On the Darker Side of Life

On the Darker Side of Life

I have thinking quite a bit lately about the issue of relationships.

The thing that concerns me is the level of aggression that comes into our relationships. Not only aggression, or at least not only patently aggressive behaviour, but all the various subtle manifestations of this: social one-up-man-ship, character assassination, power struggles and so on.

A particularly vivid example of this was pointed out to me a few months ago. When anyone in a social gathering tells a story, how shortly afterwards (sometimes not even afterwards but during) another teller will jump in with a ‘better’ story.

Since I’ve become aware of this it amazes me how this happens virtually without fail- and to my utter dismay I am very often the one doing it.

Generally it’s as if there a certain amount of social light and love available- we all crave it and are willing to step on each other to get it. It’s really not a pretty sight.

I have recently started facilitating a Jungian study group with about 20 students. Maybe it’s because as the facilitator I somehow hold a different perspective but I am amazed at the amount of power play that goes on. What is spoken is almost merely symptomatic of a deeper more primal drive which is the drive for dominance, or for love depending how you look at it.

A philosopher friend of mine, Cary Winograd, once said to me any question in a class is at bottom just a cry for love and attention. That may seem simplistic and I don’t think it is true in every situation, but it has given me pause for consideration when asking questions in workshops or classes that I attended. And honestly I ask a lot fewer questions than I used to.

This overt Darwinian behaviour is ubiquitously evident in society.

I am no expert on Schopenhauer but this kind of thing makes me sympathetic to what he says- that the world is blind will manifest. So much of what I see around me is the instinctive drives in action Eros (sex/ procreation), Thanatos (destruction) and the Will to Power.

Is there any way out of this to a more humane relatedness?

Well personally I don’t care for organised religion, but it seems as though this is possibly the only alternative for man en masse. Left to his own devices he is a nasty piece of work. The problem is, as any depth psychologist would rush to point out, that the drives operate anyway, just more insidiously for their disguise.
So I don’t know what the answer is, but I am going to share some thoughts on how to possibly mitigate this overtly instinctive and unconscious behaviour.

1. Create space- try and get your own egotism out of the way when relating to other people.

2. Realise that the level of respect and love you show others is probably very close to what you can show yourself. Meaning you can perceive other people as mirrors of aspects of yourself and in understanding this realise that the level of love you give them is a reflection of the love you have for yourself.

3. (Following number 2) learn to love yourself- if you can truly learn to love yourself, loving others becomes much easier.

4. (Paradoxically with number 2) Stop believing that fundamentally other people are the same as you and try and become aware of their differences from you rather than their similarities. Then see if you can accommodate these differences.

5. Avoid violence (psychic/physical) at all costs, unless it is to protect yourself and then use the minimum force necessary.

6. Behave with a degree of conscious respect, love and humanity in your relationships.

7. Treat yourself with conscious respect, love and humanity- you are not only your brother’s keeper, but you are your own keeper as well.

8. Avoid judgment.

9. Practice humility.

10. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

11. Making winning only your second priority, make your first priority relatedness.

12. Question your own motives.

I suppose I could sum these all up by simply saying stop being so insecure and having to constantly affirm yourself at others expense. Try and meet other human beings and talk to them instead of feeling obliged to utilise them ‘ who knows you might learn something. (Granted it’s unlikely seeing as you know everything already, but just try it and see what happens )

With love,


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  • Hulya Tasoren Reply

    While I do agree with the points you make, I am concerned abut the beginning of this posting… I question two points:

    1. one-up-man-ship,
    2. possibly all questions asked in a class is “just a cry for love and attention”.

    This is probably an issue for me, since I have a tendency to speak up, and at times I may get negative responses, in body language or someone saying things about me after the fact. I am thinking, a legitimate reason for verbally participating in either situation is to shed light in an area of concern, which everyone would be sharing at that moment. I find others’ participation in either situation enriching for me and the group, as far as furthering group knowledge goes, which I think is the reason we gather together in a class and even at a party. As a result, I would think my contribution would be valuable too. I have tried approaching it in different ways to see how it would go. In a class or a meeting, I have held back from saying anything, even when the instructor or a lead posed questions. I didn’t want to be the one holding someone else back if that person wanted to speak. And, there were many gatherings that turned out dull where no-one responded. I have found that if I make a statement or ask a question at the start, often a lively discussion ensues, people seem to have permission to open up sort of. I have had some instructors say in general, “I wish you were in all my classes”. We have all been in many dull meetings, classes and parties… we know how that goes.
    Based on what you write, we can say that in these gatherings people are, first of all, looking for belonging, and love and admiration of the group… if so, even these should not be based on false premises. I have seen people share something of no value, and others responding well though it is obvious they are just being nice. That to me is embarrassing for both sides.

    Having said all this, I do like the part in “Is there any way out of this to a more humane relatedness?” I believe the list of self check points are insightful and will lead to more genuine interactions. Thank you for those, I know I will use them in the future.


    July 5, 2017 at 2:16 am

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