Do you ever ask yourself this question?
I have asked myself this question for as long as I can remember. In fact, I use this argument as a way to justify complaining. It’s not a habit I am proud of and I’m working on changing it. But I often find myself getting angry because I can’t find a definitive answer to whether something is good or bad or right or wrong.
Do you ever get to a point where you truly don’t know which option to choose? It’s a little bit like Analysis Paralysis, but different.
I often wrestle with whether or not I am being selfish or assertive. If I’m being honest, I often know whether I FEEL selfish or if I FEEL assertive, but I don’t know how OTHER people feel about it.
For example, my kids want to eat at an expensive chain restaurant I don’t like. I don’t enjoy spending the money for what I perceive to be very little value, but I don’t know whether that is a good reason to say no. Even in this case I can quickly get sucked into an internal argument about whether I am being unreasonable or not.
Another example might be related to work/life balance. Do I want to work extra to make more money even if it means missing out on family events? Am I being an insensitive dad or husband by working more? Or am I being a good provider?
It seems like there’s no way to know for sure. It often seems impossible to tell the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
And when it does seem like we know, it’s pretty easy to argue that it’s just an illusion. Don’t we just CHOOSE to know the difference, and choose the option that makes us look less bad?
And knowing the incentive to make ourselves look better, or to feel better, or to stop ruminating about whether the decision is good or bad – knowing that incentive it’s pretty easy to believe we are lying to ourselves.
The only thing I can figure is that it IS a choice. That, and it seems like deep down we ought to know.
But those are sort of ‘Are’ vs ‘Should‘ arguments, aren’t they? How do we know if we are in our ‘are’ or if we are ‘shouldding’ ourselves?
Ultimately, it must be some sort of internal decision. Either we choose to do things differently because we are wrong, choosing incorrectly, selfish, or whatever. Or we choose to accept our decisions and choices as being motivated by good intentions. It’s sort of the innocent until proven guilty thing.
And like last week when I talked about Self-Compassion, I would think it is healthier to default to treating ourselves well and not beating ourselves up. It seems like being kind to ourselves is a good thing.
And it also seems like we really would know when we are doing wrong. It seems like guilt after the fact, or regret, or hindsight would reveal if we were truly doing something that disagreed with our values or the way we want to live our lives.
It seems like we’d know. Only it is hard to know!
Over the next few Episodes I am going to dig in to some of this more thoroughly.
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