John Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher and physician who influenced the thinking of American revolutionaries and whose theories are reflected in the US Declaration of Independence, made this statement in one of his writings: “Can another man perceive that I am conscious of anything when I perceive it not myself? No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”1
How true that is, especially of those things yet to come. Locke is making the point that we can never really know what might happen in future circumstance unless we’ve been through it before. Not only that, but each person who goes through the same thing will have their own unique thoughts and feelings.
That’s why it is so amazing when you hear others talk about how people should think or feel when they face certain conditions. One thing I tried never to do when counseling young couples who were about to get married, was to tell them what I felt right before and after I got married. To do so would have been to give them certain expectations that might prove entirely different what really happens.
So the next time someone comes to you and tells you what they are facing, be careful in speculating on what thoughts or feelings they should expect to encounter. It might be best to defer from offering any opinion since you will not be in their shoes. But if you have gone through something similar, when you tell them what you thought or felt, it’s only you. As Locke said, we are all limited what we felt and thought at the time. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 The Philosophical Works of John Locke, Vol. I, George Bell and Sons, London, 1908, Of Ideas in General, and Their Original, Bk. 2, Ch. 1, Sec 19, p. 220