Nothing Stands Alone

  • August 02, 2023
  • Rosemarie Perla, MS, MA

Sometimes when I want to calm my brain at night from the day’s activities, I watch a program about the vastness of the universe.  Listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson describe the universe and black holes, I soon rise above the petty concerns of the day. It’s a big universe out there, and although I am in it, my concerns are a bit part of it.

I recently learned from Neil that all the planets, stars, and galaxies are in a relationship with each other:

“We are all connected; to each other, biologically.  To the earth, chemically.  To the rest of the universe, atomically.”

Richard Rohr, founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque NM, observes:

“The energy in the universe is not in the planets or in the protons or neutrons, but in the relationship between them.”

The universe is a system where each part does not stand alone. Nor do we.

Too often, I hear people remark, “I like being alone.  I don’t need to be around people.”  I hear leaders say: “It’s better to lock myself in my office in front of a screen than deal with my co-workers!” True, others can be tough to relate to and understand, and so can we.

Yet in his studies, social psychologist Dr. Chris Peterson discovered that “there are no happy hermits.”

Relationships hold us together—as families, as businesses, in community organizations.  The health and well-being of these systems and their people depend on the quality of their relationships.

Relationships are not “one-walk-a-day dogs,” as my graduate school professor often said. They need timely attention, nurturing and a willingness to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes instead of reacting to the story we create about them. This may require us to calm our egos while interacting with others. People have many facets; there is more to them than how they show up at work.

Yes, this takes attention and energy. However, what happens when we don’t do this?  Loneliness, a significant health issue, increases. We become more disengaged. We may feel more estranged from others—less understood.  At work, emails replace face to face conversations. Silos shut down cross-functional relationships. Companies’ missions are lost in the walls built. Reactivity increases, and rational thinking decreases. Negative comments become the norm and pollute good intentions.  Polarization results, which tears communities and even countries apart.

In the universe, however, there seems to be an innate intelligence that makes the objects stay in a relationship with each other. The parts, matter, and energy need each other to function well. 

As do we. The more we can understand each other, allowing for the give and take that supports everyday life, the better our systems function. The better we function! Relationship deepening allows for a life that has meaning, connection, and joy, where we participate with energy and movement. 

Let’s take some lessons from the Universe – after all, it’s been around longer than you and I.

Rosemarie Perla, MS, MA
Psychologist and Leadership Development Coach

10 Replies to “Nothing Stands Alone”

  1. Thanks so much for your post. I watch similar shows for the same reasons you do, and I’ve also heard descriptions of the universe as a living system. This has given some useful analogies for communicating about systems at the human level.

    1. Yes, Carl, and thank you for your reading and comment. I agree that the more I study living systems, the more objectivity I gain in the relationships around me…offering me a bit of breathing and thinking space.

  2. Mmmhmm. Thanks for taking us up and out 🔺 into the cosmos with your write-up. It’s so easy to stay focused on the micromovements of one or another and less so the self ‘in relation to’. Humanity must make the leap to the triangle – the ‘the broader view’. Well, at least a handful of courageous souls in the beginning;) Thanks for this blog entry, Rosemarie. It’s nice to hear your thoughts.

    1. Allison, your view on the broader view is essential as the “micromovements” of our lives grab our attention too often, which does not allow for our best thinking. Thinking of the cosmos and my small part in it calms me down. Appreciate your creative thoughts!

  3. What thoughts do you have, Rosemarie, what is beyond the universe? I first had that question after listening to Lloyd Motz, guest lecturer at one of the GFC symposiums years ago. Perhaps our universe is one of many, like cells in a body, that come together and function within a larger entity.
    It helps me to have a theory that helps explain how what goes on in the family system and what makes it “function well.” Thanks

  4. Catherine, first of all, thank you for your writing and research in your book: Making Sense of Human Life, Murray Bowen’s Determined Effort Toward Family Systems Theory, as it has given me a deeper understanding of the Family System Theory and how Dr. Bowen came to his thinking. Yes, I often wonder about what is beyond our Universe…and studying Natural Systems Theory gives me a deeper understanding of my own part in the systems I am in at home and work. Thank you for referencing Lloyd Metz as I will look up his work.

  5. Rosemarie, I loved this piece. My husband watches cosmology videos and tells me about them on our walks–which helps our relationship. And I learn a few things about the relationships within the universe.

  6. Margaret, I think you described the meaning, connection, and joy that can come with investing in relationships! Although I am still a beginner in understanding the cosmos, your husband’s interest is also one of mine.

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