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Talent, ambition and jealousy

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran

I was thinking the other day, and these things seem to fit together. If you have talent and recognise that you are good at something, then that can give rise to the ambition to express yourself and be recognised for your efforts. That can in turn end up feeding jealousy when you encounter those more successful than yourself.

I’m sure this is responsible for a lot of infighting among talented people.


  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    This is one of the reasons to question, whether having a natural talent for something is enough of a reason in itself to indulge in it. A loss of equanimity too often seems to be the collateral damage that folks don't account for when exploring a talent that one has a natural propensity for.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The liminal space Veteran
    edited December 2021

    It can be. It can also be a motivation to be the best you can be to be of benefit to the world.

    And even if a wholesome motivation isn't there the world can often benefit anyway. Think of Thomas Edison, by all accounts a complete ass but the world benefited greatly from his talent.

    As spiritual practitioners of course we seek to purify our intentions both by being vigilant against negative feelings and encouraging positive ones.

    Besides even those less talented can feel jealousy towards those more successful and can engage in infighting amongst their peers. Unskillful intentions are pernicious and will grab onto anything available.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The British are quick to put people on a pedestal, and then knock them off it, just as quickly. It's not an unusual phenomenon to have someone in the public eye, lauded for their beauty and/or talent, but then see them shot down in flames with prejudice and criticism... As a result of this, perhaps, the British now dislike blowing their own trumpet, to the point of self-deprecation...
    "Oh that's a gorgeous dress!"
    "Oh, goodness, I've had it years! But it's so comfortable!"

    Or -
    "Gosh did you draw that? That's really good!"
    "Oh, it's just a doodle, really... I was dreadful at school, drawing all over my books...!"

    When a simple "why thank you so much!" would be more suitable, but somehow sounds vain...

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The liminal space Veteran
    edited December 2021

    I believe there is something known as tall poppy syndrome that's fairly common in Australia and NZ similar to what @federica mentions.

    From a sort of evolutionary perspective its important for group cohesion that individuals don't get too big for their britches. So it isn't just a British or Western thing, its a common practice in more "primitive" cultures to also take the piss out of the talented and successful and also something that the "winners" themselves do, diminishing their own successes.

    So humility and group cohesion.

    That said, I think there can be a distinction between letting your light shine and tooting your own horn. And tall poppy syndrome can become a detriment to society if it prevents people from contributing up to their potential.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes, it's a prevalent characteristic, and I think ingrained into us from a young age by our elders.
    At the risk of kicking the hornet's nest, I also think it's drummed into little girls to not be vain, boastful or ambitious, even, particularly females of my generation... We were always taught to be demure, ladylike, modest, and chided if we had any idea for an instant, that we could take centre stage.

    If evidence were required, you've only got to look at Disney cartoons, then and now; at how the Princesses were always being rescued as opposed to being upfront and brash, as has been the more recent trend for the Disney Heroine...
    I think I have also mentioned (although I might be going of at a tangent, but I think it's relevant) Television, and adverts in particular, have drummed a stereotypical image of brash, primary colour loud boys, Vs, genteel, coy, pastel colour discreet little girls... Even Enid Blyton's Famous 5, Anne was protected by Julian and Dick, but Georgina was the tomboy girl, who preferred to be called 'George' (if ever there was a prime example of transgender, or adolescent lesbianism, there it is!) and played rough and tumble. Standard girls weren't allowed to do that. You had to be labelled a 'tomBOY' if you displayed any typically masculine ambitions...

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