I do my thing, and you do your thing.

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I believe that with this now famous poem,  Fritz Perls was trying to help people rid themselves of the excessive and guilt-based demands that people often make on themselves and one another.

I do my thing, and you do your thing.

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations

And you are not in this world to live up to mine.

You are you and I am I, if by chance we find each other, itís beautiful.

If not, it canít be helped.

Fritz Perls

 However, what he wrote became vulgarized into a call for emotional irresponsibility. In essence, it supported the belief that we are not responsible for the way others feel.

Another source for that belief is a particular interpretation of Buddhism which also deeply influenced the human potential movement in the U.S. It claims that we must strive to disconnect our emotions from the actions of others.

Whatever its source, the belief that we cannot make one another feel is the high point of emotional illiteracy.

Years ago, I was so disturbed by the misguided implications in Perlsís poem that I wrote a response to it:


If I do my thing and you do your thing

And if we donít live up to each otherís expectations

We might live but the world will not survive.

You are you, and I am I,

and together, joining hands, not by chance,

We will find each other beautiful.

If not, we canít be helped.

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