Every human being loves to be accepted by others. But this seems to be a daunting task, as it is not easy to be accepted by everyone around. Acceptance is something so difficult, that we often find people not accepting even their own family members whole-heartedly.
The next best thing is to be acknowledged of one’s existence. When we hate or dislike anyone, we do acknowledge their existence. Psychologists call it ‘negative strokes’. Positive strokes are those which we give to people whom we like or love.
Positive and Negative Strokes are Good
One might think that negative strokes are the worst, as it means complaining, criticizing, admonishing or chiding. These are things that people dislike or hate, isn’t it? But wait, you would be surprised to know that hating or disliking someone is not the worst thing to him.
Human beings can live with hate. Even negative strokes are some sort of human interaction. Albeit negative, but it shows some sort of attention. This is why some children indulge in mischief, to attract attention. It is easier for us to tolerate negative strokes, as it carries some sort of attention.
Why Ignoring or Neglecting is a Worse Punishment
Being ignored completely is one of the worst punishments a human being can be inflicted with. This is the reason why extreme punishment often involves solitary confinement. Those who have seen the film “Cast Away” will remember how the character of Tom Hanks who is marooned on a deserted island tries to interact with an inanimate object like volleyball, as if it is a human being.
Humans have an inbuilt hunger for relationships and contact. As we are made to be social creatures, we need attention, love and recognition from others. When we don’t get any, we feel lonely and miserable. We feel abandoned and cut-off from life. That is why indifference and neglect are considered worse than even dislike and hate.
George Bernard Shaw rightly said,
“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.”
Dislike or hate, in the least affirms one’s existence, even if it is in an unpleasant way. While ignoring someone or being indifferent stands for abandonment and simply means that the person doesn’t exist in the other’s eyes. The opposite extreme of love or like is not hate or dislike; but it is indifference.