The incredibly astute comedian, George Carlin said:
Archive for the ‘Self-help’ Category
Empathy is the glue that bonds people in an intimate relationship. When there is an empathic connection, people feel understood, they feel seen. Empathy is not the only way for people to bond, but it is necessary for an intimate connection. Bonding over a common activity or common experience may foster a connection just as doing something for someone else might engender gratitude or appreciation. But in order for there to be intimacy, empathy is required.
Human beings are an odd lot. We are easily embarrassed, we are seldom content, we always want more of something, we often feel that someone else is better than ourselves, and we often wish we were someone else. I doubt that a cow ever wished it were a giraffe. I cannot imagine an elephant wishing it were a tiger. Animals seems to be content with who they are. They simply strive to be the best that they can be. Human beings, however, often wish they were someone else. They wish they were prettier, taller, shorter, younger, older, richer, smarter, faster; they seem constantly comparing themselves with someone else and come up short.
I remember reading the classic work of Victor Frankl, MD, the psychiatrist who, after spending six years as a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps, wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. In it, Dr. Frankl comments that many of the prisoners fell into a state of despair upon realizing that may never be free again. Their sense of helplessness and hopelessness was so overwhelming that they began smoking the cigarettes that were used as a medium of exchange to obtain small amounts of additional rations from their captives. They had simply given up. Others, like Frankl, maintained their sense of identity, their sense of hope and possibility, and were able to find meaning for themselves even under horrendous circumstances.
Panic attacks take anxiety to an extreme often resembling a heart attack: tightening in the chest, shallow breathing, sweats, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat. They come on suddenly, usually dissipating within 10-20 minutes. But during that period the individual feels as if he or she were going to die. Once they occur, the individual begins to anticipate the next occurrence. This anticipatory anxiety may trigger a full-blown panic attack. As a consequence of an attack, individuals may begin to restrict their behavior to activities that are familiar. They may avoid public places for fear of having an attack, e.g., they may stop going to restaurants, being with friends, driving, and any other place from which escape might be difficult.
In a previous post, Is Chemistry Necessary, I pointed out that chemistry in a relationship, similar to other drugs, offers a quick high followed by a let down as the chemistry dissipates. I concluded that while chemistry may be an important ingredient, it is not sufficient for a lasting, intimate relationship. In this post I will suggest that chemistry, when combined with mutual compatibility can lead to the passion that continues to burn in a long-term relationship.