How to Control Our Dual Nature
Human nature is complex. Even if we do have inclinations toward violence, we also have inclination to empathy, to cooperation, to self-control. Steven Pinker
Human Nature and Dualism
Is the nature of all human beings the same? Merriam-Webster defines human nature as “the ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that are common to most people.” We can see from this definition why psychologists, philosophers, and sociologists opine at great length over what human nature is. I can attest to this as I try to explain human nature and its dualism below. Keeping it simple and understandable is not easy.
When I look at humans in society today, I see many examples of a duality of our nature. Right vs. wrong. Body and soul. Good and Bad. Us and them. We think and act from this duality. This duality exists in all, but we can and should control the side of our nature that we live in and exhibit most often. I look back on my life and can find many times when my dark side was in control. It is not something I am proud of. So, I will give you six steps to help you stay on the side of your dual nature that you prefer — your good side.
Our Dual Nature
The penultimate book that describes our dual nature in fiction is “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. The main character has a dual nature: the good and the bad. This duality is the major theme — are we either born good or bad, or do both exist within us. There seems to be a very clear answer, at least to me — we are usually born with both. This is our duality.
How we handle it and change it if we don’t like it are the core questions each of us must answer.
Controlling our duality.
We control our dominant nature (good or bad) by controlling ourselves through our minds. For example, temptations to slip into our bad side abound. We can disobey laws or follow them. We can believe in people or categorize some as good and some as bad. We can debate the truth or refuse to see it because of our nature.
As an example, how I think and react depends on my values, morality, and my abiding drive to help others—these guide my actions. Unfortunately, I say yes more often than no to myself and others. Not always a good thing because it can lead to my being overwhelmed even though it is consistent with who I am. I feel a little guilty whenever I pass by someone with a sign on the street when I don’t stop and help. But my control slips on occasion, and I rationalize my bad self. It is OK to speed because there are no other cars on this highway. I can categorize people by thinking that they are entitled to be stupid.
I have to remind myself that everyone is entitled to their opinion. But the opinion I disagree with is not the whole person I can still relate to, despite that opinion.
Here are five ways you can help yourself spend more time in your good nature.
Five ways to learn to control your dual Nature and Better Understand others.
- Examine what you do and what you think about. Again, this comes down to knowing yourself and why you are doing what you do. Don’t rationalize bad behavior. Instead, examine it and learn from it. Realize, going into this process, that you are the result of your experiences.
- Don’t put others down so you can succeed. If you are old enough, we have all heard the stories of corporate cultures where everyone is conniving to rise to the top at the expense of others. Then do bad things and rationalize it as ‘it’s only business.’ People in government who make decisions based on their ability to stay in power, rather than what is best for the governed, are putting themselves first.
- Meditate: We need to spend time each day in contemplation and reflection. Calm your body and mind from the chaos of the day. Reflect on what is going well and what needs to be changed.
- Study mindfulness: This is the study of being fully aware of each moment of your daily life. We often don’t live in the moment, and we are too busy thinking ahead or worrying about what has gone past. Mindfulness and meditation are often used synonymously, but there is a difference. Here we are trying to learn how to live more fully in the moment. This can be helped by the reflection and contemplation we are doing when we are meditating.
- Maintain a growth mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck describes two types of mindsets in her book Mindset the new psychology of success — a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A person who operates from a fixed mindset and receives a setback blames it on something else. It is never their fault. They can’t correct it. A person with a growth mindset who receives a setback sees it as an opportunity to learn something new, not as an inherent fault. Practice for 10,000 hours, and you can learn anything. So act with a growth mindset life is an opportunity, and you can always learn to do and be better.
The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, “I was wrong” Sydney J. Harris.