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Society teaches contradicting things

27th Dec 20164m42s

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  • I was speaking to my friend earlier about how modern society encourages us to do two different things, which actually conflict with each other. On one hand we're encouraged to be an individual looking out for our own self interest. So just from the day you start going to school you're told that you have to study to get the good grades to get into a good college to get a good job so you have the money to spend on the things you want. And spending money on the things you want helps drive the economy. Advertisements tell you that if you can spend the money on getting this thing or that thing or this other thing then you can look better, you can feel better, you can become more successful. Overall your life's gonna be better. So it's very much a focus on the individual, on fulfilling yourself, on realizing the best possible version of yourself and the idea that that's the version of the self that the world wants to see from you. And even on social networks like Facebook people very often tend to post the best things about their life because they know that other people are looking at their feed, and they want to present themselves as somebody who has a lot going on in their life. Now that's the one thing society tells you, to be an individual, to be a consumer, to be self orientated, self interested, to make money for yourself. The other hand, society encourages us to be in a relationship. To create a family. But to be in a relationship means to have to compromise. It means you can't just look out for your own self interest all the time, you have to look out for the interests of self, yourself and the people you care about. It means having to compromise on your decision-making power. It means not always getting the things that you want the way you want them. Sometimes you don't get what you want because you have to share your decision-making with somebody else. And these two things I feel are in conflict. Because on one hand I'm encouraged to simply do what I wanna do all the time, on the other hand if I want to have a successful relationship I can't just do what I want to do all the time. In fact the only way my relationship can be successful is if what I want to do in any moment is completely aligned with what needs to happen for the relationship. In other words what my partner wants to do as well. Which of course can't happen, right? So, people compromise. So on one hand we're encouraged to think only of ourselves, on the other hand we're encouraged to think of the other as well. And getting it right means getting the right balance between these two things. To really have a great relationship you have to be willing to open up to your partner. You have to let them in to understanding who you really are as a person, and this means being vulnerable, which kind of goes against the consumerist mindset the individualist is needed to have. Because in that mindset it's about being the best you can be. It's about presenting the best face possible. And vulnerability typically doesn't come into that. When we think about how we are gonna behave when we meet new people, when we go to a party, when we go to an event, when we're networking, or we're just talking to people generally, vulnerability isn't really something that plays a role for most of us. We want that person to think well of us. We want that person to feel that we're somebody worth hanging out with, or we're somebody worth knowing for their sake. So if we had to be vulnerable, if we wanted to be vulnerable, maybe that would involve revealing something about us, which we feel would make us appear weak to the other person. Now this might not actually be true objectively speaking, but typically we tend to feel that way. We tend to shy away from revealing too much about our inner thoughts and demons to other people until we know them well enough. And most people will tell you that that's a logical approach to take. But in a relationship in order to reach the real depth of connection you have to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to reveal the deepest part of you to the other person. At least the kind of loving deep relationship that I envision in my mind. Of course, because people can have different kinds of relationships with their partners. So it's interesting for me that there's this contradiction in terms between how you have to be an individualist in today's society, and how you have to be a partner in a relationship. Of course I feel that if you can be vulnerable in both situations, if you can express your most authentic self in both situations then life is going to be as easy as it can possibly be for you, because then you don't have to pretend, you don't have to mask yourself in any particular way. But of course you need tact and you need to know how to do it in such a way that you don't leave yourself open for conflict with other people.