Now I work more of my time out of my home, I am exposed to many more interactions with other people.
People I work with and stand next to on the train.
People in the lift and people at the next table in the food court.
People wandering the street or waiting for someone in the foyer.
People, people everywhere.
I’m either involved in, privy to, or overhearing their conversations. Snippets here and there through to long, deep discussions.
There is one topic that comes up a lot. It is one that frustrates me no end. It is intriguing. It confuses me greatly.
It is one comment I hear over and over and over again that really does it. The far-too-common
I’ve been so bad today.
Always, always preceded or followed by
I ate …
and anyone one (or number) of the following:
Note: this list is by no means comprehensive nor complete. Not even close. I’m astounded by how many things cause a person to be bad.
Have a donut.
There’s a common variation of the above “I’ve been bad”, that is particular to parenting, and mothers even more so. It goes along the lines of …
I’m such a bad mum. I didn’t cook tonight/went through a drive through/got takeaway/made toast/gave the kids cereal for dinner …
Again, by no means a decent list, just a sampler.
A taste plate, if you will, of things that make you bad.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to talk more generally, and less about the parenting/mothering thing, because that, really, is just a subset or category of the whole “I’m bad” thing.
So, well, I’m really confused.
I’m going to assume you’re not a bad person. You don’t appear to be one, and you usually say “I’ve been bad” and not “I am bad”. I fear, however, that you’ll start to think that if you keep telling yourself, and others, how bad you’ve been.
So I’ll go with the idea that you’ve done something bad. You’ve behaved in a way that is reprehensible.
The way you’re talking though, it’s sounding like what you’ve done is beyond reprehensible. It’s atrocious.
It’s so bad, really, that it’s sounding like you should be locked up, or perhaps a death sentence for such abhorrent actions?
Let me just try to understand this a little better.
You’ve been bad because you ate? Is that right?
You did a thing that all humans do, in fact, a thing all humans need to do to survive and this is “bad”?
Or “really bad”? Or “naughty”?
So … I’m trying to understand … as a human, with a human body that needs regular intakes of energy, vitamins, minerals, and other micro- and macronutrients, who has a brain that needs certain nutrients to function … you have done something “wrong” by doing a thing that is, essentially, not only necessary for life but also aids you in, I dunno, being able to actually function during the day?
Look, I get that eating donuts, say, may go against your desire to lose some body fat and how this may not sit well with you. May, in fact, make you feel guilty (another thing I don’t get but that’s for another time) and decide you did something “bad”.
Fact is, what you have done by eating the thing you know is not conducive to your goals or desired outcomes is not bad behaviour; it’s a lapse in integrity. You’ve reneged on a promise you made to yourself. You haven’t kept your word. To yourself.
This isn’t “bad”. It isn’t “wrong” or “naughty”.
Wrong is 1 + 3 = 86
Naughty is when you draw on the walls with the permanent marker and you know not to do it.
Bad, and especially the way it is being used in the eating with the intensity you do, bad is when you, I dunno, stab someone, or do something really nasty, or walk into a crowded place and shoot people.
The discourse scares me. We are taking the act of a very normal, innate thing that we need to do to not only get through each day, but to live (and increase the chances of reproduction and, therefore, survival of the species which, let’s face it, is pretty much our reason for being here) and likening it, effectively, to malicious behaviour, murder, intentionally maiming or harming others, and just being a right arsehole and making the lives of others miserable is … weird.
I don’t get it.
I would, however, like to see the language around this behaviour – the eating food thing – changed.
You are not bad, nor have you done anything bad when you do something so mundane as eating.
Please stop telling yourself you have.
It’s worse for you than the stuff you’re putting in your mouth and claiming you are bad for doing so. It’s denigrating, demoralising, and does nothing to motivate you to eat (and do, let’s not forget there’s some doing to be done) the things that are going to help you achieve the goal you set for yourself.
You’re not doing the wrong, naughty, bad thing when you break your word to yourself.
You are, however, merely human.
And not all humans are bad.
You seem like a nice human.
One that I have never, ever considered as badly behaved, even when that slice of cake, the piece of pie, or the handful of chips passes your lips.
I don’t think you are at all. I’d like you to stop telling yourself you’ve done the wrong thing.
Please? For you … because it’s not for me.