I haven’t time for ‘sides’, I think I gave up taking sides in disagreements when I became an adult. And yesterday when I heard a grown woman say to another grown woman: “Oh don’t tell me you’re taking her side, now!” I was stunned.
I know all the people involved in the disagreement they were discussing, and I didn’t realize sides had been established.
Why is that? Because the only time I’ve been on anything that resembles a side is when I was swimming competitively and our team was swimming relays – then I was on a team, not a side.
I can’t bend my mind round taking sides.
Surely life is about more than taking sides.
Yet taking sides seems to be a lot of what life is about. Politics and sports are well known for side-taking. Taking sides conjures images of football hooligans rumbling in the street after football matches because their side won or lost. Or political parties running hateful smear-campaigns to bring down their opponent – because they don’t know any other way to win. It makes no difference. The mentality must run something like this: “Hey those guys are on the other side, let’s beat them into the ground.”
Or the sides kids take in the playground at recess. You know those kinds of sides. Usually run by a bully.
We have a huge consciousness about bullies in schools, with children. Do we understand the bullying of establishing and taking sides as adults? In the workplace, community groups…you know what I’m talking about. As one person put it to me:
“They’re all blues. She’s red, and they don’t want a red person around.”
It’s not about the person, the work, the sport – it’s about establishing sides based on different colours.
Do you know someone who is a different colour? Their skin is the same colour as yours, their eyes slant the same way, their face and body are basically the same shape, but they’re a different colour: they think and act differently than you, they dress differently; they’re just different!
We call groups that group together on the basis of sameness, to the exclusion of anyone who’s different – who doesn’t fit their prescribed mould – as cliques. Cliques are usually headed up by – for the sake of discussion let’s call it a blue – king or queen who is, yes – a bully, or snob, hiding their bullying in self-righteous snobbery. The leader always has ‘persons-in-waiting’, including at least one die-hard hanger-on who will fight to the death for privilege of being a ‘person-in-waiting’. These people give the blue bully that added oomph to kick the butt of the other side, or the reds, as my friend puts it.
The only side I’m on, is the best side.
What does the best side look like? What drives it? What are its goals?
To do the best job it can do. To be the best it can be. To allow its light to shine brightly, and to encourage others to shine their lights, and give them opportunities to do so. That’s the only side I ever want to be on. The people I see on this side all have a beautiful glow, and being around them is like being in a big bowl of love.
So the next time someone asks you to be on their side in a disagreement, tell them you’ve already joined the best side, the side that lets everyone shine. You might also ask, depending on your relationship: “Why don’t you want that person to shine? What’s the risk to you in letting them shine?”
Does the amygdala drive bullies?
Ronan7Things wrote an interesting post on the amygdala – that reptilian part of our brain that runs the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism.
He writes in his post “Stress Reduction Close Your Eyes and Visualize:
The other thing you have to realise about the amygdala is that it’s a very old brain. The amygdala has remained basically the same for millions of years. It doesn’t understand television, it doesn’t understand video games and it doesn’t understand complex stress and relationship drama. What does this all mean? It means that the amygdala can not differentiate between real threat and perceived threat, real pleasure, or perceived pleasure.
It makes me wonder, is it the amygdala that drives bullies? Is it the amygdala that drives the blues to hate the reds? How much longer will it take for our brains to evolve so that the amygdala has been tempered – cooled down, so to speak?
Rohnan prescribes positive visualisation as a way to counter-act the over-reacting amygdala and trick it into thinking everything is great! And then everything is great! Because your amygdala has been reprogrammed. Oh how easy is that, eh? Just reprogram your amygdala with 20 minutes of positive visualisation, twice a day and all will be well.
My experience? It works. It really works. It’s an amazingly powerful, life-transforming tool. Practice, practice, practice. 20 minutes, twice a day – change your amygdala’s core program, change your life.
Visualisation of any sort is good.
My partner’s sister and his mother fell out. He refused to ‘take sides.’ Some years later, he had a serious disagreement with his mother. The sister took the mother’s side. That’s life. People do it. Best to keep out of it all or it drags everyone down.
Visualisation certainly works! Most powerful is when you visualise a positive real experience rather than an invented one.
Taking sides is so childish. Leave it in the school yard.
This is a fantastic post (not just because I got a mention lol)! The arbitrary nature of taking sides is just ridiculous. Once I realised that the people on the other “side” are just like me, like my family, like my friends I knew there was no point in feuds, grudges and side taking. Very much agree with the bullying thing. See in a cooperative structure there is no room for bullies, in order for a bully to get the power they crave they need to create division, hierarchy and conflict.
I don’t think the amygdala on its own can create bullies, but it’s well known that despite the appearance, bullies are filled with fear and feelings of inferiority. This could be due to bullying or abuse that they have experienced, which is being reenacted by an overactive amygdala and nervous system. Perhaps if they got some good healing, and worked through their issues they would reach a point where they no longer felt the need to hurt others.
Then there are psychos pure and simple, people who’ve often had perfectly normal upbringings that are simply void of empathy and remorse.
All we can do is do our best, and be a good example to others. Don’t put up with bullies in our lives and try to spend our precious time with like minded, decent human beings 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
All the best.
Thanks Rohan, It was a good post to write. Your post on Visualisation was great and I really liked the way you explained the amygdala. Bullies are perverse creatures. I’d like a post on how to change our response to bullies in such a way that the bully is diffused. I guess that takes serious mental training. Maybe you could write it?
That’s a tricky one. Bullies seem to have the upper hand no matter how we respond. If we respond with violence or verbally attacking them back they will often play victim, if we respond with reason and empathy we can be laughed at, and if we ignore them the bullying often continues anyway.
The most effective methods I’ve found are simply to remove yourself from the bully as much as possible and do your own personal healing.
I wrote a post on this: http://rohan7things.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/how-to-get-rid-of-a-bully-or-psychopath/
Take care, all the best!
Great post Rohan, I reblogged it. 🙂 Too much on my plate these days to do much blogging.