To associate with something means essentially to connect with it. By connecting to your feelings and experiences, you are implicitly accepting them and your self for having them. You are not denying or resisting, which is an extremely powerful way to say Yes to your self. Saying Yes and connecting to your self creates flow.
The Ocean refuses no river ~ Sheila Chandra
Connecting to a feeling or experience does not have to mean identifying with that experience or feeling. In actuality, the connection offers you an opportunity to discover what beliefs you are holding, about your self, others and life as a result of certain experiences, which is priceless. Connecting to your truth as it stands right now in this moment, not as how you want it to be in the future and not as how you wanted it to be in the past, is the ultimate act of acceptance and an acknowledgement of your humanity. It is this act of self acceptance which allows you to change.
What you don't deny, hide or disown, in other words, what you can fully associate with, won't be projected onto others or yourself, so your relationships will be more harmonious, particularly the relationship you have with your self.