We have all been told from the very beginning that understanding is the pillar of every relationship, the strong hold of every marriage and the foundation of every happy and lasting friendship.
Err-rm well….I plead to disagree with this long lasting fact!
There’s a wise saying that goes thus: Familiarity breeds contempt, which virtually means that extensive knowledge of or close association with someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them or it.
Well if my reasoning is right, this alternatively means that more knowledge causes more problems (loss of respect).
If the understanding (knowledge) is truly the root of a successful relationship, why are most relationships failing?…….. Have you ever wondered why?
We all know that understanding is important to be able to make meaning of various issues and people in life and over the years, we have been exposed to so much knowledge (understanding) thanks to new technologies, books, social media etc; but where has this taken us?
This century has more access to information (knowledge and understanding) on different topics including all types of relationships than those preceding us. However, we can all agree that this century has recorded one of the highest number of divorces and other failed relationships (be it parental, social or intimate) than expected, based on our understanding=good relationships principle.
With all this information available at our disposal better our relationships ; do we truly still believe that all we need now is more “understanding”?…. well I don’t thinks so!
Have you ever wondered why even the most adept of people find it hard to keep close relationships?
Humans are not curved to be solely logical beings, we are both logical and emotional beings; both attributes are momentous for proper conflict resolution and long-term relationships.
We have almost all the information, knowledge and understanding we can possibly want, yet, our relationships keep failing!
What we need is not more understanding, rather, we have to cultivate an attitude of empathy towards others.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Empathy is a combination of understanding and emotional connection (sharing other’s feelings). Some people may understand a situation perfectly well but feel nothing emotionally that may push them to change their attitudes or help someone out of a predicament.
On the other hand, those who empathize don’t only comprehend the person’s grievances, but they place themselves in their place and feel the pinch, thus leading to a deeper levels of discernment and less faulty judgement based on plane logic.
Simply Put; understanding deals with facts while Empathy deals with facts and emotional connection.
Empathy takes you to a level of vulnerability which you normally won’t have, understanding makes you accept issues mostly based on facts, without proper immersion into the person’s situation (emotions).
Most relationships fail not because of lack of understanding (as most psychologists make us believe), rather it is due to the deficiency of adequate empathy (emotional connection) between partners, colleagues, parents, siblings and all other relationships we can think of.
Don’t get me wrong, understanding is necessary for two people to meet and be together, but empathy is necessary for them to love and stay together for a long-term without wearing each other out.
You may understand that your partner felt bad when you cheated (that’s no news, everyone feels bad when cheated on!), however, you need to empathize with them and truly feel their pain in order to make a conscious effort to stop cheating and be a better spouse.
Your dad may not get you that beautiful dress for Christmas (I know that’s so unforgivable ^_^) and all you say is “ fine I understand he didn’t have the money” if he did he would have gotten me a better gift. You are so lovely to understand that fact, but have you tried putting yourself in dad’s shoes? He works all day to pay your fees, the house, the car, take care of your siblings you name it!
Just in case you took time to imagine how exhausted and stressed out dad may be doing all these things, you won’t even have to worry about a dress, rather you will be grateful for all he’s efforts so far (and trust me you will love him even more after this).
Maybe you have been ignoring your health (I know your thinking, it’s my body and it’s no one’s business how I treat it), but, just think for a minute the financial, physical and mental stress you will vest on those who care about you in case you get a terminal disease or worst off lose your life. Their pain should at-least give you a reason to treat yourself better.
Empathy lets you analyze in a more detailed and comprehensive manner little emotional particles which most people ignore during logical thinking.
We need to develop not more of love for one another, neither do we need to comprehend to the maximum the actions of our partners; rather what we need for more relationships to succeed is emotional and logical comprehension (empathy) in all our relationships.
Imagine before pulling a trigger at someone, you thought for a minute how hurt their family will be; there is a ninety percent chance you may not pull that trigger.
Many people understand the consequences of lying, yet they still tell lies like it’s no man’s business, they understand the effects of ungratefulness, still few children appreciate their parents efforts. They know that hitting their spouse is hazardous both emotionally and physically, but domestic violence increases by the day…….and so on.
This and a billion other things are understood by men but they still tend to act contrary despite the known repercussions.
What we need at this point is not mere understanding to fix the broken relationships and mend those falling apart. Everyone has to learn how to be empathetic towards people, starting with the most common of men and making in less than no time our problems will be resolved.
“Empathy” and not just “Understanding” is what WE need to cultivate in order to ameliorate the loop holes of OUR relationships!