I’m Averse To People! (A Stoic perspective)

The dynamics of desire and aversion lie at the basis of Stoic thought in regards to how we relate to the world. Aversion means a strong dislike and disinclination
towards something or someone. Even though this might seem harmless; it can
cause a lot of trouble. In this video I want to share Stoic views
on aversion and how to deal with it. I recently got a question from Frank Bask,
asking me: Can you make a video about aversion? More specifically, aversion to a certain person
or group of people, I’ve been struggling with that for the past couple of weeks. End quote. Well, to understand aversion we have to understand
its polar opposite as well, which is desire. Because desire is a form of aversion and aversion
is a form of desire. I think I’m throwing a bit of Taoism in
there by saying that one opposite cannot exist without the other and that both turn around
a spindle. Let’s say that we desire a million dollars. And I mean that we really crave for it. The desire automatically contains the aversion
to not having a million dollars, which we could translate into the aversion to being
poor. By taking this position we make our future
happiness conditional. If we’re able to obtain a million dollars
we’re happy. But if we fail, we’re miserable. This is a quote by Epictetus about this mechanism: “Remember that following desire promises
the attainment of that of which you are desirous; and aversion promises the avoiding that to
which you are averse. However, he who fails to obtain the object
of his desire is disappointed, and he who incurs the object of his aversion wretched.” End quote. Does this mean that we should abolish desire
and aversion? No, that’s too simplistic. The Stoics of old recognized that human nature has a tendency to desire things that are good for us. They called this phenomenon oikeiosis. Things that are good for us but not necessarily
required for reaching a state of eudaimonia are known as preferred indifferents. Examples of these are: wealth, health and
a good reputation. The opposite are dispreferred indifferents. Examples of these are: death, poverty and
sickness. So, how does this boil down to the aversion
towards a person or a group of people? Being averse to a serial killer is healthy, because incurring a serial killer probably isn’t good for your health. And it would also be wise to be averse to
a thief, savage and any other person that will do us harm. Since human nature wants us to live, it makes
sense that we naturally avoid the people that pose a threat. So, we might want to ask ourselves the following
questions: are our estimations about the people we’re averse to truly correct? Do the people we’re averse to truly pose
a threat? Many fears are irrational. As Seneca wrote to his friend Lucilius: “There are more things, Lucilius, likely
to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in
reality.” End quote. According to the Stoics, our capacity for
rational thinking is what sets us apart from animals. This means that fears, even though they might
be ingrained in the primitive part of our nature, can be overridden by rational thoughts. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a way to replace
irrational thoughts by rational thinking, and this form of therapy happens to have roots
in Stoicism. Let’s say you’re averse to a group of
people because of prejudices based on news coverage in regards to that group. We have a tendency to think that all members
of that group are like that, which probably isn’t true. Moreover, we only know this information for
sure if we know every single person of that group. Similarly, this applies to a single person
we might be averse to. We might have heard some rumors and formed
an image in our heads about this person that does not correspond with reality. “Accordingly, some things torment us more
than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought
not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining,
or anticipating, sorrow.” End quote. The trick is to challenge the thoughts we
have about these people that are irrational and replace them with thoughts that are rational. Instead of thinking; those people are bad
and I should avoid them, you could think; I notice I’m averse to these people for
reason x and y. Perhaps I should get to know them better and
experience for myself if my aversion is justified. From the perspective of virtue we could ask:
is it justified to be averse to a certain group? Are my thoughts about this group correct? Chances are that the honest answer to these
questions is no. And that by aversion based on irrationality,
we only cause harm to ourselves and, potentially, to our surroundings. But what if the answer is yes? Okay, picture this. Do you really want to give the object of your
aversion the power over your happiness? The problem with aversion (that goes together
with feelings like hate, disgust, fear) is that – in most cases – you predominantly hurt
yourself. Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting
for the other person to die. Curbing aversion helps us to not waste our
time and energy on fear and hate towards irrationally perceived evils. Thus, it’s a good idea to approach the mechanism
of desire and aversion with knowledge of good and evil, virtue and vice and preferred and
dispreferred indifferents. So, I’d say that if you’re certain that
a group or person is up to no good I would loosen up the aversion by developing a healthy
detachment from these people. This doesn’t mean that you should be a pushover. One of the Stoic virtues is justice. So if it’s justified to defend yourself
against oppressors, I don’t think that the Stoics would disagree. It’s possible to address certain problems
without being attached to them, like removing an overboiling pan from the gas burner without
being upset. In this case, you solve a problem while keeping
your cool, which sounds like win-win situation to me. Or, perhaps even better, you could try to
be compassionate which is often possible by mutual understanding. As Martin Luther King jr. once said: “I
choose love because hate is too big a burden to bear.” Thank you for watching.

61 Replies to “I’m Averse To People! (A Stoic perspective)”

  1. I am all about virtue, because that's how you save yourself from EGO.
    My condition is that I get my space to recuperate and recharge the energy.
    One becomes irritated when we are up in each others faces all the time (maybe due to work).

  2. You that overly cliche saying "I really needed to hear this right now?" Well it's true for me. Recently I've been trying to get back into the dating scene, and being someone that's averse to small talk it makes it rather difficult. Maybe the problem lies more with the fact that I most likely have little in common with some of these people, but answering pointless text messages about conversations that go absolutely nowhere is just so……..UGH!!!!! This comment doesn't really have much to do with Stoicism per se, but I figured I'd share it regardless.

  3. I'm averse to complainers. I'm averse to people who have the power to do something positive but sit around talking about how the government should do something.

  4. I like the idea of removing myself from people who I don’t enjoy being around. …rather than arguing with them or hoping they will start behaving in a different way. Took 52 years for me to figure this out.

  5. ok,,,
    if what we have adversity of,,, is what we refuse to allow in ourself
    as we see it in others we reject
    What we Reject in us…
    if That is so
    This must be also so.
    when we seek Truth in just us we seek the fallacy to disabuse if we see Harm on us..
    When we seek others intent on lies or Truth in just all of us equally we find Remedy
    of Both Machination of a Fallacy within caused abuse
    and The abuse caused within ourself.
    if we judge others as ourself
    we must disabuse their fallacy with no such abuse to harm by Disabusing our own fallacy,
    Do Unto others is law..
    we do it unto ourself.
    are we Not all children of will to be by creation itself
    From Dirt or well Nothing at all.
    only to see our own Reflection in our own Mirror
    in our Mind.
    Ergot Ego sum

  6. It's a wonder any of us get along…Some guru compared us to ice cubes bumping together w/ all our sharp edges. I try to enjoy most people. Some folks r bitter & nasty. I will embrace a healthy aversion to them w/out guilt. As usual, TY, Mein Einzelganger!

  7. How can we Stand to Be with others or Desire such Close Proximity
    to allow caused effect to inspire us to Actus from Verbanda.
    of either ill intent or living Healing…
    if we do not face our own Demons.
    casting aspersion upon Others for our very same Crime against ourself.
    Talk with me…
    not at me or our of ordo my asssssssss
    When you are out of yo own ordo
    Point yo Finger at yo selfi Avatar…
    i point mine at me.
    Disbuse yoself
    i will Not allow others to Abuse me.
    or Blame Me for Their own Crime against Humanity
    you will Never forgive yo self when you die and wake up to know
    Karma was our willful choice to Help or Harm others.
    we kicked our own ASsssssssssssss.
    nice job Guardian
    are we No longer our Brothers Keeper sir.
    kiss yo yo own ass sycophant's
    Before i spin yo Head round asssbackwards 3 Times Yo cocka does Crow

  8. I'm averse to all the qualities that my extended family pride themselves in having…
    Arrogance. Stupidity. Judgemental. Shallow. Narrow – minded. Piety. Lucky I don't have to see them at all except at funerals. Whew!!

  9. did i not say Do Unto Others is Law
    it is our ordo from chao
    do yo Job Mr.
    yo ass will Never forgive yo self.
    peace be with you in
    as a Man and a woman in Love
    Dancing Beneath our Stars Up Above and Below
    under our Watchful Loving Eye.
    of our living Father Creator of all Things Great and small
    Shine Brightly my Lil Star dust.
    Guardians of The Sacred Fire of Rahhhhhh a ha h a ha ha aaaaaaa Hooty hoot to tot toot toot.
    As Darkness is The light.

  10. Thought i Tole all you lil Flyin assss Monkeys one Time
    Dare not i find yo ass sleeping as if Dead at yo Post
    if find yo ass
    Standing Between my Pillars of Boazzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    only to be found Jakon off with my Masons Bastard child of Sophia
    you will get yo ass back to work on my Temple Demon.
    i am Alpha & Omega Oroboros.
    a faction of 1
    i Upped my Ethical Standard to Creators moral Just us
    up yours.
    Kabuki gouy.
    eat Dirt not my loving Child
    Eucharist Bastard Reptile Draco
    i am
    Ergot ego sum.

  11. I remember being a kid and being dared to walk into the hood at night.

    I must have seemed like the biggest balled white boy to go, Idgaf, watch me come out with some weed. XD

  12. Wanna Know yo Avatar,,, love yo Enemy it is you.
    that Reflection we see in Others is ours
    you own it.. disabuse yo self.
    don't need to abuse others now do we…
    i am in ordo.. and out of ordo so well see how it goes…
    first yo money Then yo close i guessss.
    Ha ha ha hh ah a haha h aaaaaa
    rip yo own mask off Draco.

  13. i am He as He is He as You are
    as we are all Together
    why fall apart individually.
    we are already one.
    unless we find some Illusion of fallacy we can not Define so well or well.
    at all.

  14. i Love you… i Hate what i must do to Heal you…
    Face yo Demon in yo own Living Hell
    Till you can Forgive yo self.
    you condemned yo self
    do what you must do.
    to yourself.
    find Peace

  15. As I am getting older I'm more and more avoiding types o people who I don't find to bring me joy when interacting with them, and yes I group people in groups according to my experience, so while there might be something positive in someone who I grouped into group which I'm to avoid, I don't feel need to spend my energy to find it out, nor do I honestly care, I have more than enough people with who I can talk congregate.
    When I was younger I was extremely accommodating toward other people, I did think I should give everyone a chance, to learn about them and to accept them as they are even though it brings me only discomfort to interact with them, but I believe now that was very bad and naive approach, who I disliked at first, but gave chance, especially this goes for friend groups in high school, university and shot time afterward, it proved that they really are bad people.
    In the end, my opinion about people in general is that there are so many people who I dislike in range of reasons being annoying, too stupid, poorly behaved, mean, to frustrated and immature, while there are people who I meet throu life who are always good to interact with, so I stick with them.

  16. I've known at least three people with the super power of, "I can get along with anyone." I don't have that power. Ignorance annoys me and self inflicted ignorance (stupidity) repulses me. That's why I always live in a city of at least a million people. There are plenty for me to choose from and I can find smart, sane people to be my friends and associates.

  17. I avoid those who identify as professionals. I think they are Classist and only want to do things to non professionals while keeping us marginalized. I would get to know them but they are not very friendly. I find conservative red necks to be much nicer people. I just don't agree with their politics.

  18. What if you're averse to someone without even knowing them properly and don't want to know them but still don't want to be aversive towards them because that takes away a lot of your energy and triggers overthinking?

  19. I find that it's other people who seem to have an aversion issue with me when they observe how I am indifferent with their dramas and "notice me attitude". Peace of mind at the cost of charisma, perhaps?

  20. This is no good. To dislike people is to be adverse to your own humanity. Love people and you will understand yourself and others.

  21. Got to be honest I used to hate illegal immigrants. Then I got to high school I got to know a couple. They were normal people with normal families. I realized I didn't hate them. They should have come here legally because itnot doing so puts other people's lives(jobs families futures ect) in Jeopardy. Some who I may even care about and know personally. But instead of hating the illegal immigrants I pushed past that to see I hated the act they committed not them. This is why I support the idea that The Only Thing Worth Hating in this world is violence itself. While simply having a reasonable aversion to things that cause it.

  22. What are your thoughts on people with adversion to responsibility and accountability for their actions. Those who desire everything from everyone yet offer nothing in return. Those who point the blame so readily on others as an outward projection of the rejection of responsibility.

    They tend to be ones who speak so often they cant open their mind to differences.

    Your Thoughts?

  23. Thank you Einzelganger. Another very well done video. I particularly appreciate how you explain the practical use of indifference, preferred or otherwise. Thanks again.

  24. The quality of background scenes and cuts are much better than in the old vids, the storytelling feels smoother this way.

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