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Self-Insights — 5 Comments

  1. Sometimes I wonder what I would be like in a tribe. I’m thinking of my distant ancestors who would have grown up with the same group of people, particularly the women, all of their lives. If I lived like them, I would have close friends all around me and they would also know my introverted ways and give me space to be by myself when I needed it. I would have had loving community and alone time.

    We live in funky times as far as biological evolution is concerned. In modern times, I can and usually am around strangers every day. Every single day of my life I rub shoulders with people who don’t know me at all. From a tribal point of view, that’s crazy. No wonder we have trouble with small talk, aloneness, not being understood, and craving community.

    • nice to hear i’m not the only one imagining how life would be in a tribe……i find it comforting and wonderful daydreaming……and i totally agree that spending our lives mostly with total strangers is crazy, frustrating, and a source of misery for all of us.

  2. i think that the main reason people stick with small-talk so much is, like u said: fear (of what controversies, animosities, even demands might explode out of open, head-on engagement !)

    sometimes THAT assessment helps me venture cautiously beyond the small-talk; eg, when feeling relatively ‘safe’ i try saying something like: “isn’t it strange (funny?)that nobody’s even mentioning the escalating war threats on the news this week?!”……….without expecting much but relief to express some of who i really am…….

    it seems to take well, since that doesn’t compel the discussion, but expresses my need to know more of the reason for that……..which can often lead right into EMPATHY! I often get responses like: “oh, it’s so stressing and scary, it gets my blood pressure up, so i don’t even watch the news!”…….which opens the floor for true empathy….

    other times the answer is (surprisingly!)…”oh, yes, it drives me crazy how everyone ignores this threat and pretends all’s perfectly well !!”

    …….which already opens a door for connection….even if short-lived….because unless the other party shows interest to pursue it further, i can be much happier going back to small-talk than i had been before……

    a connection was made that felt authentic, though short-lived………

    once again, this is only viable when i’m feeling capable of taking some measure of risk.

    when my safety and nurturing needs are very strong, i prefer not to even try that approach…… and i;m working on accepting myself that way……not an easy job……

  3. yes…the challenge of small-talk!
    for me, at times it’s a godsend…..eg, when i must be in company i don’t have anything in common with…..i either agonize till i get away…..or i use some small-talk to soften the pain.

    but, what is that pain? for me, it’s knowing that there’s almost no chance of ever going beyond the small-talk in that particular company.

    but, small-talk sometimes works wonders for me where least expected: suddenly, after a couple of minutes of ‘blah’, something opens up! i find those i’m with surprisingly hungry to go beyond it into deeper, more valuable stuff! turns out, they, like me, suffer from the same social needs and pains….they, too, yearn for a meaningful, authentic conversation…..

    but, that happens only rarely……..AND…..i have learned that i by no means want to have to go through that process always. i want the freedom to choose not to even try…..when that is my true preference….

    re: other people’s display of great joy……yes, what a foil that can be to otherwise useful solitude……………on the one hand, it reinforces how important solitude really is……on the other, it can, with luck, be a reminder that i ALSO need my connections and social affiliations…….with the help of some luck and lots of hard efforts through the bad times………….(precious, rare, delicate BALANCE !!)

    • Thank you for the reminder of the possibility of deepening a conversation! Although, right now, that seems even more scary to me than to just maintain small-talk, I might try to do that. Or I could practice silent empathy to learn to see what’s behind the small talk… I don’t know – it seems like there might be some ways of making small talk more interesting :-). Though of course, one point I was trying to make is that not enjoying small talk is completely acceptable…

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