Our Feelings Matter, But So Do Theirs | by mabelkeith | Jun, 2024

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16 Nov 23

Zoon Politicon” — this phrase, used by Aristotle to describe mankind, means that humans are political animals, or social creatures. According to Aristotle, humans are naturally inclined to live in societies that support their welfare and growth. This idea is supported by modern evolutionary biology, which shows that humans are social animals who evolved in small groups of hunters and gatherers. Cooperation, altruism, and morality are traits that helped them survive and thrive in harsh environments. Additionally, neuroscience and genetics reveal that humans have brain structures and hormones that facilitate social bonding, empathy, and trust, shaped by both nature and nurture.

However, I’ve come to realize that at our core, every human being is fundamentally selfish. Why? Essentially, every human being strives to preserve its own life in its own unique way. Humans, as Aristotle said, are designed to survive by being part of a community. So, we live for our own well-being, involving others to achieve it.

From this perspective, we can see the fundamental characteristics of human nature. And based on this, I want to relate it to my personal experience as a human being.

Well, we are complex beings that experiencing a spectrum of emotions — joy, sadness, anger, anxiety, and many others that arise from our life experiences. Here, I want to share the pain and disappointment I’ve felt from my interactions with others and what I learned from that.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting deeply on my past relationships with people who are no longer in my life. I often wonder why things ended like this. I asked myself,

“Why did they hurt me?”

“Why did they do things that broke my heart?”

“I’ve tried my best, but I still got hurt”

“I never intentionally hurt them. If I seemed unpleasant, it was because they made me feel that way first.”

“ They were so selfish, right?”

This led me to revisit our shared moments, which I luckily still have archived on my phone. I began reading our old conversations from the top to the bottom, paying attention to every detail, and recalling each moment. I opened screenshots of important things, photos, and any information I could dig up. And what I discovered was that I had also contributed to their discomfort and pain.

I started to realize that I was selfish too. I always wanted to be understood but didn’t understand them enough. Despite the many things they expressed to me, I missed various traits that explained their behavior. One person mentioned he found it hard to open up to others and kept things to themselves. At that time, I was passive, ignorant, and didn’t help him out of that situation. I wondered why he never showed his feelings and his emotions to me and just accepted everything until the end, without understanding his struggles because I was too focused on my own feelings. Another person told me that they had abandonment issues, and while I knew this, I still let them feel lonely at times, even though I had offered to be there for them and being 911 during difficult times in their life.

When they got tired of me and felt uncomfortable, they left. Without realizing it, I wondered why they did that. I felt like I didn’t do anything wrong. Or did I? If so, what exactly? In the end, I felt like i am the victim, thinking I was the only one hurt. But after realizing this, maybe they also felt sad and hurt. Sometimes, I often labeled people as “toxic” without acknowledging that I might also be “toxic” to others.

Maybe, this is a gentle reminder to myself that while we live for ourselves, we are our own universe among a multiverse of consciousness. But we must remember that we are political animals, naturally designed to connect with others. Building relationships is our transaction of staying alive and thriving. What we wish to receive should balance with what we give. Everyone has a bit of selfishness, but we must recognize that each person has their own life, interests, and goals. If you want to be loved properly, then love them properly. If you want to be treated kindly, then treat others kindly too. Our feelings matter, but so do theirs.

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