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The Extrapolation Temptation June 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People, Writing & Writers.

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052Many people convince themselves that they are putting their time on the planet to good use by postulating that everyone should do as they do:

* People who read novels may feel that everyone should read novels.

* People who enjoy travel may claim that people who don’t travel are missing out on an essential element of life.

* People who have kids may feel that everyone should have kids.

* People who are married may be convinced that everyone should get married.  (Or, perhaps, that no one should.)

It’s understandable that people want to persuade themselves that they’ve made the “right” choices in life.

That’s to be expected.

But if we give in to the temptation of extrapolating from “right for us” to “right for everyone else,” we are apt to lose our footing.

Or cause others to lose theirs.

As a case in point, I don’t regret destroying dozens of journals and diaries I kept as a child, teen, and young adult.  I found the experience of shredding page after page of compulsive thinking liberating ~> letting go of the past to make room for the present.

In the almost 20 years since I relegated them to the recycling bin, I haven’t missed them once.

Shredding those pages was the right decision for me.

But I wouldn’t extrapolate from my experience to encourage others to do the same.  Because I have no idea what’s in their journals.

Maybe their journals include eloquent and elegant memories that are worth saving, whereas mine contained a litany of complaints written when I was unhappy with the state of my world.  I didn’t record wonderful moments filled with joy and delight, because I was too busy having fun at those times.

Mickey-OKOnce I realized that slogging through the pages of my past (as recorded in my now defunct journals) would be a dismal exercise in futility, removed from the uplifting journey that represents the totality of my life, I let them go and breathed a great sigh of relief!

Aah . . . that’s better!

When you know WHO you are, you know HOW to live.

Related posts:  Philip Hensher (Carol Balawyder) * I Destroyed My Best Friend (Life Penned) * 3 Things I Learned This Week * Room To Express Oneself (BB’s Blog) * Where The Flow Leads (SuziCate)


1. Jill Weatherholt - June 13, 2014

I couldn’t agree more, Nancy! I’ve been with my guy for over 17 years and during that time I’ve had many friends ask, “Why don’t you guys get married?” Of course, some of those friends are on their 3rd marriage. 🙂

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Haha! That’s a great example, Jill. You show ’em!

When people value something (marriage, kids, travel, bungee jumping), they often say things like, “everyone should do THIS.” Whenever I hear words like always, never, everyone, all, etc., my ears perk up.

There is little in the world that is absolute.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Another thought just popped into my head:

Lots of people have “get married” on their Life List. As if getting married was a destination rather than the continuation of the journey. They get married, cross it off their Life List, and move on to “have kids.”

But a marriage remains strong only if the partners view it as a continuing journey, full of twists and turns. If neglected, it grows dusty and loses its spark.

Hence, the high number of divorces among folks who crossed “get married” off their list without adding “stay married” to it.

Jill Weatherholt - June 13, 2014

Great point, Nancy!

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

I expect your relationship has “longevity” because you and your partner continue to value and care for it ~ allowing each other room to grow and change.

Jill Weatherholt - June 13, 2014

That’s so true, Nancy. We’ve both changed and grown over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is our appreciation for each other…we say “thank you” often. 🙂

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Same here. We celebrate our 30th Anniversary Monday ~ he’s still my BFF.

2. Silver in the Barn - June 13, 2014

Vive la difference, I say. Who am I to determine what’s best for you when I am in a constant state of flux with my own self?

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Plus if we are always looking around for someone to “enlighten,” we have less time to watch OUR PATH as it unfolds before us.

3. suzicate - June 13, 2014

To each his own, right? Only we know what our soul calls us to do!

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

We know we should allow ourselves and others the freedom to “follow their own road” (as you and DM did with your son) but it is SO TEMPTING to share our life lessons with others to help them avoid making a mistake.

But it might me that that “mistake” is the next lesson on their curricula.

4. Pix Under the Oaks - June 13, 2014

😀 CH’s Mom was just telling us on Wednesday what she thought we should do with ourselves about moving, Florida, going to St. Louis. It was well intentioned and we didn’t mind at all. In fact she put it in perspective.. for an afternoon 😀 Of course having someone pop up and tell you what to do with your life doesn’t always work! But in the end it is always my gut feeling that gets me where I am going.. 🙂

Pix Under the Oaks - June 13, 2014

Oh! I do have some journals I could shred!!!!!

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Talking things out with others often helps us gain perspective. I have received some GREAT advice in my life, but I have also been offered some truly wretched advice.

As you note, we need to run it through our own internal filters (our gut feelings) to see if its where we need to go.

5. Carol Balawyder - June 13, 2014

Thanks for relating back to my post, Nancy. 🙂

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

You’re welcome, Carol. Philip Hensler’s statement about people who don’t read novels got the wheels turning. 😎

6. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - June 13, 2014

LOVE IT!! I love the reminder that what is good for me isn’t always good for others – and that what is good for them isn’t always for me.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

When we deal with young children, guidance is necessary because they are not equipped to deal with the world on their own. Except for Pippi Longstocking. She did a great job of navigating the world with a horse on the porch and a monkey as a roommate.

But if we attempt to give unsolicited (albeit well-meaning) advice and counsel to adults who, from our perspective, are making a “mistake,” the mistake is usually our own.

Vive la difference!

7. ericjbaker - June 13, 2014

So right, Nancy. People will go as far to tell you how you should react and feel about things, as if you are disappointing them by not reacting the way they want you too.

Harkening back to what I said here yesterday, every person’s reality is unique. I have strong opinions about many issues and will gladly discuss and debate if people are interested in engaging me, but my views exist only in my reality, and I have no right to invade someone else’s. For example, as you are well aware, I do not practice a religion or believe in supernatural beings and can give a long list of well-articulated reasons why. I am confident I can counter any point given as well. However, that doesn’t mean I’m right and the other person is wrong or that my views are more valid. I’m simply describing my reality. We’d find a more peaceful coexistence by respecting that about each other.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Yes! I remember being told on more that one occasion, “You don’t mean that,” when (in fact) I did too mean it.

Here’s to peaceful coexistence with room for all realities and personalities at the table.

8. NancyTex - June 13, 2014

Well said, NH. What right for me may be toxic for someone else.

“When you know WHO you are, you know HOW to live.” – perfect.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Plus we probably make more headway on our own path when we’re not wasting time 2nd guessing decisions made by others.

NancyTex - June 13, 2014

But it’s so easy to sit back and second guess/judge. Working on doing a whole lot less of that.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

I am an EXCELLENT Monday Morning Quarterback too. 😎

9. Val Boyko - June 13, 2014

Love this one Nancy 🙂
When we know who we are, we know how to live … and be okay with ourselves.
The need to have others replicate our ways so we feel right or validated doesn’t even come into mind any more.
Just as the need to emulate also goes away.
Val x

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Yes! The better our life fits us, the less inclined we are to concern ourselves with things outside our control. We allow ourselves and others room to breathe.

10. Don - June 13, 2014

I couldn’t agree more, Nancy.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

We can still share what we’ve learned by tossing out ideas in a more general way, recognizing that life is not one-size-fits-all.

Thanks for some good questions yesterday, Don. I left a few links for you on the Ayn Rand post.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

I see you found them.

Don - June 14, 2014

I did 🙂

11. Eric Tonningsen - June 13, 2014

Woo hoo to WHO you are! And to not losing our own unique footing. With you completely on this, Nancy.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Here’s to maintaining our footing!

12. diannegray - June 13, 2014

Not being Christian and living on a farm surrounded by born-again Christians puts me slap bang in the middle of “what’s right for us is a must for everyone else,” country. (It’s interesting to say the least and the conversations make great fodder for novels) 😉

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Oh, yes! Fodder for novels . . . and blogs. I’m always amused when they want to tell me “the truth.” 😎

13. bluebee - June 13, 2014

“When you know WHO you are, you know HOW to live.” Well said. And viva la difference! And thanks for the ping 🙂

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Your photo tied in perfectly with the theme of this post.

14. jannatwrites - June 14, 2014

I just wasted an hour playing Random Mahjong on my phone while watching two episodes of Love It or List It instead of writing… I don’t recommend others follow that lead 🙂

I agree that what works for us doesn’t mean it works for others.

nrhatch - June 14, 2014

At times, wasted time is time well spent ~> it recharges our batteries when they are on “low” or “about to implode.”

15. Grannymar - June 14, 2014

In my neck of the woods, Saturdays should be called ‘Bornagainday! Yes. You can time your watch by it, A guy with a car sits in the middle of the square, opens the boot/trunk and switches on his sound system to full blast, then in the dreariest voice attempts to save all our souls. I live over a mile away and if the wind is in my direction, his voice comes down the chimney.

nrhatch - June 14, 2014

Imagine if you didn’t know about the car in the square issuing words of salvation BEFORE you heard the dreary voice echoing through the chimney’s chambers?

“God? Is that you God? My what a dreary voice you have.”

Grannymar - June 14, 2014

Thank you, Nancy! I have just wet my pants from laughing.

nrhatch - June 14, 2014

Sorry about the wee accident. Glad you had a good laugh.

16. elizabeth2560 - June 14, 2014

I too have noted that I tend to journal more when I have an issue to think through than when I am having a great time. When I am having a great time, I am too busy to write. The converse is true about photos. They only capture the happy times.

nrhatch - June 14, 2014

That is such an excellent point, Elizabeth. My photos capture the happy times much better than the writing I did in my younger years. Now that I’m blogging, my writing has a better balance.

elizabeth2560 - June 14, 2014

Yes, me too; although I have noticed that when I write about down days or negative feelings I get a huge response; and when I write about something positive, much less response.
People like doom and gloom, it seems.

nrhatch - June 15, 2014

I’ve noticed a similar trend. People are ever ready to commiserate with us about our challenges but less ready to celebrate our successes.

Maybe sharing the negative with others makes them feel better about their lot in life? Or maybe they want to do their “good deed for the day” by tossing out a bone?

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

17. livelytwist - June 15, 2014

It is so tempting to do this, but I’m learning that what’s good for the goose isn’t always good or better for the next goose or gander. I’m good when I follow my rule: don’t give unsolicited advice. 🙂

nrhatch - June 15, 2014

It’s funny how often I find myself stepping into the role of unsolicited solicitor. I’m learning to take two GIANT steps back.

18. Three Well Beings - June 17, 2014

I am really sensitive (I think!) to not extrapolating to others what is best based upon my personal preferences. The reason I’m sensitive about it is because I get very irritable when others do it to me! I haven’t traveled very much, and I have those in my life who spare no effort in telling me how I SHOULD travel more. That I’m happy as I am seems irrelevant to them. LOL! As for journals, I destroyed all of mine when I began to think that they might be a burden to my children. There were bits of nonsense in each one that I wasn’t comfortable with anyone else reading. I guess I destroyed them about the same time I began to think that possibly I wouldn’t be around to protect my stash forever! 🙂

nrhatch - June 17, 2014

You come at both these issues the way I do, Debra ~ I try not to say “you’ll love this movie” or “you have to eat at this restaurant” because it sounds like a fiat instead of a suggestion.

I began the shredding process around the time I was scheduled for surgery to remove a tumor that could not be biopsied ~ benign or malignant? No one knew. I would have been OK with someone starting at page one and reading straight through (because I often put things into perspective a few pages later) but skimming around was apt to create impressions that didn’t mesh well with who I really am. So safer to shred. It allowed me to breathe lighter. 😎

And I’m with you on travel too . . . I’m happy where I am (for now) so why should I expend effort in going to see places that don’t call out to me.

19. The Blind Leading The Blind | Spirit Lights The Way - September 17, 2014

[…] Related Post:  The Extrapolation Temptation […]

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