Better Together: Part 3, “Tell Me Why”

Tell me why is it hard to make arrangements with yourself?”

-Neil Young

If you’ve hung with me to this point in the series, you know that I believe the most significant problem America faces is our growing separation from one another. 

It’s a problem because “separation” is wired into our consciousness. Each individual experiences the world in the context of their unique experiences and pre-dispositions, which differ. 

Homo Sapiens have existed for roughly 300 hundred thousand years. Still, given the historical lifespan of a species, 99% of humanity’s lives are yet to be lived. Thought of in this manner, our responsibility to the future becomes clear. 

I believe our best chance to make a positive contribution to that future lies in shifting our perspective from “Me” to “We,” which involves learning to “see” through the eyes of unity rather than self-interest. 

We’ve covered a lot of ground in the first three installments, yet I’ve left out the most crucial subject.

What’s in it for me?

From a broad perspective, the pandemic offered a unique learning laboratory. Even though we view ourselves as separate from others, we are clearly a social species. The forced separation imposed by the pandemic resulted in dramatic increases in emotional and social dis-ease. Violent crime, suicides, auto accidents, and depression/anxiety disorders rose by double-digit percentages.

Herein lies the paradox of our human condition. Though “Me” may feel like a separate entity on the inside, we cannot thrive in the absence of “We!” 

The quick answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”  is the benefit for our own emotional well-being. Every negative emotion I experience, when traced back to the root cause, arises from viewing myself as separate from the world and then not liking what the world serves up!

We are temporary constellations of energy spun off an eternal beam of life. We are in this together. Yet, too often, we behave like an ant floating down a river on a log, thinking it’s driving. We’d be better off if we simply joined hands and relaxed into the flow.

People upset us. That includes friends and family. When we stand back from any situation and ask why we are upset, the answer always points back to something “Self” finds disagreeable.

Do we really expect everyone, including those closest to us, to behave as we want them to all the time?

Admittedly, I came by this knowledge through personal failure rather than intellectual insight. I was experiencing great difficulty with the behavior of a person close to me. In fact, I was at my wit’s end and finally decided to reach out to a wise friend for help.

Over breakfast, I explained my situation, including the rationale for my righteous indignation. My friend listened patiently until I was done. I will never forget what she said when I finally asked for advice. 

“Your problem, Tim, is obvious!” That sounded hopeful until she continued, “And the problem is you!”

That really upset me. Any rational person would agree I had every right to be mad. Nevertheless, I held my tongue out of respect, and my friend continued. 

“The problem is you’ve only examined the situation from your perspective. You’ve ignored how the other person feels! Things aren’t going to improve until you can get beyond yourself.”

That conversation happened years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it. I put the unwanted advice to the test, which wasn’t easy. Over time, an amazing thing happened. Things got better. I’m not saying the issues resolved, but I found I was no longer as upset.

The more I practice letting go of “Self” as a core perspective, the more I am able to accept outcomes I can’t control. That’s clearly worth the price of admission!

Despite a lot of practice, I’m still in the “kindergarten phase” of letting go of “Self.” That’s why practice is so important. Continued improvement in this area requires life-long effort. 

My blue-collar high-school buddy claims, “Action talks and BS walks.” 

Seeing from unity rather than separation requires action, or it is BS! 

I find it’s worth the effort!

And that’s what’s in it for me! 


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Previous posts may be found here and here.

2 Replies to “Better Together: Part 3, “Tell Me Why””

  1. I really like your thoughts today on this subject____ I agree with you totally—– What is in t for US is so much more important than what is in it for ME. It reminds me of the times you and I had together in the early 70’s trying to convince people that TOTAL QUALITY was so much more important and stronger than just getting a few things right…. I think WE did a great job and OUR organization flourished under that banner You were and are a great leader !!!

    A big thanks—-


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