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Empathy, Understanding, and Compassion

When working with clients who are in conflict with another, either a parent, spouse, sibling, or child, similar themes evolve which contribute to the relationship distress. Often, there is a sense of betrayal that has led to my client expressing resentment, bitterness, and a desire for retribution.

Often disconnect occurs when there is a perceived hurt and reconciliation appears impossible.

When reconciliation is unattainable, isolation and separation can occur. The injured party may avoid conflict through avoidance, but this does nothing to ease the pain of the original betrayal. Often, there is a feeling of abandonment, even though the injured party was the one who left. I see this in cases of child abuse and domestic violence that leads to divorce.

When I look at this famous painting by Michelangelo, I see Adam removed from the masses and God, but where he still can be touched by God. Doesn't Adam seem like he's making God work harder than he is to touch (connect)? Sometimes, our arrogance can be off-putting when someone is trying to make a connection. I see and hear this in sessions where one spouse, parent, or child (Adam) is manipulating the other (God) to work harder and prove their love, commitment, or desire for the first.

Recently, I learned that the space where God and the others are encapsulated is a replica of the shape of the brain. Michelangelo was known for conducting research on the brains of corpses he dug up in secrecy. I wonder if his concept for this painting was to place God in one's consciousness? If this is true, then it would make sense that Adam, who obviously is only a little interested in connecting with God, would recline back and wait for God to touch him. Isn't this how most people experience faith? They are waiting for God to reveal himself to them and are not making much effort to connect with God.

When we take Adam's posture with our family, friends, or partner, how long does it take for them to give up trying to connect? If you are making it difficult, or it appears that you have no interest in connecting, people may get tired of reaching out because it feels like their efforts are unappreciated. It doesn't matter how much empathy, understanding, or compassion is expressed by the giver if the recipient does not accept it.

If you'd like to learn more about ways to improve your relationships, read my book, LIVE INTENTIONAL, which you can find online at Amazon or Barns and Nobel.


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