Human Nature – Good or Bad?

•November 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Are we born the way we are or do our surroundings shape the person we become?

Its the age old nature/nuture debate. John Locke’s Tabula Rasa vs. Evolutionary Psychology. Are we born as a blank slate which is influenced by those people and events around us or do we have certain abilities and behaviours already programmed into our nature which are present from birth?

From my experience as a counsellor, I would have to go with the Mr. Locke. I am constantly presented with clients whose past has defined their present and possible future. The way that we are brought up and what we experience as we come of age, make such a huge effect on the person we are today. We lose pertners so we learn not to trust, we are scared of getting hurt so we keep everyone at a distance, we are worried what people may think if they see the real us so we invent different aspects of self and show only that which is accepted, the list goes on.

This learning has been one of the most influential of my training, because it opens up the possibility of attaching behaviour and nature to certain events and people and we can separate what is our own and what is a result of others.

Working in schools, I have the privilege to see how free young children are, how they are not living by expectations or social norms and how they act out and be what they want, what is currently in their head – they are completely free. Unfortunately, I also get to see the constant moulding by teachers and adults – you must listen to me, you must do as I say, you should.. you ought to… etc. It is really disheartening to see this and I think provides an explanation for how many of us turn out.

I can certainly link most of my behaviours to my upbringing, I am honest because I was told it was the right thing to do, I am quite a safe person who takes little risk because I was told that way you won’t get hurt, I am a ‘nice’ person because that makes life easier and people prefer that, I hold back on saying some things I am thinking because it will hurt peoples feelings, Maybe I am writing this blog because I need something from it which I was missing from childhood.

However, on the other hand, I have worked through many of these things and find that actually a lot of me is naturally nice and is the person I am, I take more and more risks because it keeps life exciting, and I enjoying using this blog to put my thoughts out there for anyone to read!

Carl Rogers, the founder of person-centred counselling, believed that we all have an actualizing tendency. Basically a tendency to become and do good if we are giving the right conditions for these tendencies to grow and be expressed.

The tendency within all living beings to move toward completion or fulfillment of their potential. The source of psychological growth and maturity lies within each of us.

I agree with this but also think the same can be sad for a ‘bad’ actualizing tendency, if we are given the surroundings and experiences which help this bad side grow then we can equally become bad people.

Afterall, what is good and bad? Personally, I would put certain attributes of honesty, kindness, unselfishness, genuineness, caring, compassion under good and lying, cheating, stealing, dishonesty, selfishness, greed under bad. Im sure certain people would have further attributes to add or change.

What is your good and bad and where do you think human nature comes from?

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A tribute to Chris McCandless – Alexander SuperTramp.

•November 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I remember feeling quite haunted the first time I saw this image after watching the wonderful film, Into The Wild. The film itself was very well done and I was quite taken aback by the story. Seeing this image at the end of the movie and realizing it was in fact a true story just heightened the impact of the film for me and began my quest of finding out everything I could about the story of this inspirational man.

For those who have not seen the film Into The Wild or read the book of the same name Chris Mccandless was a very intelligent man who always shined academically. In 1990, He donated $24,000 that was meant for his college fund given to him by his parents, to Oxfam after graduating and began his travels under the name Alexander Supertramp.

This blog post seems apt given the nature of my previous posts about the way the world is and Alexander is someone who acted on these qualms by escaping his life and ‘living off the land.’ Alexander almost drifted through his adventures; hitchhiking a lot of the way and meeting many people in the process. He would stop to work if he needed money for equipment and then move on whenever he felt ready.

It’s hard to describe quite what it is that makes me so found of his adventures and ideals. I guess its the freedom that he so often illustrated, that nothing had to be set in stone and that we can so easily just fall into the repetitiveness of many of life’s ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought tos’ It is so common (myself included) to hear many people complaining about many things but doing very little to change because “that’s just the way it is.”

Alexander is someone who captures the freedom, adventure and self-sufficiency of us all, but unfortunately it is something which is so rarely put into action. I believe that many of the worlds aspects has changed how we are as people for the worst. We live by expected norms and are afraid to take risks and listen to our own voice over those of others.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth

Henry David Thoreau quotes (American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher, 1817-1862)

I think this quote can be adapted not just to communication but our way of life too. If we are true to ourselves and those around us then I think that things would be in such a better place than we currently stand. Unfortunately we have created a society which is run by greed, lies, profit and power and when something is based on these things, we get to a position like we are in today and I think there has to be a climax where all this changes and we have to re-find our true values.

As always, I will take my words as a kick-start to re-tune my values and live by the ways that I think are true but I think it always important to be aware of ourselves and those around us and the relationships we have and create. If we do good to ourselves and those around us then it will not take long for this to become the norm and base our society on much stronger and longer lasting values.

Drunken Gibberish

•November 3, 2009 • 1 Comment

This topic was something that I have always wondered (in a drunken and sober state) and thought it was quite apt with the current developments with the drugs adviser David Nutt.

I’m talking about the acceptance and phenomenal use of alcohol in this country when other, less harmful drugs, are mostly shunned by the very same people who binge every weekend. I would like to make it clear that I do not want to promote any drug use at all but find the inconsistency in peoples views on these matters very strange.

David Nutt seems to be on exactly the right lines by wanting to push through a ranking system which seems to make the dangers much more clearer:

a ranking system is needed that compares the harm of all substances, whether legal or illegal, which would put alcohol fifth, behind only the likes of heroin and cocaine.Tobacco would be ninth while cannabis, LSD and ecstasy would be ranked 11, 14 and 18 respectively.

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/6455260/Alcohol-and-tobacco-more-harmful-than-ecstasy-and-cannabis-says-chief-Government-adviser.html)

My main topic here is really using alcohol as an example to show how the social acceptable values and sheep-like qualities of people is continually accepted. For me this strong following seems to make things appear “right” and the minority are left to re-question their values in wondering how so many people can be wrong?

As with my previous blog posts, I do not wish to count myself out of this. Whilst I often talk about other peoples values I most certainly include myself in this and more often than not my writings will be an outward wondering of why exactly I follow the trends of the things I criticize also. I certainly wouldn’t like to paint a false image of being a sober angel. I have had many a night of forgetting who I am and losing myself to alcohol and cannabis but this is exactly what kick started my wondering of why something so damaging and “wrong” is a huge culture and I cant but feel like the only answer is majority rules!

I talk from experience here but I have certainly seen similar groups where the same rules apply. I have often gone out with my friends to drink and get drunk and this has most certainly been accepted, even celebrated but if I were to suggest we were all to go and get some ecstasy or LSD I know that this would be shunned or frowned upon, in fact I would certainly do the same if my friends were to suggest it. But why is this when according to scientific research these drugs are less dangerous than alcohol.

As a society we grow up seeing the acceptance of alcohol and see our parents and relatives drinking it, we see people waiting for the weekend so they can let their hair down with the aid of alcohol and we see a multi-million pound industry which is built on it all. It seems a lot easier, as highlighted by this topic, to go with the flow, follow what we are shown and fit in. I know the tremendous struggle of having a view in the minority and trying to defend it when many of those around you disagree. Some things are just embedded in our society it is difficult to challenge them and we begin to think it is normal and even expected of us. Is this what our country has come to:

So I guess maybe this is a calling to myself and maybe to others to stand by what is right and live our lives only by what we feel is true for ourselves and also to respect what others believe and follow. If we don’t, then we begin to get in situations like we are today where the majority leads our way and we just blindly follow as it is easier and more acceptable than to stand up and challenge these values.

I think I am slowly realizing that actually I am writing this blog to myself, to guide and learn from; after all

It is nearly always true that what annoys us about others is what annoys us about ourselves.

I will certainly continue with these writings in the hope of it being of some use to others as well. I enjoy releasing my thoughts in this way and now it is there for both myself and others to read. As always, I would enjoy debate on the topics I write so please feel free to leave comments. Thank you again for reading.

HEY, LOOK AT ME!!

•November 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I’m still a little unsure on the exact purpose of my blog but I think it was all kick started by a desire to share my thoughts and rants with others and also see what I get back as a result of this.

CelebrityCulture

I think that one of the first subjects that I had a desire to share and try and understand was the appeal of facebook and more importantly the status update craze. I am myself a member of facebook and have used the status updates too to share news and give a little snippet on my opinion on things. Does anyone care, im not quite sure. I think my friends were glad to hear pieces of information that I had posted and it certainly gives an easier way to let people know things but I believe the line is drawn when people tell me they are eating their tea, that they have a bad hangover or even their sexual adventures of previous nights. (really…)

I do not want to count myself out of this craze as some may say that a blog is an even bigger space to write my ‘status update.’ I would certainly like to think that what I write may be of some more use than the information that colin has decided on Chicken Tikka for tea, but really I could be added to the conveyor belt of this fashion which of course has really developed into Twitter – a site exclusively dedicated to the equivalent of status updates of facebook.

So what is it that is the appeal of this. Something which I cant help thinking is linked to the whole celebrity culture which seems to be the center point of our society today. Also something which I cant help feeling is linked to the gradual decline of peoples morals, values and general outlook on life.

In Psychology Today, writer Carlin Flora suggests that America’s fascination with celebrity is a symptom of a larger cultural obsession with the three A’s – affluence, attractiveness and achievement. Celebrities seem to embody all of these.

Affluence, attractiveness and achievement are understandably desirable, and certainly not inherently harmful, but fixation on these can sometimes divert individuals, especially young people, from other values, such as community, charity and commitment.

Flora quotes psychologist James Houran, who says that in a secular society the “need for ritualized worship can be displaced onto celebrities.”

“Nonreligious people tend to be more interested in celebrity culture,” Houran says. “For them, celebrity fills some of the same roles the church fills for believers, like the desire to fit into a community of people with shared values.” – (The Kansas City Star, Mo. – March 14, 2006)

I am inclined to agree with the majority of this but would also like to add affirmation and attention to this list. I think it is the feeling of celebrity which these things offer, our own little spot light, attention and importance. Maybe in a way it is our own podium which the celebrities have on a grander scale which we also seek. I would again like to not exclude myself from this. I don’t want to seem like I am tarnishing all others with this brush and leaving myself because here I am writing something to be read by others, to be valued, to be recognized.

I think the most frustrating thing and main desire behind this post is the sadness in seeing the way our society is going. I hate to sound like a lil’ hippy but I think it cant be helped here. At the moment we live in a world where popstars make the front pages ahead of good role models, x-factor receives millions more viewers than the news and paris hilton is well, even somebody. I think there is a huge imbalance in a world where those who work ridiculous hours to help, care and comfort others are paid just enough to live while those who spend there life doing a hobby or little else are millionaires.

Having said all this I have one quote ringing in my ears:

“YOU MUST BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD” — Mahatma Gandhi

So before I sign off (and advertise this on my facebook status ;)), I shall do my best to follow these wise words, and I hope that it has been some food for thought, in whatever way that may be. As always I would love to create debate on the topics I post so please feel free to comment and leave links to blogs that may be of use to myself and those that end up here. Thank you.

Hello world!

•October 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So after trying the tens of title names for my blog, I finally find one that works and is available. I hope to use this space to share my thoughts on the world and people around us and hope to get some sort of discussion going. I look forward to reading all the other blogs on this site and hearing from others. Lets get going…