Experiencing our feelings, in the midst of relating with another person we like or love, or need to like or love, or want to be liked or loved by, is of commanding importance if we 1) take our desires seriously, and 2) wish to sustain and improve the relationship.
Yet, experiencing our real feelings – our emotions in truth – acknowledging what is going on in the moment, for us and for them – is primary, and it doesn’t take place without intention and effort and training, or the character of giving for that matter.
Another important consideration is the nuance of the present moment which we inherently miss. There is the ‘there and then’ of things, and there is the ‘here and now’ of things. One hinders the encounter; the other helps.
Contrasting the ‘There and Then’ with the ‘Here and Now’
The ‘there and then’ of things is the aspect of being present, but not really yet encountering a situation as really being in it. But the ‘here and now’ of things we are more fully sown in. Time goes by and we hardly factor it in. We lose track of everything apart from being truly free to be ourselves, to listen intently, even as if there were no effort expended, and to respond via an inalienable truth. This is when we encounter each other and have true intimacy. It seems a gift, just the same as it seems quite surreal that there was no guard or façade put up. We have exposed ourselves and become quite vulnerable because the simple fact is they, also, were exposed and vulnerable.
In the ‘there and then’ space we found ourselves within the conversation, but not so much in it. There was the exchange of information, but not so much the truer feelings that could only be exposed as we went deeper into our own desire to connect because we sensed it was their desire to connect. We returned serve because they returned serve. But, whatever the case, we were prepared to initiate because we had faith that they would respond.
‘There and then’ is useful at times when we only need information. But it is useless in the therapeutic relationship, unless it’s used in the initial getting-to-know-you process, or in the genuine familial relationship for that matter.
‘Here and now’ is achieved when we truly enter ourselves into this other person, almost as if praying for them in the moment by asking, “Lord, let me know this person, and let me be as them for this time.”
The process of encountering another person is a gift for both them and us. As we encounter them, they encounter us, and a mutuality of intimate and trusting exchange occurs. When we listen and prove our unconditional concern, we invite their trust, especially as we meet such vulnerable sharing with empathy, which creates the encounter where true feelings are unearthed and explored freely.
Encountering each other, being completely present, is for both a divine encounter.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.