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Extreme Ideals And Hidden Hate

It’s important to think about how ideal behavior can actually become hateful behavior. In my post two weeks about about the four ideals, I mentioned courage and strength, discipline and commitment, humility and patience as well as care and wisdom. Even though these seem like ideal behavior, some of them can become destructive in their extreme forms. In my post last week, I went over hate as rejection and, in more extreme cases, violence. It is through hate that ideal behavior can become destructive, because we convince ourselves we are just doing what we’ve always done and been true to our ideals.

Courage Or Bullying?

Courage and strength come from our ability to face up to difficult situations and push forward anyway. This can include facing physical risk or difficulty through adventure into the unknown. We might be nervous about skydiving or surfing or some other activity where we could end up injured or even killed. We could be nervous about traveling alone to a foreign place or having to make a speech for the first time. It is normal to be afraid. However, it helps to overcome these fears and experience new things in life. It can give us new perspective and perhaps open other doors once we gain that courage or strength. Sometimes, it can be facing social risk when we challenge someone else’s opinion or have to set a boundary when someone behaves disrespectfully or dangerously. We may lose friends or make ourselves look idiotic. However, we may sometimes need to face up to these people and challenge them.

Courage and strength can be useful, but they can turn into bullying or manipulating others when we simply can’t accept limits, particularly social limits. We may get into the habit of pushing back just for the sake of it. It no longer has intentional purpose beyond pushing back and makes us feel powerful. It becomes a habit and one that is rooted in the subtle hate of never wanting to feel controlled or limited. We could even put ourselves in danger by ignoring some limits and failing to pay attention to the signs that we may not be able to overcome the situation regardless of our courage or strength.

Discipline Or Rigidity?

Discipline and commitment allows us to take on challenges with dedication and focus. This allows us to master and excel in a given practice. It can be its own kind of courage or strength to focus so strongly on something that we face any and every challenge that comes with it. We hone our skills and develop our techniques. Sometimes, we develop solutions that later we realize aren’t as useful as we thought they were. We reassess our situation and come up with new techniques to more fully and appropriate address the problems at hand. We may have a job that we really appreciate, and at first, we simply follow what other people tell us to do. Then, as we meet people and face new problems where we have no ready answers, we experiment and find ways to handle each situation. We do this repeatedly in our job and slowly, we gain the experience that helps us understand our problems in a new way. They aren’t just tasks. They come from some root sources that we now envision whenever we see problems in front of us. We become comfortable with the problems, because now we know what to expect, regardless of some of the distracting details that more inexperienced people might take as important.

Discipline and commitment can be useful, but they can turn into rigidity and judgmentalism if we don’t remember how we got to where we are as well as why. All too often, we forget how it is we learned new skills or gained valuable experience. We forget what it was like to struggle with the problems we had before and how to empathize with others when they face those same problems with less experience. We might immediately scoff at their ignorance and think these people are stupid. We may reject them, keep them at arm’s length or worse, we may believe they are the problem and that we should keep them away. It’s important that we remember that everyone has to learn and everyone has different motives and abilities around learning. We may have to work with people who experience life differently enough that we may have to make an effort to help them connect with how we experience life. It adds a new layer to our commitment when we understand where they are and how far along they intend to come.

Humility Or Self-hate?

Humility and patience allow us to work with other people and allow for differences in how we work together and live our lives. When we understand that we are limited and biased as much as anyone else, we then tend to notice the same in others and acknowledge the similarity, even if the details of our biases are different. We can be open to who other people are while we are around them. We stay focused on goals and tasks to make sure things get done or that people grow, but we allow for different approaches and different speeds at which people arrive at the destination.

On the other hand, some people who may seem humble are really repressed and perhaps hold a degree of what I would call self-hate. Self-hate means that a person holds a part of themself back in order to not risk some perceived consequence. It may be that they experienced something traumatic, so they refuse to experience that same thing again. However, there is still a part of themself that prods to get out. If the inner prodding were something someone could just let go, then it would just be a momentary mood or some other whim. However, when something keeps nagging inside us to be let out, holding it back can be harmful to ourselves. It’s important that we allow ourselves to be ourselves. Being humble sometimes means accepting that occasionally, being ourselves can be awkward or challenging. However, humility doesn’t mean repressing ourselves. It means accepting that we have limits to how we can be ourselves while making space to be ourselves.

Care Is The Anti-hate

Care and wisdom are the very opposite of hate. If you care about something, you don’t reject it or push it out of your life. You make space for it in your life somewhere. You may incorporate some wisdom and keep something you care about in your life but at a measured distance knowing that is where it is best. However, you engage it and do what you can to support it.

If you want to know how well you manage hate inside you, think about how much care and wisdom you use. Are you able to keep an open mind and see things for what they are now as much as what they have been in the past? Are you able to determine the signs of sincerity when someone is ready to do things differently? Can you recognize the difference between inability and unwillingness? Most importantly, can you accept the realities of life yourself, the things that you cannot change alone (or perhaps at all) and empathize with others who need to accept the same things? This is what care and wisdom are about. They are the very antidote to hate.