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The way to be

Human psychology is so incredibly fascinating: all the little ways every one of us is different as life, relationships, culture, society, opportunities, and that base note of our fundamental character, interests and outlook blend together into these undeniably unique individuals. Ways we – as people – meet with reality, respond to it, form our ideas around life, then act out of that understanding to continue reshaping our world.

It astounds me at times how all those complex and interwoven processes get reduced to relatively simple models, theories and opinions about what drives people and what it is we’re doing here. There’s such beauty and deep truth in all those aspects of being human. But then, of course, there are the practicalities of life; and maybe models and theories help us gain a foothold in navigating that.

Finding the right balance between respecting individual paths in life and pressing forward collectively is the kind of problem that could stop you in your tracks completely. If we wish to take our own existence as being deeply significant and worthy of respect, then logically we should apply the same courtesy to all others. But how could that work out, practically? That may not be a question we can answer.

But, on a smaller scale, it often seems we take our own way of being and see it as more or less the right way to be. We’ve lived a little, decided who we are, made the most of our choices, formed opinions and beliefs, then we seem to stand by that, defend it and hold others up against our own standards and experiences.

Which takes us back to the realm of psychology: how we form a self, relate ourselves to society, and then use that ‘security’ to make our way in life. Of course, we arguably need to limit our options, close some doors, define ourselves in order to have this firmer sense of identity from which to act – so others can know who we are and paths become clearer.

It just interests me, because by doing all this we’re effectively making our selves the standard by which we judge things. It seems a process that creates conflict, as we’re drawn to those who share our views and struggle to understand those who don’t. In all the richness and diversity of life (see Notes One), all these battle lines are being drawn between us.

Just because something is ours, we like it and there’s a history behind it, does that make it right or true? How much of our personal identity is firmly tied up with the paths we’ve walked, choices we’ve made, and needing to feel secure about it all?

Stopping short of becoming too philosophical, it’s surely all a little strange. If we were truly secure within ourselves – knowing our experiences and choices to be personal, fleeting and limited – could we not instead be more curious about the many ways we are different, and all that that could bring to our lives together?

Notes and References:

Note 1: “Women who run with the wolves”
Note 1: What are we thinking?
Note 1: How it feels to be alive
Note 1: Is anything obvious to someone who doesn’t know?
Note 1: Communicating divergent experiences

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