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Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


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How can overly empathetic/sympathetic people compete in this world? Do they eventually end up jaded and bitter?

The saying goes "nice guys finish last". I interpret that "nice" means overly empathetic/sympathetic people who sacrifice themselves for others happiness. Kindness seems to be a sign of weakness in that saying, as though people prey on those kind-hearted people. If it were true, then how do kind people compete in this world? Is it some kind of evolutionary Yin and Yang, where a balance of certain personalities need to exist for progress to happen or do people have peaks and troughs of kindness in them?

Update: Thought I'd share a fascinating article found in the comments below:


It is about the differences between being nice and being kind.


Closing Statement from Dyed All Hues

Thank you all for your well thought comments. I have learned a lot and I hope you've all taken some knowledge from this as well.

Be mindful of those around you and tread lightly on the paths made by your brothers and sisters of humankind.

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    Jan 23 2013: Since the human state that exists behind the states of being 'competitive' or 'empathetic' respectively are diametrically opposed, I believe you have hit upon an old problem that has existed since the Neolithic. Its my belief we must evolve a solution to this exact problem within our societies and quickly too.
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      Jan 24 2013: Joanne,
      I do not agree that the human state that exists behind the states of being competitive or empathetic are opposed. That is something we may have learned, and I don't think/feel it to be accurate information.

      I'm thinking about athletic competitions for example, and I also feel that empathy and competitiveness can exist in all situations, if we allow it to. Athlets are often very competitive, and can also be empathetic when one of their competitors experiences pain or challenge of some kind. We can be competitive in ourselves, and still reach out to others with empathy.....can we not?

      I believe we are multi sensory, multi dimensional beings, and can experience many different feelings and emotions at the same time. Often, humans have learned to seperate, and focus on one OR the other, when we can actually experience everything. Perhaps this recognition is part of the "solution" to the challenge?
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        Jan 28 2013: Hi Colleen, what I am saying is that the two states of being are in essence, mutually exclusive. In other words, the kinds of feelings that drive us when we are being competitive, are mutually exclusive to those that drive us if we are being loving. Just as we cannot commit an act of violence and an act of love simultaneously. We cannot hug and strike in the same gesture. The essence of those two feelings are diametrically opposed and in order to engage in empathy, one must step aside from competitiveness for that moment. Again, this is a problem of enormous magnitude when extrapolated to a global view.
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          Jan 28 2013: Hi Joanne,
          I think I understand what you are saying, and I agree that we cannot commit an act of violence and an act of love simultaniously. Those are "acts"......feelings/emotions that manifest into action. I also agree that we cannot hug and strike in the same gesture....again....action fueled by emotion.

          The essence of competitiveness and empathy are not mutually exclusive, in my experience and perception,. I have been a competitive athlete, and I can tell you that I and many athletes compete AND feel empathy at the same time.

          Competitiveness has gotten a bad reputation because we imagine that to be competitive, one has to "put down", "beat", "step on" the other person, and this is simply not true.

          Competitive simply means to "be "inclined, desiring, or suited to compete; depending for effectiveness on the relative concentration of two or more..."

          It is possible to compete....do the best we possibly can in certain practices (business, athletic, etc) AND still be empathetic (the capacity for participation in another's feelings or ideas).

          I guarentee that it is possible because I have experienced it. It is much more enjoyable to recognize other's skills and talents, WHILE recognizing our own skills and talents at the same time. I can play tenise, volleyball or sail boat race VERY competitively, and recognize that those I compete against are also playing the best they can. I can recognize their skill, talent, joy, frustration, etc. because I empathize with them.

          In business adventures, we can be competitive AND also recognize the feelings of others who are competing for the same things. I have also experienced this while owning/operating a small business. We can work WITH each other, while learning and growing with our competitiveness AND empathy/compassion.

          Yes, it is "a problem of enormous magnitude" if viewed from your perception. I believe that competitive and empathy are NOT mutually exclusive....UNLESS... perceived in that way....it is a choice.
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        Jan 29 2013: Hi again Colleen, I hear your perspective and think I understand.

        On a level you are right, of course people may engage in one competitive kind of activity while feeling somewhat opposite kinds of feelings. This is not th point I was making however. I speak about what drives us.

        A motive that drives us to action may be derived from inner love/compassion or by a desire to dominate something, either ourselves or a competitor or a task, as examples. The second driver actually stems from primeval fight-or-flight fear, while the former stems from inner security. These two primary forces within us are mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed.
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          Jan 29 2013: Hi again Joanne,
          I totally respect what you choose to believe in your own life practice, and I do not agree.....so I guess we can agree to disagree:>)

          I understand that you speak about "what drives us". I agree that with our actions/reactions, we are coming from a place of love, or a place of fear.

          Competitiveness can come from a place of love, OR fear. Did you read Don Rogers comment on this thread, in which he told the story of his son, competing in a race, when his opponant fell down and he went back to help his opponant, then continued the race? Those kinds of things happen all the time. You've surely heard about competitors working on projects TOGETHER? It happens all the time.

          "Competitive simply means to "be "inclined, desiring, or suited to compete; depending for effectiveness on the relative concentration of two or more..."

          When we compete, with love in our heart, it is not "opposed" to anything. When we compete, with love in our heart, we are not feeling "opposite kinds of feelings".

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