November 28, 2017 Blog No Comments

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we typically extend ourselves to our families and others. We put our “me’ orientation on hold and adapt a more generous “we” focus. The joy this creates is palpable. I’m more aware of it this year because of the pain I heard from family when one person didn’t join in. It literally sent them into a tail spin of rejection, feeling that the family was being divided. It illustrated the need for balance between Me and We.

We had a glorious time with most of our family present and honored a nurse who has taken care of our elderly parents for years. It was a celebration of our family values of being loyal and “we oriented”. But there were those who couldn’t come, which is understandable, and those who choose not to come that hurt others. Is there a right and wrong here or is there need for a new paradigm – one that is more balanced?

At a time when the focus of change in the US is trending toward policies that are greedy and self-serving for the few, a review on how to achieve this balance may be helpful. We are in the midst of a struggle of values and priorities. How can we balance being self-serving and “me oriented” with the greater good of all and “we oriented”?

Here are some of my thoughts on this leading to why a new balanced paradigm is needed:


How it’s necessary: Being responsible and self sufficient is highly valued in our culture. We expect our children to grow into these attributes and tend to be disappointed when they don’t. We know that there’s been gender bias, with this expectation put solidly on men, with a less clear message on women’s’ roles. Despite this history of inequity, there is a strong value toward being responsible for yourself.

If we can agree that the airlines have it right, when they tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before helping others, we can understand why taking care of “me” has to come first.

How it hurts others: The people who are self-absorbed, greedy, expect everything to go their way, and are dismissive of others cause a lot of pain. The psychological term “narcissistic” is used to describe this person and can also define a culture or institution. It includes a lack of consideration toward others, including being disdainful and not caring or responding to feedback.

When a person or group’s behavior is a source of distress because they only consider their own perspective, disregard other feelings, and consider themselves always right, their “me orientation” is hurtful.


How it’s necessary: The concept of serving the greater good has an important role in the maintenance of social order. From the days of community barn raisings to social work projects during the depression, to funding for community mental health services, creating a safety net for those with less and in need has been a value that has created social stability and confidence.

The degree to which government, communities and families take care of those in need is the mark of an enlightened culture.

How it hurts others: There is controversy over defining at what point giving to those in need becomes hurtful. Does it create dependency, does it inaccurately assume that they are not able, does it make the person feel inferior, is it a means of social control for certain classes of people? In these instances, the model of “taking care of” is hurtful and stigmatizing.

When government, communities and families take care of those with less by wrongly assuming they are unable, it becomes hurtful.


Yes, there are good and bad aspects to each me vs. me way of thinking. When we go too far in either direction there are problems. It illustrates why we need a shift in our thinking and a new model. What would a balanced model of Me/ We include?

·     Consideration of the perspectives from both sides

·     Listening for understanding is valued

·     Communication is open and respected

·     It focuses on finding the common ground of agreement

·     Negotiation is used to find the wise solution

·     The individual and greater good are both served

·     Everyone feels like their needs are served

This balanced model requires intelligent involvement, an open mind and the desire for wisdom to prevail. It can be used between partners, in families, works settings, communities and governments. It starts with dropping the desire to create a polarity of right and wrong, or winners and losers to find the truth of a balanced perspective. We are currently far removed from this way of interacting with one another. In fact, the fight for yourself model we currently see in operation only seems to enhance our most base characteristics. It’s time for a change.

Where are you with your ability to stand up for your needs and also consider the needs of other? Are you aware of the impact of your own behavior? How could this balanced model serve you in your life? The more we all take responsibility for creating a new culture of interaction in our lives, the more impact we will have in making our world safer and more respectful.

Is this something you’d like to explore for yourself or with the people in your life? I welcome you to reach out and learn more about how this could work for you. See my website for more information. And consider joining my workshop at Centered on December 8th  from 6:00-8:00 PM  – “2017 Manifestation Review” – to discover the direction your life is taking you and how you can make it the most beneficial. Contact Centered to register 859-721-1841.

Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com