You do certain things you feel good about, things you don’t mind the whole world knowing. You eat broccoli every day, for example. Strictly for the sake of communication, let’s call these “good deeds.” And you do certain things you don’t feel so great about, things you’d rather not publicize. You eat a dozen donuts every day, for instance. Strictly for the sake of communication, let’s call these “bad deeds.”
No matter how much you grit your teeth, no matter how much you tell yourself to eat more broccoli, you’re going to belly up to the donut counter from time to time. You can look at this as a mistake, or you can look at it as a learning opportunity. How do you make bad behavior work for you?
Rather than kidding yourself by “looking the other way,” hoping you’re done with bad deeds once and for all, can you accurately predict your next relapse? This isn’t about judging yourself, but about being 100% honest with yourself. And right before you dig into those donuts, can you pause for just a second and ask yourself two questions:
How are you going to suffer from this behavior?
How are others going to suffer as the result of your behavior?
Be fully honest with yourself, then eat the donuts (or don’t), no judgment necessary.
Blaming yourself, feeling guilty–these are just distractions from the true matter at hand. The true matter at hand is self-awareness.
It’s not so much about avoiding bad deeds. It’s about observing your process every step of the way, noticing how you feel with every bite of donut.
To say it differently: If you’re going to misbehave, be fully present when you do so. Do what you do, but watch. And over time, these unwanted behaviors gradually, gradually self-correct. It’s less about self-discipline, more about unflinching self-honesty.