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The “Dark Side” Of Dolphins (And Humans)

Dolphins are beautiful, playful and intelligent creatures.  People who have had the chance to swim with dolphins often describe it as an experience of spiritual communion.  Some have commented on how harmoniously a pod of dolphins lives together, and wished humans could get along so well.

But dolphins have a dark side.  They don’t exactly follow a vegan or macrobiotic diet.  In fact, they don’t eat veggies at all.  They’re carnivorous predators, and they have sophisticated techniques for rounding up, and gobbling up, big groups of fish at a time.

Dolphins Have a What?

Did it sound silly to you when I said “dolphins have a dark side”?  It sure did to me.  After all, dolphins don’t choose to be carnivores.  That’s how they’re designed (or, I guess, how they randomly came to be, depending on what you believe).  There’s nothing “dark” or “evil” about one animal eating another.

So, for me, that raises the question:  why do we tend to see humans as having a “dark side”?  Why do we tend to cast emotions like anger, sadness, and envy — feelings humans seem to be designed to experience — as “negative,” “evil,” or “bad”?

Why Believing In “Negative Feelings” Creates “Negativity”

I think the idea of “negative emotions” is one of our culture’s most crazy-making notions.  This is especially clear in the way parents relate to their kids.

We often see a parent thinking this way:  I felt angry when my child did X; anger is a “bad” emotion I’m not supposed to feel; my child is “to blame” for my anger; thus, I will hit or demean my child to take revenge for how they “made me feel.”

I think there’s a good chance that, if we stopped seeing anger as a “negative emotion,” there would be a big shift in how parents relate to their children.  Instead of trying to “hurt their children back” when they felt angry, perhaps parents would become able to simply tell their children how they were feeling.

Please Just Drop The “Shark Grin”

And how about sadness?  So often, I meet people who are forcing their faces into a rigid grin to hide how sad they feel, because they think it’s weak, inappropriate, or an imposition on me to show what’s really going on for them.

When I’m with a person who seems to be trying really hard to hold back their sadness, I’ve taken to simply asking them if they’re feeling sad.  If they’re willing to drop the smile and admit it, both of us usually feel so much more relaxed.

I think learning to accept that we’re all going to feel angry, sad, envious, and so on from time to time, and that we can’t, and don’t need to, “get rid” of those feelings, is such a key part of our growth.  Just as dolphins are designed to eat fish, humans are designed to experience “dark emotions” once in a while.

Oh, and I’ve got some more Johnny Signs videos to share with you.  Some people have asked whether it’s okay to laugh at these, and my response is:  you have my blessing.  Enjoy!  (Again, if you like them, I’d appreciate a “Like” on YouTube.)