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The Nature of Relationships March 24, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Poetry.

Tiggers-R-UsRelationships are governed by societal and religious expectations and conditioning. As a result, human relationships vary from culture to culture.

Despite the global nature of the internet, we are not having a universal experience.

The norm in one corner of the globe does not translate across all borders and boundaries.

Tigger-PogoFor that reason, I don’t really care what people in general think.  I care about what the people I care about think.

It’s less confusing.

Instead of expending untold energy trying to figure out how to get inside someone else’s head, perhaps we should get to know who we are.

Look deep . . . the answers lie within.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Great minds may not think alike . . . but most great minds like a think.

Related posts:  What Makes You, You? * Torn AsunderThink Like A Man, End Up Without One (1) (Lively Twist)


1. Hariod Brawn - March 24, 2015

There are ‘answers’ within, as long as we know what questions we are to pose, and equally there are answers in relationships too, as Martin Buber declared so eloquently.

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Of course. We learn about ourselves through personal experience, including our relationships.

But trying to fully understand how those on the other side of the planet see life (through the lens of their personal experiences) may not be the best use of time ~ it’s a big forest.

Buber rejected the label of “philosopher” or “theologian” claiming he was not interested in ideas, only personal experience, and could not discuss God but only relationships to God.

Perhaps he used his perception of God as a mirror to see himself?

2. Jill Weatherholt - March 24, 2015

I gave up trying to get inside other people’s heads along time ago. Who’s got the time? I only need to keep track of the goings on in my head, and that’s a full-time job. 🙂

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Haha! I agree, Jill.

Customs vary across cultures, countries, and continents ~ we could spend our entire life trying to figure out what makes “everyone” tick without making much progress. Or we can use the relationships around us to better understand who we are.

anotherday2paradise - March 24, 2015

What a great comment, Jill! 😍

3. Kate Crimmins - March 24, 2015

I have enough trouble trying to figure out what’s in my head.

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Once I accepted I would never fully understand why others do the things they do, it freed up LOTS of time. 😛

4. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - March 24, 2015

Love it! I always have so much fun finding out about different cultures because of how differently we all think, but I never brought the lesson home like this post does! Something for me to think on (which shows apparently I have a great mind!) 🙂

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Same here, Kate. It’s fascinating to see the differences around the globe and we do get a glimpse of what motivates mankind (in general). The danger lies in extrapolating from “in general” to specific individuals.

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

And keep thinking! A great mind is a terrible thing to lose.

5. Pix Under the Oaks - March 24, 2015

“For that reason, I don’t really care what people in general think. I care about what the people I care about think.” Yes!

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

That may be why I enjoy our chats so much, Pix!

Pix Under the Oaks - March 24, 2015


nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Here’s to “one-on-one” conversations!

6. Grannymar - March 24, 2015

I’m looking deep. All I can find so far are cobwebs! 😉

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

I guess the corners of our minds are no different than the corners of our living rooms. 😎

Grannymar - March 24, 2015

My dust and I are great friends!

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Haha! A comfortable familiarity.

7. anotherday2paradise - March 24, 2015

Loved this post, Nancy! 👍

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Thanks, Sylvia. Timi’s post on Lively Twist got me thinking along these lines.

When we only had to “decipher” people we met in real time, we navigated relationships with greater ease. Once our world view shifted to encompass people via TV, Movies, Newspapers, and the World Wide Web, the people we encountered grew exponentially ~> cyber confusion.

Telescoping back in helped me realize where to focus my time and attention. As Thoreau counseled, Simplify!

anotherday2paradise - March 24, 2015

Great idea, Nancy. 🙂

anotherday2paradise - March 24, 2015

A quote came to mind just now, as I was pondering your post. “Those who mind, don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.” Not sure of the origin. 🙂

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Perfect, Sylvia. That has long been one of my favorite quotes:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

8. NancyTex - March 24, 2015

I wish my younger self knew two things;
1. I can’t control others (or even get inside their heads); and
2. What they think of me doesn’t matter.

Lots of lots energy on those two things until I realized how valuable my time is, and that there are way better ways to spend it!

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Yes! I grasped the concept when I realized that we have as many reputations as acquaintances and NONE is accurate. No one knows exactly who we are because they are looking at us through the lens of their own experience.

Very liberating because if no one understands us, how could we ever hope to understand all of them.

BTW: Your #2 is my #2 (word for word). My #1 ~ “don’t buy so much stuff.”

NancyTex - March 24, 2015

Haha! I could adopt some of your #1!!

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

It would have made all of our moves (eleven!) so much easier if we had had less STUFF. Even after years of decluttering, we still have Too Much Stuff.

We made two trips to Goodwill to drop off STUFF this week ~ with a 3rd in the offing. We’ll keep chipping away at it!

9. suzicate - March 24, 2015

Knowing ourselves is the key to everything else.

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Yes! Perhaps one reason we want to figure out what makes “them” tick is that we hope to find clues about our hidden motivations.

When we stop looking “out there,” the answers arise in due course . . . even when we don’t know which questions to ask.

And once we know WHO we are . . . we know HOW to live.

10. Don - March 24, 2015

Good post Nancy. I live in a country where we are so obsessed with not offending one another that we don’t even know who the hell we are any more.

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

It’s suffocating when we have to wander around in masks for fear of causing unintentional offense for speaking our mind.

11. brickhousechick - March 24, 2015

So true, Nancy. Many spend a heck of a lot of energy trying to change others and trying to prove that their way is right. Unless you are an attorney or a debater, let others be. Best to focus on what we can do to help others rather than hurt them. ps. I’m not going to think about what my neighbors are up to anymore! LOL.

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Bwahaha! Trying to figure out what your neighbors are up to might lead to a real can of worms, especially with that suspicious guy!

12. Val Boyko - March 24, 2015

Knowing ourselves allows us to let others be themselves. 🙂

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

I agree, Val. When we stop using “them” as an external yardstick, we no longer have to figure out what makes them tick.

13. L. Marie - March 24, 2015

Looking inside also helps us to avoid the quicksand of judging other people. 🙂 I’ve fallen into that trap way too often.

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

It’s easy to slide down that slippery slope unless we are mindfully deciding “our next best step.”

14. Barb - March 24, 2015

It’s hard enough keeping up with my own thoughts, never mind trying to get into someone else’s head, Nancy – getting to know ourselves is a full time job!

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

Yes! That might be our life-long purpose . . . to glean our essence.

15. reocochran - March 24, 2015

It is hard to know how to make things better, seems like our blogging community is globally aware and kind to one another. I feel sad when I think about problems which are prevalent everywhere, but I address them (on my posts from time to time) hoping to ‘solve’ them or make others aware.

nrhatch - March 24, 2015

I’m having a hard time connecting the dots between this post and your comment, Robin. What am I missing?

16. Tiny - March 24, 2015

These are excellent insights. Unfortunately I too wasted lots of energy and time before this wisdom was properly internalized.

nrhatch - March 25, 2015

Same here, Tiny. Each time we moved, we encountered different people and life perspectives. Trying to understand each of those varied and various vantage points in order to understand myself would have left me no time to breathe.

Once I stopped using them as a yardstick, my true self began to surface.

Tiny - March 25, 2015

Wonderfully put, Nancy!

nrhatch - March 25, 2015


17. beeblu - March 25, 2015

Yes, it’s confusing and exhausting. Even trying to get inside my own head 🙂

nrhatch - March 25, 2015

A still pond provides a more accurate reflection. Clarity surfaces after we stop churning the waters. _/!\_

18. livelytwist - March 25, 2015

“Despite the global nature of the internet, we are not having a universal experience.”

Great insight Nancy. I was reminded of this recently when I had to relate with a Japanese lady online.

As a storyteller, I do care about what others think. I am fascinated by other cultures, views, etc. I have found that when you strip everything to the core, the things that affect us- love, pain, angst, joy, etc, as well as the remedy(ies), and our motivations are essentially the same.

Maria Popova says that a great story invites an expansion of understanding, a self-transcendence. More than that, the story plants the seed and makes it impossible to do anything but grow a new understanding—of the world, of our place in it, of ourselves, of some subtle or monumental aspect of existence.

In a way, another person’s story (what they think), helps me understand who I am and who I’m not and who I’d like to be.

Thanks for the link up 🙂

nrhatch - March 25, 2015

When I’m immersed in a story, I “care” about what happens to the characters as I observe what they do, say and think. But once I close the book, I leave them behind. I move on to a new cast of characters in a different setting.

Trying to carry them all with me on my journey would weigh me down and stop me dead in my tracks.

“How refreshing the whinny of the pack horse fully unloaded.”

Likewise, so many people cross my cyber threshold in a given week that I would have no time to live life if I had to understand who they are in order to understand who I am. I may pick up a stray breadcrumb here and there with a clue on how I wish to live, but their choices cannot fully illuminate my path from halfway around the world.

And for every story we glean, there are billions of other stories out there . . . what if we miss the one we most need to hear because we are too focused on “caring” for stray orphans?

livelytwist - March 26, 2015

Hi Nancy, since you put the words care and caring in quotation marks, I wondered . . .

To my mind, “care,” used as a verb in my comment, means to be interested in; it does not mean agreement. I’ve had a different experience caring about what others think. It hasn’t weighed me down but expanded my understanding of the world; something I am keen to do. It is why I read beyond my preferred sphere of interest.

It’s interesting that my post, which you link to, partly inspired Eric Baker to write a blog post about dating/writing advice. It was a comment thread (where a number of us participated in, you included), on that post that ignited his flame. The opening statement of this post is similar to the comment you left on that thread.

Said all that to say:

“Caring” about what others think, invites an expansion of understanding . . . the story plants the seed and makes it impossible to do anything but grow a new understanding—of the world, of our place in it, of ourselves, of some subtle or monumental aspect of existence. In my opinion.

So, a viewpoint from another part of the globe that doesn’t resonate leads to a comment thread, which gets your mental wheels rolling . . . which led to a new or enhanced understanding of some subtle(?) aspect of existence. Thus:

“Relationships are governed by societal and religious expectations . . . For that reason, I don’t really care what people . . . ”

This is the longest comment I’ve left on your blog. I’m not sorry to have done so 🙂 I only hope it’s useful. If not, then I’m very sorry to have wasted you and your readers time.

nrhatch - March 26, 2015

Thanks for the clarification, Timi.

I put care in quotes because I suspected that we might be using the term in different ways. In my pocket dictionary, it has a number of nuances:

1. to feel anxiety
2. to feel interest
3. to give care
4. to have a liking, fondness, taste or inclination
5. to be concerned about

I find different perspectives “interesting.” On that we agree.

When I said that I didn’t “really care” what people in general think, I meant that finding that someone halfway around the world views the world in a different way than me doesn’t cause me to “feel anxiety” or “be concerned about” my place in the world. I don’t need to understand their view of the world to live my life.

Hope that helps.

nrhatch - March 26, 2015

This post may clarify what I meant still further:


What it boils down to for me is “observing others with interest” without getting caught up in the need to analyze, decipher, judge, or interpret each of their actions.

nrhatch - March 25, 2015

Thanks for such a thought-provoking comment, Timi. I’m still thinking about it.

For example, you note:

I have found that when you strip everything to the core, the things that affect us- love, pain, angst, joy, etc, as well as the remedy(ies), and our motivations are essentially the same.

If this is true, then once we understand ourselves (and those closest to us), we will understand everyone . . . without the necessity of dissecting the totality of daily choices made in far flung corners of the globe.

Cutting out those far afield simplifies the process, no?

19. Three Well Beings - April 1, 2015

I think one reason I have a lot of friends is that I really enjoy them as they are! I spend little time fixing them, changing them or trying to figure out their situations. I do encourage them to know and accept themselves, however. Great post, Nancy!

nrhatch - April 1, 2015

Given your cyber presence, that doesn’t surprise me a bit ~> you strike me as someone who sees and accepts others as they are without getting caught up in the need to analyze, decipher, judge, or interpret each of their actions.

Who wouldn’t want a friend like that? :mrgreen:

20. jannatwrites - April 3, 2015

Well if you want to know what I think…
You don’t?
These days I’m lucky to even generate a thought or two, never mind trying to get inside someone else’s head 🙂

nrhatch - April 3, 2015

I do care what my cyber friends think . . . at least some of them, some of the time ~> it gives me a chance to get out of my head. :mrgreen:

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