Mirrors: What Do You Bring to Your Relationships?

What do you bring to your relationships?

This topic came up in a conversation I had recently. We were talking about the challenge of “being oneself” in a close relationship after my conversation partner was criticized by a friend for being “self-focused” (read: selfish) on what she wanted from the relationship. Without sharing the whole conversation, I wanted to share where this took my mind in terms of brain activity.

Often, eastern and western cultures are talked about as focusing on the individual or the collective.


Western cultures are often described as individualistic — that we focus on the individual as a person separate from others. We may interact with others, but our worldview sees each person as a distinct and separate entity unto itself.


Eastern cultures, on the other hand, are described as collectivist — that each person always feels themselves part of a web of relationships, not really ever a separate entity, but an element in a web of relationships for which they share responsibility.


As happens so often, because of our brain's efficiency in creating categories for clarity, we tend to see these alternative worldviews as Either ~ Or. But what might happen if we try to also create a Both~ And perspective on these?