Flirting with the Dark Side (it’s time to quit!)
Tl;dr: you should never forget to listen to your emotions. However, you should always make sure to observe them from a distance. Humor is a key to that.
I have always been a rather emotional person. When I was in elementary school, as many French pupil, I would be a judo student.
I would like to say I was gifted and talented but I was not. I probably was one of the worst students ever.
Not really spirited for the fight, I was always the first one to be defeated. And the medal I always got was that of self-control, featuring a guy from Asterix refraining to cry.
Years later, as a teenager, I was to learn karate. It proved to catch my mind in a much more significant way.
As I made progress in my Shotokan karate training, I was soon filled with agressive feelings. Whereas I had always been a quite moderate person, my anger and my inner rage manifested in many more situations, generally in a very uncontrolled way. I remember yelling at my best friend for him recalling me to make kiais (those cries you are supposed to make when training), as I “did not feel it”.
As you probably know, in Star Wars mythology, the Force is divided into two opposite entities. On the one hand, the lighter side, generally simply called “the Force”, which consists in feeling the flow of things and trying to to get in harmony with that flow to get to your point (be that influencing a person’s mind, dragging an object to you, or making “impressive” jumps).
And there comes the dark side of the Force, in which negative emotions are at the central core of things. To break your way through the world, you need to release your angers, your fears, your hatred.
I have been tempted for long by the dark side, trying to use my negative emotions for success. It is my anger at school inequalities which drove me to success in one of the most demanding French schooling program.
(In the inaugural day of my class, a visibly powerful man told us: ‘Prepa is the French equivalent for the Purgatory”. When I told my father he answered: “And you are not a believer. Are you going to listen to him?”)
However, anger without an object ended up into a depressed attitude when I finally ended successfully in Normals Sup’.
When creating my company, I have often felt, once again, the calling from the dark side. However, now, I have chosen never to walk its path again.
Emotions convey a very significant force. With emotion, you can break boundaries and get to places you would never thought you would end up in.
However, you want your emotions to serve you, not you to serve you emotions.
As a young professional I am often confronted with emotions in my daily work, as in art, emotions are central. Some of my close collaborators can get in real emotional dismay when I told them one of my ‘adventures” (generally a series of events which looked badly, smelt badly, and were in the end… contrasted). I have often questions such as: “Oh really he told you that??? But why did you not burst out into anger at him? Why did you tell him?!’”
Generally, it happens that my reaction at that super and supreme provocation supposed to get my anger going produces this: “I simply laughed and told then with a smile it was a total nonsense and an utter provocation. Sincerely. And you are lucky to be discussing issues with me and not at my colleagues. All of them would get in rage for what you just said.”
And generally we burst out into laughter with my friend who tells me: “Woaaa even at that time you knew I was going to say that !!”
Because I’m detached from being sensitive to provocation, I can end up being provocative myself. But that is only because in the end, I have accepted that all that is a game in which anger and the dark side dramatically make things worse.
Reacting emotionally to insults and provocation will make you look as a fool.
Reacting with humor to insults and provocation may make you look as a fool, but it will more surely dispel all kind of bullshit network created by your opponent to frame you.
Saying with a little smile to your opponent: “Oh you want to manipulate me right? That last sentence, it was just intended to make me feel bad and to leverage on that, right?”, then getting back to your point, is a much more powerful tool than answering provocation by anger and hurt hubris.
So yes, you need to establish a distance between you and yourself. Only that distance will keep you away from being ridiculed as you step into the dark side.