How to opt out of what’s not good for you.


Is there anyone alive named Lucifer or Jezebel?

Things would be easier if folks were named according to who they really are.  But then, nothing that’s bad for us ever appears as itself.

It’s enticing and it feels good and it’s easier to buy into than what’s good for us.  Otherwise no one would ever do anything bad for them.  Because we’re at least smart enough to avoid hurting ourselves.

What if: Oversleeping always meant your sleep was filled with nightmares about the unproductive day ahead?  The first sip of alcohol made you vomit and ache?  That hot other man or woman was tattooed with the ways they’d ruin your life? A loan required you to pay interest up front?   Hanging out all night required a divorce settlement be met first?

Somehow we always seem to forget this simple fact:  If it’s bad for us, it will be the most incredible-seeming indulgence around.  Only when you’re knee-deep in chocolate cake singing the blues in the key of G–urgle will you look up to realize maybe… Just maybe saying no, or a little moderation would have been better.

What’s particularly dangerous, is not everything seems so dramatically bad for us… AND it’s disguised as awesomeness.    There’s no such thing as not so bad.  Thankfully we can always put things in perspective even if it isn’t easy.

Three things help with this: Distance, time, and honesty.  

  1. Distance: Run like the dickens. We all have a flicker of doubt when something potentially bad comes our way.  When you have that, get away from whatever it is fast.  What’s bad for us tends to be readily available and we won’t have to work for it.  It’s incredibly distracting to ponder whether you should eat a red velvet cake pop when it’s in your mouth.
  2. Time: Let it disappear. Once you’re away from it, make a commitment to yourself to do nothing. Say no.  The inkling of doubt usually is dead-on.  But we don’t get a chance to see it if we barrel ahead to do whatever our intuition is telling us we shouldn’t.  Don’t leave room for what-ifs, conditional bad behavior, or not so bad.  Just opt out.  This grants time for you to see it for what it was and for it to go away.
  3. Honesty: Can you handle the truth? The biggest challenge is, the first two steps require honesty.  Sometimes though, when we’re honest with ourselves we don’t like everything we see.  No one wants to believe they’re powerless to control their urges.  That they want to do something that will hurt them.  That their friend has bad intentions.  That something they trusted isn’t real.

We can’t win a battle if we don’t know where our weaknesses are.  When we rage ahead thinking we have everything under control we don’t.  But nothing’s going to stop you but you.  That’s why when we opt into bad behaviors they tend to get worse and worse:  The volume gets turned up on the message we were too proud or ashamed to see in the first place.  We have to stop ourselves before that cycle begins.

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