Sunday, January 14, 2018

Negative Qualities And Positive Potentials

Most innate qualities have capacities for both positive and negative outcomes. There are many times when people see something as a bad quality that can in fact be quite a good one.

For example, many people think that it's wrong to be obsessive. However there are many tasks that require obsessive focus, and a person capable of obsessive focus can in many cases accomplish a lot. He will focus on the task and keep doing it until it is complete. A person like that may end up doing valuable and meaningful things, and anyone involved in things such as research understands just how valuable this quality can be.

Then many people think that it's wrong to be “manipulative.” In business and politics it is not called being manipulative. It is called strategy. The same person who would be seen badly for such qualities as a child or a teenager can become excellent at these and other valuable tasks.

Or people think that it's wrong to have an intense temperament. Once again, there are many tasks where that is a benefit. If you are a priest, then being able to preach passionately is a virtue. If you are a teacher or a professor, being passionate in what you do is a virtue. If you are involved in a cause or in politics, such a thing helps a lot as well.

It is also often seen as wrong to be nitpicking or too cautious. In some situations – such as relationships – being nitpicking is in fact a disaster. However if you are an engineer, you better be nitpicking and cautious. You need to anticipate anything that can possibly go wrong. If you are an engineer and you are not nitpicking, you will design equipment that does not work.

Or it can be thought bad to be sensitive. However in many professions you should be sensitive. If you are a doctor or a counselor, you need to be sensitive. You need to be attentive to other people's needs. Sensitivity goes a long way in these pursuits and any number of others.

Probably the quality that gets most maligned is that of thinking differently from other people around you. This will get you accused of being crazy or worse. However most of what we have started as an original thought; and original thoughts happen in minds that think in original ways. The people who think in original ways contribute the most to the civilization, and it is completely wrong to attack them for being what they are.

One of the worst claims I've heard is that you have to be positive before you can have anything to offer or that negative thinking is at the root of the world's problems. That is completely wrong. There are problems that need to be solved. They are not solved through positive thinking; they are solved through real thought and real action. Positive thinking will not stop rainforest deforestation. Positive thinking will not solve world hunger. For a problem to be solved it first has to be acknowledged. If you are preventing problems from being acknowledged – under the claim that it is “negative” or anything of the sort – then you are preventing problems from being solved. And this causes far more problems than it solves. We face major problems. They require our attention. They will not be solved through positive thinking. They need to be seen for what they are, and they need to be effectively addressed.

And of course we have all sorts of thought against having “gumption” and what not. Once again, there are many situations in which such a thing is in order. Sometimes you need to take charge. Sometimes you need to blow your horn. Sometimes you need to think bold and act bold. This kind of thinking deters important action. Which means that it again causes more problems than it solves.

What else. Disobedience to authority. I ask this, How did America start? It did not start by people following the monarchic authority of the time. It started by people fighting for freedom. Not all authority is wrong, but claiming that disobedience to authority – any authority – makes you a sociopath or a narcissist is completely wrong. This would pathologize what made the current state of affairs possible; which means that people who claim such a thing are complete hypocrites.

Or – well. Being “dangerous.” My response to these kinds of claims is that I hope to be dangerous to people who think in these ways; I hope that more people be dangerous to people who think in these ways. What we have here is fascism. Anyone capable of making any kind of a difference is capable of making a wrong kind of a difference. That would make him dangerous. However he is also capable of making a right kind of a difference; and the world, once again, owes vastly to people who do such a thing.

Then there's this nonsense about self-esteem. Apparently you can't be a good person unless you have high self-esteem. This is completely wrong. I make the case instead that there is a negative, not positive, correlation between self-esteem and personal goodness. If you have higher standards for yourself then you will find it harder to meet these standards than if you have lower standards for yourself. The person with lower standards will have higher self-esteem; the person with higher standards will be a better person.

There are of course more – many more. Once again, the same propensities that can lead to negative outcomes can also lead to positive outcomes when rightfully directed. And it is toward doing just this that psychological thought must direct itself.


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