We exist and we perceive our identity not in a vacuum but rather in relation to others. Life is relational. Whether we like it or not, we are wax upon which others leave their mark. When someone sees us as a thing to use or abuse, that becomes part of who we are in our own eyes as well (self-esteem not withstanding). When we are on the receiving end of an act of kindness, we feel validated. We translate that act into a very simple, very powerful unspoken message to ourselves. I am not alone, I have value and my life has meaning.
from Choosing Civility
by P.M. Forni