This doesn’t sound like holiday cheer: The Extraordinary Human Ability to Personalize Everything
Just a(n) (un)timely observation. People are here for a sort of pre-Christmas and there’s been much talk of shared personal histories. I’m amazed at how much we all seem to personalize everything. It’s an extraordinary human thought defect. We seem to think our experiences exist as exclusively our own. Private and unique. We rationalize and explain happenings in the vacuum of our individuality, placing undue importance on the minutiae of otherwise insignificant events. I used to do this very often when I was younger. The more I’ve seen and learnt of the world, the more I’ve been able to identify the patterns that bind us all. Relationships between boys and mothers, girls and fathers, siblings, new arrivals to established family or social groups, mothers in law and their daughters in law etc… We start out believing that our dispute with X, Y or Z is because of that time when they said ____- or that our affinity with A, B or C is because of that time when we____- and we sometimes continue to believe that forever; In some cases never realizing the mechanics of it all. If we change the names and scenery, our experience overlaps those of so many others. Much like transparencies on a projector (am I showing my age with that reference?). Even more frighteningly our experiences perfectly overlap many of those in the lives of pack animals. That is what makes mass entertainment viable. Look around at a movie theatre and watch people’s faces. Listen to their reactions. They’ll smile, laugh, fidget, feel anxiety and be scared- at nearly the same time. There’s incredible universality to behaviour. You think you have a problem with your step mother/father because of that incident at Thanksgiving five years ago… sorry, it’s not really that at all, at least not entirely. The real issue underlies the incident in question. Why do you think Cinderella was/is a huge success? The wicked stepmother is a new arrival, an outsider that’s going to consume resources in an already established eco-system. Amongst those resources are attention, love and money. If she’s got children the fears are amplified- perhaps even justified. So why am I babbling on and on and on? Because if we personalize every issue we will invariably fail to see the greater (and more real) picture. I know it may take away some of the romance of life, but it also removes the sting. Now digest that and get back to celebrating the holidays!