Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,

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How is spitefulness, jealousy, shallowness, resentment, denial, other mean-spririted behaviours, and other negative thoughts useful?

We all have the capacity for these behaviours at times, but how are they useful?

Are they preliminary paths towards a healthier type of thinking or behaviour?

  • Jul 5 2012: Debbie Ford wrote a really neat book about this called "The Dark Side of the Light-Chasers."
    I think she did a great job of showing how our "darker sides" have very useful functions, and how looking into these things without shame casn reveal how great these qualities really can be at certain times. She says these are actually good qualities, "...They are simply overamplified." (If you're being ignored at a restaurant & are real hungry, some meanness may help you get fed.)
    She says the reverse, (over-valuing the "good"), is also bad: that she couldn't feel pretty bc she was always trying to hide her ugliness.
    She touches on a great explanation of shame vs guilt!! (I speak of it here http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html?c=449121 )
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      Jun 25 2012: Thanks for the addition to your previous comment. This addition has increased my thumbs up for your comments. =)

      Fear does float on the surface of these smaller details, and it is sometimes hard to admit or submit to our fears and build courage from that point, but maybe all we need is a calm and considerate place of love. =)
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          Jul 13 2012: I think you have the right mentality to "try too hard", but maybe everyone needs to just try and worry less. Hopefully that will make everyone less spiteful etc. =)
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    Jun 22 2012: The only useful aspect I can think of for any of these is that when you find these attributes in yourself it may allow you to be more compassionate toward others who display such traits rather than assigning them without further thought to the "evil" pile. There is virtue in seeing through to the good attributes of people, particularly as we all have flaws.
    Let's take denial as an example. If you have seen yourself in denial about something, you may be able to recognize it in another and perhaps feel the sympathy that allows you to help her see that that battle is already lost.
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      Jul 5 2012: Is it possible that these are self defense mechanisms in some peole?
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        Jul 5 2012: It sounds like you have something specific in mind?
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          Jul 5 2012: Thank you for pushing me a bit to think deeper, Fritzie. I was just consideing the qquestion itself: How is spitefulness, jealousy, shallowness, resentment, denial, other mean-spririted behaviours, and other negative thoughts useful?

          these things are rampant and many seem to accept them in themselves. My inner voice will not let me get away with it but the behaviours are so endemic that I wonder why they devloped in the first place. Are they somehow adaptive?
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        Jul 5 2012: Speculations then: Some of these behaviors may give the person a feeling of power that he cannot come by conveniently by other means. The interest in power may be connected to the likelihood of success in mating in early development of mammals.

        Those behaviors that involve a comparison of oneself with others, like jealosy or resentment, may somehow be rooted in the mammal's need for the mother's attention in order to survive. You know how nursing baby animals climb over each other to get to a suckling station and push each other out of the way automatically?
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          Jul 5 2012: Wow those are interesting thoughts! I would add th ephenomenon observed with coukous where the parent birds eject the other birds eggs to lay theirs in the nests of birds who parent well. They are usually smaller and kill themselves to rise up a cookoo whose fmaily killed their own offspring. I am not sure as of yet how to integrate these ideas into a coherent explanation of why these behaviours exist except that they must work for some (certainly not their victrims).
  • Jun 22 2012: No Derek. I see no value whatsoever. Such features are detrimental and do not enhance relationships. Replace these you mention with love and watch what happens. Yes, we are human and the best of desires can sometimes be negated for a moment by on or more from this list you provided.

    Let's replace bad with forgiveness; what the heck---we are human and we should expect faulty behavior or attitude on occasion. Some one asked on TED what is perfection. Let's at least TRY for it.

    Peace,
    MK
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      Jun 24 2012: Hey Mark!

      Been awhile since I've seen your comments. =)

      I agree with replacing the above topic with love, but why do we have these innate attributes in ourselves to begin with if they did not serve a (or several) purposes?

      I find that something that exists has a (or several) purposes, but they may be obscure and difficult to understand at times. Like opposites exist to bring balance, I think....
      • Jul 5 2012: Hello Derek, I have been busy moving residence and have not had much time to participate.

        There may be purposes that serve to catch attention so that we may consider a person's situation, condition, or propensity for life. In the long run, I don't see any lasting value.

        It is not necessary to affiliate with any of the world's religions to observe and assess human desires, personalities, values, or to admire what one recognizes as good. My real hero is Jesus and it is not necessary to be Christian to like his style or teachings and his personality. This person was not dominated by the characteristics listed above. People recognized the truth, beauty, and goodness of this man. Alive today, he would approve of the best of behavior of scientists, religious people--- anyone who attempts to be good and live with good relationships. There is more new information available on this Jesus.

        It's difficult to like persons who "rub you the wrong way", but making an effort to understand people is a right mind exercise that has strong potential for beginning to like someone. And liking one leads to beginnings of love.

        Some one asked what is love. It seems to me to include a desire to do good to one another. This is so much more attractive than being grumpy! Eh?
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          Jul 13 2012: Agreed Mark. =P

          So, maybe someday evolution will wipe out this reptillian emotions, or will it continue to stay with us due to "survival of the fittest"?
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    Jun 22 2012: Sometimes thay can motivate a person to make changes in their life so as to avoid these painful feelings.
  • Jul 12 2012: I don't know about the others, but the usefulness of denial is obvious.
    Denial lets us function when accepting the truth would be emotionally paralyzing.
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      Jul 13 2012: Should that individual be slowly guided out of denial?

      Denial may be a good repressor, but like any condition, it just takes the right triggers and environment to activate it, like certain dangerous bacterias or viruses that we are surrounded with every day, but never kills us unless in a certain environment.
      • Jul 13 2012: I do not know, I would leave that decision to the individual along with his/her family and friends, perhaps with the advise of a professional.
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      Jul 21 2012: Hence the expression "De Nile is not just a river in Egypt!"
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    Jul 5 2012: Darned good question. Now will all people who fit this description please stand up and introduce yourselves. Please pick up your belongings at the same time because we want this to work so you will be invited to leave immediately after iidentifying yourselves!