What Do You Do That You Shouldn’t?

We all do things that we know are bad for us, for our individual selves or for our society or for our environment. And yet for one reason or another, for pleasure or convenience, for personal ease or peer pressure, we do them anyway.

What do you do that you know you shouldn’t?

Related questions: How much of our thoughts are our own? What are our responsibilities to others? How do you define success? When is it useful to fail?

7 thoughts on “What Do You Do That You Shouldn’t?”

  1. My worst habit is always putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own. While some people (like me in the past) may think that’s a compassionate thing to do and not a bad habit, I had a nurse set me straight. She said if I don’t take care of myself, soon I will be of no good to anyone else either. So if I take care of myself, I will be of more benefit and assistance to others. That stuck in my mind because I had never thought of it that way before. I am getting better, but still need to work on not always putting others first.

    1. Thanks for being so honest in your answer, Dorothy. It’s true. Taking care of yourself helps you stay strong and healthy … and in a much better place to assist others.

    2. Thank God I am not alone in this area.
      I unfortunaly, am a caretaker by nature. Although some see this as a good character traite. It also can be detramental to self.
      I would not have thought of this… Thankyou for the reminder.

  2. While my mind quickly gravitated to short-term gratification versus long-term satisfaction type things (e.g. gorging myself at a buffet, posting a blog entry before I’d edited out errors and for succinctness), I decided to ask my wife to give me an answer to this week’s question: “What Do You Do That You Shouldn’t?” Her answer was immediate. “You, Michael Dahl, beat yourself up over things.”

    I apologize profusely for small mistakes. I torment myself for minor flubs in the past, giving them outsized influence over the present moment. I project in the future: how is something I didn’t do perfectly in the past going to ruin the future?

    My therapist would agree with my wife. She tells me that not only can this attitude be perpetually self-defeating. It is, quite plainly, unhealthy.

    I’ve really got to get away from this error in my ways. It prevents me from being my best self … the funny cheerleader.

  3. I’m a worrier, big time.
    I inordinately worry about tragedy and disaster hitting myself or family. For example: I don’t like water, and won’t even touch salt water, for fear of drowning (it’s how my dad died). I don’t like flying (ever since 9/11). I try not to watch the news as it makes me worry about extremely remote ways that I could get sick, injured or die. Example: A local woman contracted hantavirus by breathing the contaminated air in her vehicle where a field mouse had died in the air vent. After seeing that, I refused to drive my car until my husband had taken apart, and checked, all the vents.
    Yeah, I’m a worrier.

  4. My first response, after reading this week’s question, was “I’m not going to tell you that!” I was surprised by my reaction, because it came from the gut, before I had time to think. So I began to ask myself where that came from. The key word for me is “should.” Who gets to say what I should or should not do? I realized I was responding to the Shoulds of my childhood, which came from 1) my parents, and the norms of behavior usually instilled in children, and 2) my upbringing in the Christian church. Close behind that came the concept of Shame. If I Shouldn’t do it, and I do it anyway, I should be Ashamed. Ultimately, this meant a “video camera” of sorts was installed in my mind, one that I occasionally have trouble turning off even today. Some outside observer (God? my parents? grandpa up in heaven?) was watching and weighing my every action. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time reviewing the tape and criticizing myself. I can still pull up the strongest images from that video library as if they happened yesterday.

    Shame in the religious context was closely tied to Sin. Sin was inevitable – everyone did it, no matter how hard we all tried to “be good.” “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That worldview was very hard to swallow, because I could never, ever be seen as good and whole on my own merits.

    I am no longer a churchgoer. As an adult, I weigh my actions using my own scale, one derived from a lifetime of experiences. What’s done is done, so my energy is best spent looking forward. Was anyone harmed by what I did, including myself? How can I do better the next time?

    As to the things I actually do that I shouldn’t? I’m still not going to tell you.

    1. Karen:

      I definitely associate with your answer. I too once linked “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” with the concept of sin and shame that were part and parcel with the particular church I was going to as a child or the devout person I was listening to at the time — sometimes some very fire and brimstone types. I always fell short.

      For many reasons, I have since become an atheist with my own personal compass of right and wrong, shame and forgiveness. I wouldn’t say that I am less critical of myself, but it does help to know that the guidelines I try to live my life by are my own.

      As for what that means, truthfully it’s hard to sufficiently put into words. But I guess I’ll attempt a brief answer: I identify with the harm principle as well as the need to feel compassion and empathy for others who are suffering. I often bring these values into my practice of social justice and just politics.

      Do you feel comfortable sharing more about your own scale?

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