin to bridge the gap of understanding between us. When we are emotionally activated by tension, fear, and anger, it is extremely difficult to empathize with and understand the other’s perspective at first. We are too wrapped up in our own sensations and thoughts to think clearly.
If we can take a little time to soothe ourselves, some room becomes available to see a different perspective, we begin to notice that we have something to do with the predicament that we find ourselves in. The very instant we see our part in the breakdown, we notice our lack of empathy and understanding, and our anger lessens. And when we are not so busy being rigidly right, making the other person so wholly wrong, there is a bit of room to see the issue from their point of view. Moving off of our “heels in cement” position, allows the other to become more flexible too. By taking responsibility for our part in the conflict, a dynamic is set up whereby our partner is more apt to take responsibility for their part.