And Why My Misanthropy Was Flawed
“The one thing in me more powerful than a general misanthropy is an inescapable compassion for individuals.”
I used to dislike most people. I wouldn’t say it was flat-out hatred for everyone, but it also wasn’t love. There were a few people who would fall on the hate side of the scale and some who would fall on the love side. I think this is normal.
But I used to have a general dislike for all of society.
I’ve never thought about why until now. I assumed I’ve felt this way because of my experiences with others up to this point in my life. I’ve dealt with the worst of society in my career. But if I look deeper into my feelings, they do not justify my reasons.
There is a term for someone like me. Someone who has a general hatred, distrust or contempt for the human species or human nature. The term is a misanthrope.
Misanthropy is not being a pessimist or cynic. It focuses on humans, and the general dislike of others is not something inherent in a person’s character. It is learned through a person’s experiences, perceptions, and interactions with others.
These experiences shape our thoughts and attitudes. Most of these interactions and perceptions are negative. The more we experience these negative interactions, the more we believe all mankind is bad. I realize this thinking is flawed, and I now understand why I was a misanthrope for many years.
I also understand why I no longer have this mindset.
Assuming Makes an Ass out of U and Me
The first reason I disliked people is that I assumed what other people were like. I made assumptions about others before I even met or interacted with them. I assumed they were bad because they acted a certain way or had values other than my own.
When I assume I know what other people are like, I end up believing I know the truth. The problem with this type of thinking is I have no idea what they are like. I have no justification for believing these people are bad. It is flawed thinking on my part to make assumptions about others.
Another reason I have found which contributed to my misanthropy is the expectations I placed on others. I expected others to act and think like I did and felt they should conform to my ideas. If they didn’t, then I ended up disliking them. I placed my values and ideas of how they should be on to them even though I knew they were not the same as me.
I didn’t give others the benefit of the doubt and didn’t take the time to understand why they were different from me. And I didn’t take the time to ask questions about why they acted the way they did.
I sought to change others toward my way of thinking instead of seeking to understand their way of thinking.
A Symptom of Depression and Anxiety
“Knowledge subverts love: in proportion as we penetrate our secrets, we come to loathe our kind, precisely because they resemble us.”
-Emil M. Cioran
Part of why I disliked people can be attributed to the depression I experienced. During my depression, the negative was always at the forefront of my thinking. I would seek out and focus on the negative. It was difficult to look at things in a positive light. The negative experiences with other people far outweighed the positive interactions.
This is a symptom of depression. Focusing on the negative instead of the positive is common in people with depression.
I also experienced severe anxiety during my depression. Anxiety clouded my thoughts about everything. It made me assume the worst about people and society. It made me not want to interact with others because I focused on the negative experiences I had in the past.
The anxiety took over and made me believe every interaction would be negative.
Dislike of Myself
The last reason I’ve found why I disliked people is that I used to dislike myself. I projected my dislike for myself on to other people. And I saw things wrong with others which I wanted to correct in myself. I observed things in others which I was jealous of and wished I could be. I judged.
I projected my shortcomings on to others.
It’s easier to think other people are wrong or flawed than to admit that I am. It’s easier to make other people a scapegoat than to face the truth. I disliked people because of my own insecurities.
I used to dislike people for a lot of reasons. But, I based these reasons on flawed thinking.
I based them on my own shortcomings and not based on logic and reasoning. There are some people out there who are inherently bad, there is no disputing that fact. But thinking all of society or humankind is defective is not the fault of anyone else. It is the fault of my mind. This is the problem with misanthropy.
I have had a lot of negative experiences in my life. I’ve always believed these experiences were a common occurrence for not only myself but for everyone else. I assumed what others were like based on these experiences.
Yet, I’ve also had many positive experiences. If I’m being honest, the positive experiences far outweigh the negative. I need to embrace the positive and let go of the negative. I need to realize even though people differ from each other; we are also all very similar to one another.
We are all trying to get through life. Life can be tough and we all deal with problems in different ways.
Trying to understand these differences is the first step towards philanthropy and away from misanthropy. I have taken responsibility for my own actions and way of thinking.
Most importantly, I understand the reason I disliked people is not because of them, but because of me.