Us. Like, you, me … and between us we have this third entity I’ve just simply named “Us.” I came up with this theory some years ago; the above picture shows an overlap of “You” and “Me,” with that overlap being where “Us” resides.
I think that picture’s on the right track, but it’s a little bit … off. How do I mean? I think a better picture would show a bubble of “You,” and a bubble of “Me,” and between those two, a separate, individual bubble that’s “Us.” So what’s the difference? The difference, in my little pea-brain, is simple: Overlap implies a loss of one or both of the individuals. My way has a little bit of a different application.
Ok, now that I’ve got that first part out of the way, I’m sure you’re scratching your head, asking yourself “Ok, sure, but what’s that got to do with SJW and all that rot?” Good question, glad you asked! I suppose I could respond that without understanding how my little pea-brain views the world, you can’t understand why I believe that a cogent description of “Us” is the beginning of putting things on their correct footing.
So, let’s imagine a scenario. There’s me. Bouncing along in my happy little hippie Isende-world, dreaming dreams of bringing peace, love, and happiness to the world one person at a time. Then, say, there’s my DH, bouncing along in his happy little music-filled DH world, focused on his dreams of bringing peace, love, and happiness to yours truly. In the above picture, he and I would essentially bleed over into each other, with our ways of being blending and meshing. I don’t think that’s quite right. What I do think is that our “Us” was born when we began interacting. With my view of things, our “Us” requires feeding in order to grow and thrive. As it was fed by my responding to his needs, and his responding to my needs, it grew and began to assume its own shape/flavor/color/whatever. Don’t think permanent shape/flavor/color/whatever, either; each “Us” fluctuates daily based on what it’s fed. And for the record, I also believe there’s another “Us” between me and each of my friends, and that “Us” has its own flavor, separate from each other one. In other words? Each person you interact with is an opportunity to develop a new, unique “Us.” Nope, I got no scientific anything to back up the fluff I’m tryin’ to sell you … just a lot of experience. Anyway. Each interaction between my DH and myself then feeds or starves our “Us”. In order for we, as a couple (or as friends, or whatever the relationship) to thrive, our “Us” must thrive. It must be fed a steady diet of affirmation, love, respect, courtesy, care … all those warm fuzzy feelings that give me the squidgies! Ok, no, I’m not the most warm/fuzzy person out there, even if my goals are peaceful!
Anyway. Per my view of things, if we’re careful of each interaction; if we strive for each interaction to be positive; if we treat each and every interaction as though it’s necessary for the survival of our relationship, then our “Us” is going to thrive. If, on the other hand, I treat him abusively; if he discounts me or the things that are important to me; if I don’t value his input; if he doesn’t respect my wishes … if these things aren’t carefully, consistently, and lovingly managed, then our relationship itself will wither and die.
That’d be very sad-making for me.
Now, how does my concept of “Us” apply to this whole SJW thing? Simple. There is an “Us” that exists within every single relationship, even if it’s just a very temporary one, say, with the clerk behind the cash register at the store. And each impact on the “Us” between you & whomever impacts a life.
Just think about that a moment.
So, let’s take some rude woman who shoves her way in front of you at the check-out counter. Do you think she’s caring, one least little bit, about any ephemeral “Us” between you and herself? Of course not! This is what allows her to be rude. However, now that I’ve mentioned it, and you’ve read it, I can bet you’re thinking about it! This, then, presents several options. Do you ignore her behavior? Honestly, I suck at that. If someone’s being ugly, I try to call them on it. But then that puts responsibility on me; since I think this “Us” thing is real, does that mean I shouldn’t call her out? Oh, what wicked quandaries I run in to when I overthink things! Seriously, though, there are several choices available to me when I deal with her.
The very first question I must ask myself is whether I really care about the relationship that’s been established between myself and Rude Woman. I mean, I may not, ya know? I may just choose to shrug it off and go about my day without consideration for her actions. I can do that. Hey, guess what — so can you!
The second question I always ask myself is what I expect the outcome to be, if I do call her on it. Do I expect her to be remorseful? Do I expect her to care? Do I want to see her apologize? Do I want to just be rude right back to her? My motivation in this instance is critical — not to her, nor for her, but to me and for me. You see, it comes down to expenditure of energy for me. If I call her out for being rude, with an unrealistic expectation (say, of her remorse), then I’ll likely be disappointed as I’ll have expended energy trying to get her to see things my way. But if my little pea-brain says “Hm. She may be having a bad day,” then I could just quip something simple like “That’s ok, I’m not in a rush,” and deliver that statement with a completely sincere smile. You see, karma will love me for that one, and if Rude Woman is having a bad day, I may have given her an opportunity to realize she’s being rude, and the opportunity to apologize. It’s all about my intent, my motivation, even if I choose to react to what she did, rather than just ignore it.
Yes, I’ll be writing a post about choices at some point too. That one’ll be fun, trust me!
Anyway, back on to the topic of “Us.” Even if it’s not quite a good representation of the energy that’s shared among individuals, I think it’s close, and it puts the responsibility for my part in each and every relationship I have squarely on my shoulders. And that ain’t such a bad thing, all things considered. It allows me to step back and consider some important factors, chief among them being “What, if anything, do I choose to contribute to this interaction?” When we step back and think this to ourselves, our position will often change. We go from being isolated to, all of a sudden, realizing that as much as Rude Woman impacted me by pushing herself in front of me, I can also impact her, or I can choose not to. I can impact her in a beneficial manner, a benign manner, or in a confrontational manner. I can give back to her the same level of callous disregard she gave to me, or I can take that, reshape it, and give it back in a manner that might just help her. Who knows?
“Us” is an important factor in each and every interaction we have ever had, or will ever have. If you’re wondering why your relationship with whatever other significant person in your life is sucking, I’d say begin with yourself. What are your expectations? What are your goals? Are you actively feeding your “Us” things that will help it grow? Are you the only one feeding your “Us”? Is your friend/partner/whatever also working to feed your “Us”? Is he/she contributing things that will help your “Us” grow, or are they contributing things that will cause it to stifle, wither, shrivel up & die? Both people in any relationship are necessary for your “Us” to thrive, and both people need to be equally committed to its growth; if you’re not, it ain’t gonna grow, and you’re gonna be wondering again why it didn’t work out.
What can you do to harm your “Us”? You can not listen — and for what it’s worth, Google the difference between hearing and listening. I’m sure I’ll write about that at some point in the future, as well! But you can not listen to them. You can not care about their wants, their needs, their dreams. You can want to overpower them, or intimidate them, or make them reliant on you. You can drive off their friends. You can be rude to them. You can, in short, put yourself before that other person in your interactions. This’ll starve your “Us” for sure!
On the other hand, how can you feed your Us? You can listen. Reach out. Touch. Hug. Laugh. Call or text or email when you’re thinking about that person. If they call or text or email you, respond. If you can’t right away, be sure you do later. Don’t let anyone think they’re unimportant to you — if you value that relationship. Years ago my DH came across this article about relationships. Responding to these bids feeds our “Us”.
What we tend to not realize is that most interactions are bids, of some sort, for a reaction. So what was Rude Woman’s bid? Did she truly not care? Was she asking for attention? Did she even realize she was making a bid? Who knows? But her actions created a situation; we have discernment (even if we don’t realize it!), and we can choose our response. I believe that, choosing our response within the context of “Us” can open up more pathways than we may’ve thought. I mean, seriously, most of us would find it entirely appropriate to respond to Rude Woman with the same callous behavior she exhibited. For me, to do that would be making another choice — do I descend to her level? Because if I responded to her with her level of rudeness, I’d be giving back to her exactly what she gave me.
Each interaction with people gives me the opportunity to do that, or to rise above that. I’m curious to see if this can help with your interactions with people around you; loved ones, friends, strangers — you name it. Best wishes!