We hear the word overcompensating and our brain views that word negatively by default while there’s a lot more to it. Every one of us is always changing, with a constant desire for something more or just something different and always craving for a utopian construct called the normal without voluntarily accepting any sense of complacency in the long term. Though these desires are generally perceived as an obstacle to peace by many classical philosophies, I’m going to reframe them in this article to show how our humane dissatisfaction and our constant desires can be the most constructive quality of our species.
The Jealousy Game -
Whenever any person, including ourselves, sees anyone flaunting their wealth, physique, achievements, wins, or lifestyle, the average human reaction is to label it as overcompensating and follow it up with jokes unrelated to any empirical data. Of course, this comes out of a place of jealousy in our subconscious that tries to rationalize other people’s lives/work in relation to ourselves with an innate need for a self-righteous narrative that’s craved by all naturally humane minds. This feature of our human spirit can be a great thing when used in a beneficial way. This gets difficult for many people who feel a need to use these narratives as excuses to self-moralize and self-validate themselves, without realizing that it can stay merely an excuse and creates the opposite effect in reality. This becomes a constant cycle that increases people’s dissatisfaction instead of using the same dissatisfaction in a useful manner.
The Neverending Normalcy Hunt -
Whatever situations people keep going through in their lives, everyone always want to return to a highly self-glorified place of normalcy that had never existed in their past. Yet, we humans obsess our thoughts with it by connecting a high feeling of nostalgia with it. Sometimes people remember a period of their lives a few decades ago or just a few years ago and fantasize about returning to that place where they think everything was normal.
That time of their lives wasn’t normal, as even that utopian period of their lives was actually spent fantasizing about another period of their lives or even other people’s lives which they’d thought was normal. We’re always on the hunt for a lifestyle we deem normal, and this hunt never ends. Even when we get it, we quickly become dissatisfied with it and start fantasizing about something different, even something better. This unquenchable desire might accidentally be the most progressive nature of our human nature.
The Fuel Of Dissatisfaction -
Maybe the first step of using this fuel is in acknowledging satisfaction is always a temporary, ephemeral high that will always wane if it’s not constantly fought for on a regular basis. I’m not encouraging anyone to consume narcotics or to drink high amounts of booze every day to get that temporary feeling of bliss and satisfaction which would be ruined by a hangover soon after. Yet, I feel the same principle applies to all aspects of work and life, and mainly to our spiritual sense of satisfaction or moreover, to tackle the long hangover phases of dissatisfaction.
The lazy option would be to label the whole concept of satisfaction as a temporary high and call it an unnecessary part of life. That will not make a person immune to our very humane desires and urges. Complacency and peace are not that natural states of being for us humans. If it were, then everyone would be as peaceful as a stereotypical Buddhist monk or a Stoic philosopher, and that’s impossible. Though I can respect such people who’ve found peace, calm, and stillness in their lives, I also acknowledge that they’ve spent a lot of effort into it and sacrificed too much for it. Furthermore, such states of peace and calm can be detrimental to the progress and development of our species as a whole, not just ourselves. So, in a way, such long periods of suppressing our humane desires can be selfish and socially destructive as it can hinder our potential, our work, our efforts, and our contributions to the world at large, be it at any level, scale, field, or probability.
Our humane dissatisfaction can be miserable if we let it stay, but if we hear it and understand the constantly evolving desires behind the mask of our dissatisfaction, then it can be a compass to guide our lives and work, and even a very useful source of fuel to keep driving us to do things. That dissatisfaction grows when we don’t do anything about it. The truth is we’ll always be dissatisfied with whatever we do and might forever be in search of a normal all our lives. The practical solution for this might lie in listening to our desires and working for them and constantly getting doses of satisfaction regularly just like chasing the temporary high from substances.
An easy example can be working out or running which gives me a euphoric high through the adrenaline, sweat, blood flow, and other biological phenomenons, but this high goes away a while after I finish the workout. When I work out or run every day, I get back the euphoric fix, like a junkie chasing a quick fix on a daily basis, and even gradually increase what I do to amp up the feeling of satisfaction. This goes away on the days that I don’t workout. I get a similar satisfactory high from writing, be it nonfiction articles like these, fiction, poetry, reviews, or anything. Even in this context, not writing for many days can be painfully dissatisfying just like a junkie who’s not getting his fix. I get satisfied by doing things, creating things, experimenting, and I sometimes get good results from it. The things which satisfy us are different for everyone. Not chasing it can be the worst form of existence, as I personally feel miserable like a lifeless cadaver when I’m not doing things to keep chasing this temporary high of satisfaction.
The Constructive Spirit of Overcompensating -
Like it or not, we’re all overcompensating for something at all times. Nobody’s completely immune to it. Each person’s overcompensating in different ways at all periods of our lives for a varied number of reasons, usually for similar issues that are connected to our insecurities. The mainstream values and outright positivity tends to view insecurities as a flaw to overcome or defeat, while in reality, they cannot completely die. People’s insecurities can be replaced with other insecurities at different phases of their lives, and sometimes controlled and managed to an amazing extent, but they are never fully terminated. A dead body in a mortuary would have no insecurities, but even the most confident and amazing living person to the most miserable and pathetic living person in the world are all filled with insecurities all the time.
Just like there’s no absolute one-stop fix for our humane dissatisfaction, the same principle applies here. Like a junkie popping daily doses of whatever uplifts their spirits to earn a temporary and fleeting high of satisfaction on a daily basis, overcompensating for our flaws and insecurities on a daily basis can be the solution. I understand how this can sometimes be destructive as some people overcompensate by harming or hurting others to make themselves feel better and this has given a negative branding to the whole concept of the word. But despite how we view that word, we’re all overcompensating in every action and choice we make every day of our lives.
I’m definitely not advocating for hiding our flaws, insecurities, and problems as they’ll always be transparent to others despite anything people do to bury the things they don’t like. I personally feel morally good with the concept of shameless honesty in recent years as most issues are not worth lying about, and being shamelessly honest can inspire, amaze, amuse, shock, or stun people, all being constructive results in their own way. We all have an innate feeling of needing to be or even being better than those around us, those in our lives, or even many other people in the world, and though that can sound bad it’s also responsible for a lot of greats things done by our species that’s bettered many others. We can joke about how most human interactions are an endless ego-measuring contest, but this competitive spirit can also make us do a lot of good things, and that’s far greater than avoiding this ego-measuring contest would lead to a useless life.
If everything we do is an act of overcompensating, then it’s good to overcompensate wisely to benefit us in the long run instead of stupidly overcompensating in ways that are both destructive and dissatisfying. Satisfaction can be earned on a daily basis, and just like that, consciously overcompensating wisely on a daily basis can keep our insecurities and flaws beaten down to a metaphorically bloody pulp instead of them having power over us. This unconventional outlook can be empowering, energizing, and even dangerous if misused. Any person can do good to themselves, the society, and humanity as a whole by focusing on their strengths by working on them on a daily basis instead of focusing on their weaknesses. A person’s weakness can only get a bit better, but nobody will excel at something they don’t enjoy on a higher existential level. The things which excite us existentially become the path towards greater satisfaction that can be earned by channeling the constructive spirit of overcompensating.
(I know this thought exploration article is an unconventional take on real issues in an uncomfortable yet somewhat inspiring way. It’s not completely satirical but has good amounts of a dark and tough philosophy.)
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