Why are we nicer to strangers?

Stop! Let’s be better with our nearest and dearest.

Image courtesy Ariel Pilotto from Unsplash

I’ve been struck often in life by how casually we can be cruel to our family and friends. I suppose I can be a bit sensitive. Still, even if I factor in this, there is a whole lot of blatant taking for granted, carelessness and ungratefulness for our near and dear ones in evidence, objectively and absolutely.

Why are we like this? If you’ve read my Philosophy of Life Instinct, you’ll know that all our behaviours result from our evolution which follows the Laws of Life Instinct.

We treat our people poorly for positive and negative reasons, of which we are mostly unconscious. When we begin to notice, observe, think and understand what’s happening, we empower ourselves for greater joy.

Positive reasons for raw behaviour within our circle

  1. It encourages individual differences that make our species more robust. We can be ourselves, warts and all, yet be accepted and validated.
  2. We grow closer when we are honest with each other about our feelings and thoughts.
  3. It is efficient and gets things done quickly, expending less energy in maintaining a facade.

Negative reasons for poor behaviour with our loved ones

  1. We are afraid if we make loved ones feel superior by showing gratitude and respect, they may start thinking they are too good for us.
  2. We are afraid we’ll seem inferior in showing empathy, appreciation and respect as it can be construed as weakness by our loved ones and diminish our value in their eyes.

Why we are good to distant people and strangers

On the other hand, why we are nice with acquaintances and unknown people is obvious, which is to strengthen the social networks on which we depend for our survival, well-being and mating for reproduction. Still, let’s capture the reasons for etiquette, good manners and decorum.

  1. We want to put our best foot forward to be valued and liked by others.
  2. We need to oil the wheels of social systems, so they run efficiently for our benefit.
  3. We save the energy of deeper feeling and thinking for ourselves and our loved ones.

The potential in tuning our behaviour

Yet, too much of anything is wrong, and humans are pretty prone to excess. Just as we can be too accommodating with peripheral people, we can be harmfully unthoughtful and callous with our own. And we don’t just dole it out; we receive it in good measure. At its best, it is a temporary hurt; at worst, it can break relationships.

The correction has to begin somewhere. We could start with ourselves. Let’s start changing from this moment. It’s not complicated. Even if we start with just ‘please’, ‘sorry’, and ‘thanks’ for our family and friends, it will start having an impact. If we can take it up to saying ‘I love you’ and hugging our cherished ones, it will work wonders. Telling them once in a while why we appreciate them would be miraculous for most of us.

None of us is immune from being taken for granted either. So when we think it is beyond the pale, we can ask for change from others. But gently.

Whatever we achieve in being nicer to our precious people, I guarantee it will pay rich dividends. We have but one life and the tremendous ability to do simple things to make it a hundred times more joyful. What is astounding is how little we exercise this power.

Would you please let me know your thoughts? I am sorry I can’t spend more time getting to know you better, my reader. And thank you, I appreciate you for sharing your time with me.

Have a nice day, dear friend.

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