I’m talking about staying up late to write a blog despite an early start (ahem), eating a whole bag of cookies, spending money I don’t have, putting the kids in front of the TV so I can cook in peace. I know, it’s all very dull stuff. Perhaps this blog would be more interesting if I listed things like smoking, drug taking or excessive drinking? Well that would be a lie because I don’t do those things. Maybe a person who does though, could relate to the sort of guilt and shame I feel when I scoff chocolate in my car and hide the wrapper? In any case, this blog isn’t so much about what I or anyone else does. It’s about when we feel bad about what we do and we do it anyway.
I believe that unless you live in mayonnaise jar, most people know what’s healthy and what’s not. I truly believe that. I know a lot of people would disagree with me. They’re probably the people insisting more information be sent out to the public about the harmful effects of sugar, lack of exercise or excessive screen time. “People keep smoking – they must not know it’s bad for you. Quick put some gross pictures on the packets so they can’t miss it”. Honest to god people, we know. I would say that most of the time, we know when we’re doing stuff that’s not good for us. It’s not information that’s missing – it’s something else. Something..…I’m trying to put my finger on what it is.
I had a life coach once tell me that you don’t break a habit by just stopping. You have to start doing something else. Great advice but what if we don’t know what else to do? And further still, is doing something else really the answer? All that guilt and shame I pile on myself for doing that “bad/wrong/naughty” thing isn’t enough to make me stop. There’s got to be some sort of perceived benefit that makes the self loathing worth it. Perhaps if I knew what that benefit was, I could find a healthy way to receive it?
It’s very interesting. I don’t have any sort of answer but I’m writing this blog anyway because I don’t think there’s enough conversation going on about it. About why we do stuff that we know is “bad” for us. I don’t think it’s because we’re bad, lazy or stupid. Almost everyone has some sort of vice I’m sure and I wouldn’t want to write the whole of humanity off in that way. In my view, human beings are complex. Complex in the lives we live, diverse in the experiences we have and the relationship dynamics we navigate. To say – “oh, people just do that because they’re ignorant, stupid or lazy” would be a too simplistic explanation in my opinion.
Whatever the explanation is, I doubt it will provide an easy fix (and I’m usually such an optimist!). In fact, perhaps knowing why wont help us at all. In the end, what will help us to change habitual negative behaviour will be some sort of action. For me, I think it will be a matter of staying present in those moments of “poor choices”. Observing my thoughts and emotions. Seeing if I can stay curious about them and refrain from judgement. Perhaps that’s the something else I could do instead of my habit. I wonder how long I could sit in the discomfort of not doing the bad thing I want to do. I’ll try it next time the left over cake is calling (despite changing my number).
Bron (bad dooer)