I'm mystified at how few people acknowledge this.
Why did Tiger Woods cheat on his wife? Why does Paris Hilton do drugs? Why does Charlie Sheen act so Charlie Sheen-y?
Closer to home, why do we and the people we know do self-destructive things even though we know better?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've spent most of my life hanging around with degenerate show-biz types--your rock musicians, your stand-up comics, your professional wrestlers--and believe me, when it comes to self-destructive decisions, nobody does it better. I may have sampled a few of those behaviours myself.
I've also seen the damage it's done. I've also seen the difficulties people have in trying to change--or in other cases help a loved one change.
We know doing drugs is bad. We tell ourselves it's not a good idea to eat junk food or smoke. We realize cheating on our partner's might not work out so well.
And the question we have is: I know these things are bad, but I keep doing them?
I'll tell you why.
Because Bad Things are also awesome.
Sex with Someone Else is awesome.
Getting drunk is awesome.
Junk food is awesome.
I'm not saying these things are good for you. They aren't. I'm saying it is pretty hard to make a change--or tell somone else they should change--without admitting that many of the bad things we do are also awesome.
Think about it. If these things sucked, we wouldn't have to convince ourselves or others we shouldn't do them because we wouldn't be doing them in the first place.
If sex with a new partner wasn't awesome, we wouldn't do it.
If drinking wasn't fun, we wouldn't do it.
If french fries weren't delicious, we'd be super-sizing the broccoli order with our combos.
Trying to pretend these things don't do something for us is dishonest. Worse, when we call people who do these things (and sometimes that person is ourselves) bad, we are making it harder to escape. Because our bad things don't judge us.
Beer will never yell at you.
Food will never titter about your weight.
You can't feel guilty and have an orgasm at the same time (Believe me, as a Professional in the Art of Feeling Guilty, I've tried) and new shoes will never nag you about your credit card statement.
Unfortunately, this is where the trap is sprung. Because often the things that are awesome lead to other things in our life sucking.
New stuff is awesome...but being in debt sucks.
Junk food is awesome...but feeling unhealthy and sluggish sucks.
Things that suck are no fun. So we turn back to the awesome thing...
...which leads to more suck.
So we run back to the awesome...
...which leads to more suck...
And the cycle continues until the awesome stuff isn't even that awesome anymore, but facing the suck is so much worse that we need it just to keep from feeling bad.
Or maybe it doesn't. Heck you can maintain an awesome-suck truce for years, either by keeping them in an uneasy balance or by riding the awesome highs and enduring the crashing lows. And let's face it there's a certain thrill riding the roller coaster of suck and awesome; it's like being in a passionate, but unstable, relationship--where would the thrill of getting back together and wild make-up sex be without the agony of being evicted because she threw your guitar through the balcony window.
There are lots and lots of reasons to stop these kinds of behaviours. We can acknowledge how they affect us and our families. We can remind ourselves how they damage our lives. We can even pay attention to how we feel when we're free from them.
But to pretend we don't sometimes like doing these things?
Let's not kid ourselves.
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