What If Being Mean Doesn't Exist?

nature versus nurture blog post

What if people were just a product of their environment and genetics?

This is something that interests me as I realized that I look at people differently than others. When I look at someone acting in their behavior, I can get an idea of what they are feeling. Imagining what their emotion might feel like would allow us to reverse engineer what they have experienced. Now we shouldn't assume what their reality is or especially their past, but it does serve as a marker for questions, and all these little markers we can create in our heads can be seen as data points that start to build a bigger picture. 

big picture

The Bigger Picture

With this bigger picture of someone, we can begin to empathize with them easier. With this empathy, we can better react to their emotions on a more appropriate plane of emotions that they can understand and relate to. This is what I have noticed.

  • Anger: When someone is experiencing anger, they must be feeling high levels of anxiety and frustration with a feeling of being trapped and wanting to attack. This emotion is buried deep within our brain as a survival tactic.
  • Sadness: When we are experiencing sadness they might be experiencing anxiety, but with a tinge of hopelessness. This causes them to freeze and eventually shut down. Enough of this can create a pattern of sadness that builds the structure of depression.
  • Scared: This can be seen as a precursor to anger. When we are scared our amygdala is being activated in a manner that is telling us to run away. This can be expressed in manners such as leaving a conversation awkwardly, social anxiety or perhaps crying. These are characteristics of someone who feels like they can't be relinquished of an impending doom or fate.



Looking inside our emotions

These emotions can be caused by childhood trauma that accounts for a large amount of the discrepancies between people. How people have been raised dictates a large portion of how their brain developed. So maybe there is no such thing as being mean per se, or maybe rather no such thing as a mean person as no one is really born mean, they are simply reacting to how their genetics and environment enforced them to behave. This behavior allowed them to survive and cope the best way they could. Someone who relies more on cognitive control and thinking might have more practice in the frontal cortex region of their brain, however, someone with more experience with the fear response will act in accordance with the fear-based repository of emotions in the brain.

what to do with this info

What My Point Is:

My point is that if we can analyze why someone might be experiencing the emotions that are causing their behavior, we can remove ourselves from the situation more easily. This allows us to become less reactionary in our responses and more methodical. We can instead allow ourselves to think before we act. This is useful in many applications and can guide us farther in our professional careers and especially our personal relationships. See maybe we're all just trying to do our best, and life kind of...gets in the way sometimes. Maybe if we understood each other a little bit better each day, the world would be a better place? All we have to do is continue to think differently.


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