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Why Are People so Hard to Please


Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.


A Selective Intelligence and Natural Egoism

Inspiration for this post must have started with my amazement over the fact that we are capable of rising some architectural marvels like Dubai or Las Vegas right from a desert, not even to mention the outlandish high technology in electronics and robotics -- but then we seemingly can't use the same intelligence to establish a harmony on this planet.

Don't you ever wonder, how come that those brainy folks like scientists, doctors, university professors, even shrinks, and intellectuals in general, so often have crappy and dissatisfying relationships?

Indeed, why can't intelligence, so well applied in one direction, be applied in all directions? Why is it so selective?

Likewise, why those educated leaders, with often even smarter advisors, "have to" resort to something like a filthy diplomacy, or even a war? These, and other discrepancies made me come up with certain conclusions, and I found its starting thread in our very early childhood.

In my view, there are two fundamental things at play there. One has a lot to do with our basic biological egoism. We don't eat, breathe, sleep, wash ourselves, and so on, to please anyone else but our own needs of biological survival.

Then, if we are a man, it may even stretch over our sexual habits with a neglect of our partner. Just think of all unwanted children being born out of that form of egoism, where man just fathers a baby and then disappears.

When you look at the toys of a toddler, they don't involve others for a play, so they don't suggest something like "sharing". They are strictly meant to please the little self-absorbed individual, while it seems that he also insists on it to be that way.

Namely, try to take it away from him while he is playing, and he will quickly reach to take it back, if not give you a little tantrum.

So, starting with that early age, we are not much in the mood to please anyone by ourselves. While we may not be aware of it, it stays with us into our adulthood, no matter how much we want to mask it with our "altruistic" intentions.

In that sense, we wouldn't help a blind person across the busy street if it didn't give us some pleasure. So, who are we really pleasing there all along?


In a Way -- Still Toddlers

After the age of toddlers comes a quick and forced development of social skills, which basically means a painful collision between what we "want", with what we, all of a sudden, "have to", and "mustn't" do.

And it stinks, as we learn very early in life.

As a matter of fact, it stinks so much that, as we are progressing toward adulthood, we are bound to prey for any little crack in our social makeup to claim the primacy of our somewhat suppressed natural egoism.

Funny as it may appear, we become pretty crafty at presenting that covert egoism as something that's for the "good of others".

"Honey" -- says a wife -- "don't look at the price of that dress. I know, you want your wife to look better than Steve's wife tonight, don't you?"

Or: "Dear fellow-Americans, my vision is the one of America being great again" -- or: "Together we are stronger". You pick the slogan that like more, while the both presidential candidates are thinking something along these lines: "Hey, you suckers, you'd better vote for me, because it's been my dream to become better than any of you".

So, here it starts to be a little more clear why we are incapable of pleasing others -- on a very deep level we are catering to the needs of the No.1, and others, judging by their own example, may sense it, not ending up pleased.

I had a hard time convincing a very competitive person that I was not "displaying my advantages over him" by maintaining my calm -- while he was of a jerk mentality.

There was no way for me to please him, as the nicer and more friendly I was, the more he felt that I was just "impressing his family with being a better person than him".

Competitive sports, as entertaining as they may be, at their base are displaying our need to please ourselves, either with that winning feeling, or with an opportunity to be pissed, which may fit into our usual emotional repertoire just fine.

Now, during a brief pause from writing, I got a little rhyme on my mind pertaining to all this, so here it is.

We Create Each Other

We create each other in our needy minds

either for closeness or for crappy venting

and luckily there are many available kinds

but sometimes we also resort to inventing.

So we may see friends where none exist

or see adversaries who really wish us well

someone who "makes us" happy, or pissed

and why we are doing it -- it is not easy to tell.

Then they may be gone from our gravity field

while quickly replaced to be soon forgotten

separation persisting all until truly sealed

leaving a memory -- pleasant or rotten.

Yes, we create each other for our needs. Ever seen a couple with one looking like a total mismatch to the other? The much better looking one "saw something" in their partner that maybe thousands of others would never do.

Love? Yes. Natural egoism? Yes. Pleasing others to please ourselves? Yes.

And so often we just don't succeed, because others' natural egoism won't match with ours.


Let's Partially Blame It on Negative Feedback Mechanism

Now, it's not only that others in our life, or the whole world for that matter, is not being very successful at pleasing us -- it's also our greatly reduced capacity to be pleased.

That mainly due to something within our adaptive default program, namely, our negative feedback mechanism. In order for our survival strategies to be functional, we got this "antenna" installed telling us at all times "how safe our environment is".

Then crap happens, as due to our mostly negative daily thoughts, that rather primitive mechanism interprets them as "threats being present" -- and with overuse it becomes trigger happy. Resulting with many neutral or innocent people and events being unconsciously interpreted as "bad".

We are not aware of any of that. Actually we are not aware of some over 90% of what's cooking unconsciously. So we don't have a clue why on any given day things get on our nerves, or just keep us in a blah disposition.

Well, not everyone is a spiritually oriented enough to keep an introspective awareness of their inner workings, and with a self-discipline replace that crap with a rosy disposition. The great majority of people simply spend their lives at the end of receiving line, experiencing passively whatever wells up from unconscious mind.

In other words their capacity to be pleased by others is greatly reduced, as their trigger-happy negative feedback mechanism makes them addicted to seek any signs around of things going against their liking.

That same mechanism that would normally warn us about a presence of a bear in a National park where we are camping -- is now warning us that our wife is doing everything possible not to look anymore as attractive as at the first wedding night.

And our friends are boring us with the same stupid routines; and why are we paying for the cable if there is no damn good shows on TV?; and will these Democrats ever understand that America is not willing to accept communism?

Even if none of that is on our daily crappy repertoire of thinking -- somehow we simply think that our needs, wishes, and dreams, are not in anyone's agenda to care about.


We Don't Have to Stay That Way

What makes the whole thing even more mind-boggling is the fact that on the surface all of us are apparently interested in "having it better", whether privately or nationally, but then sabotage every realistic prospect of a satisfactory outcome.

Just look at those armchair political analysts badmouthing this or that politician or policy -- like some prophets theorizing about the calamities to befall us because of this or that in the political arena.

They are so eloquent with those slogans and phrases picked from the media, and one would think that they really "want the best for their country".

What they are not realizing all along is the fact that they are simply exteriorizing their inner conflicts, choosing the political events for venting out those negative energies. And we are talking about energies which will stay there even if, objectively, they politically got it their way.

Namely, it's impossible to please them, at least for as long as they live in that emotional bubble. If, hypothetically, their political champ established a national renaissance, they would still find something to be dissatisfied about in politics.

Which reminds me of that old Sufi story, which goes something like this:

Two Sahara travelers are resting at the end of the day, when one, looking at his camel sleeping, says: "This camel reminds me of food." -- "How so? -- asked his partner. ""Well, when I am hungry everything reminds me of food."

And so it is with a person that is hard to please, as wherever they look there something that carries a seed of dissatisfaction.

But then, not to paint the whole humanity with a broad brush -- yes, there are those, and in some big numbers too, who may need just a little nudge to wake up. They may have preserved that intuitive introspection telling them that "something may be wrong with their own responses", not that the world doesn't care about their precious asses.

At some point such persons may become tired of their own bitching, and that old adage may start positively haunting them:

"Count your blessings, not your curses."

Well, it's all really up to us, not up to the outcomes of current events around us and around the world -- how good we may become at pleasing others by making our good gestures more genuine; and also how easily we can be pleased by them.

Love is divine, especially when our minds and hearts are big enough to accommodate its greatness.

© 2021 Val Karas

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