The story we tell ourselves about others is so important! Just becoming aware of the necessity of this kind of story in our life is a huge step forward in every personal evolutionary journey. Although it is so important, it is not the first on our “spiritual needs” list. Not many people are able to feel this “need”. In Maslow’s first “pyramids” of needs, it even does not exist! It is a spiritual need for sure, because someone has to evolve in order to feel this need! Only in Maslow’s last pyramid of needs, it does exist, as the last level of self-transcendence needs.
The story we tell ourselves about others – consciously for the first time, in order to inform a more cooperative personal behavior and shape healthier human relations – is about self-transcendence. In the “Circle of needs” frame, this need is expressed as Community actualization. We can consciously craft a story about others that is conducive to fairness, cooperation, mutual-consistency and inter-dependency. This is what a healthy human community is all about.
In my evolutionary journey, first (when I was around 20 years) I was focusing on the story I tell myself about myself. This was the most important thing for me to do in those times: I needed to understand who I am, which is my inner calling, what “great purpose” I am here to serve for? Naturally, the quest to find these answers drove me to another very important spiritual journey, to find even a more basic answer: Where I am coming from? And where I am living? I wanted to understand more about the Universe, about our amazing Planet, about the evolution of the human species I am part of. I needed from the beginning – as anyone needs – that my existence to be meaningful. Naturally, coming from my deep core and not from philosophical readings, I felt to be connected with “something greater than me”. So, another spiritual journey/quest started: to find the deepest answers every human needs to find. To “find” the answers is not the perfect term for this kind of endeavor. Actually, to “find” the “Book of Life”/ “the elixir of Life”, “the hidden treasure” etc. is a symbol for personal evolution. But you can not evolve, you can not change or transform yourself without changing the story you tell yourself about yourself. So, first things first: you have to craft meaningful stories about yourself and about the Universe you live in and about the human species (if you want really to understand where you come and how you become who you are). So, this could be considered somehow “the basic spiritual need”: to “find yourself”, to “discover your authenticity” etc.
Only then you can go further toward “self-actualization” and “self-transcendence” (on Maslow scale), or “Community actualization” (on Floris Koot scale). And here comes the story you tell yourself about others.
After this “philosophical” introduction, I would like to tell you the story I tell myself about others. I crafted myself with a very specific purpose in mind: to inform a behavior conducive to others. I want my behavior to be conducive to others (I call it symbiotic behavior in another article). I want my behavior to be conducive to cooperation toward mutual consistency, toward “community actualization”.
Why a behavior conducive to cooperation?
According to the scientific understanding, the evolution on this Planet has a clear direction – and this direction is toward cooperation. The cooperators will inherit the Earth! It is obvious that our social and ecological challenges could be overcome only through cooperation.
Who will evolve a behavior conducive to others’ well-being (mutual-consistency), conducive to healthy and fruitful human relations will have a clear evolutionary advantage. Besides this, it will be more pleasant to live in a fair and cooperative social space.
And now, the story in a nutshell (there are 3 important layers):
1. We are a heroic species
2. We are a cooperative species
3. We need an innovative behavior that could overcome our crises
1. We are not a dumb or aggressive species. We are a heroic species, taking Life’s evolutionary journey further. We are Life groping further. We always are opening Life’s new frontiers, where nobody was before. It is normal for living beings to make “mistakes” in such conditions. We are actually not “mistaking” in an absolute sense, but learning and evolving. We are a heroic species, in one of the hardest moments in its heroic journey – the innermost cave (see Hero Journey archetype). So, whenever someone makes “mistakes” (from my point of view), he or she is part of a heroic species that try to find a better way further in its evolutionary journey. In the end, we are even more than complementary: we are solidary. It is not about “good ones” and “evil ones” – it is about us as a species, finding a way further, learning and evolving as a species. For me is not at all about “fighting the evil” of others, but understanding that everything every human does creates the “game” I have to play. And I decided to enjoy this game. This is my metaphysical choice – the core of the first layer of the story I tell myself about others – that even the most horrible things that humans can do are triggering the conditions for the human species to go further. It is not about some evil people, but about “something greater than me” that is groping/finding its way further. If you want to be a creative part of a Universe like ours – ever-evolving, self-creating, unexpected and beautiful – embrace all its expressions! Here, in this decision, I found my best way to fulfill my inner calling, my role in the unfolding of Life: play the “game” the Universe itself offers you; enjoy the “game”, trust the process, trust the Universe wisdom. Let yourself be inspired and come with your participation in this beautiful and meaningful dance – but one that is co-creating with others, one that could integrate and embrace all others’ “mistakes”.
2. We are an incredible cooperative species. From the first bands of hominids that chose to leave their shrinking forest and adventure into the grassland till the creation of this article – everything is about cooperation. We could not survive as hominids without strengthening the cooperation between us. We could not evolve as humans without cooperation. For every challenge we have faced in our evolutionary journey, we chose to strengthen the cooperation between us.
Every living being has two powerful commandments: 1) to survive and 2) to connect with something greater than it. Actually, these two commandments are one, because nothing could survive alone, out of the Great Circle of Life. We all, as living beings, want to connect with something greater than us, to be part of something greater than us. There is no other chance to survive.
Humans evolve only through so-called “group selection”. We survive only as groups. Every human being is yearning for belongingness. Each human being can not have meaning out of a human community. We are eager to help each other: that brings us joy and fulfills our lives. So, this is the story I tell myself about others: that every human being is wired for cooperation and happy to inter-relate with others. All I have to do is to find the “door” to their heart. The behavior I chose to consciously evolve is one that is conducive to other well-being and cooperation. The story I tell myself about others is a story that values them, welcomes them; a story that gives me the trust to open myself to others and behave with them in ways that make them flourish, that fulfills their needs. This is what I call symbiotic behavior. Of course, I am aware that in the last centuries and especially now, at the end of the capitalist civilization, people are so used to be and behave individualistically. But I trust that we are still wired for cooperation: our species survived and thrived living in tribes – living in mutually-consistent cooperation. I believe that if I come with this symbiotic behavior – and face their inevitable individualism and “mistakes” remaining conducive to them and not becoming aggressive in return, after a while, the most majority of people will respond accordingly, with an open door and open heart. This is my metaphysical choice – the core of this second layer of the story I tell myself about others. Here, in this decision, I found my best way to fulfill my inner calling, my role in the unfolding of Life: be conducive to others’ well-being, be conducive to fairness and mutual-consistency!
3. We have to find a way to overcome our social and ecological challenges. I am sure that something greater than us informs us. I am not inventing this “symbiotic behavior” alone and the Butterfly Communities open-project is not my invention alone, but I am just part of a process that encompasses the whole of humanity. The same emergent space of meaning that inspires me, for sure inspires others too. So, I believe that in our days more and more people are searching for the same things as me, for a way to overcome our crisis, for a way to cooperate fairly. I believe – and this is the third core metaphysical choice of the story I tell myself about others – that thousands and even millions of people feel the same and are “discovering” this symbiotic behavior. These are the people I will found and they will find me in co-creating a better social space for us and our children.
So, if this story makes sense for you, craft a similar one that fits your own situation and aspirations and reshape your behavior to be conducive to whatever you want to bring in this world.