“By polluting clear water with slime, you will never find good drinking water again.” Aeschylus
Little white lies. Secret vices. Professing one set of values while living another. Spending several years decrying the playing of political games by senior managers and then, on promotion, suddenly ‘seeing’ the truth and joining in instead of challenging those very behaviours that angered you yesterday.
These are examples of the polluting slime that destroys us from the inside. Like cancer is an organism that feeds on its host until the very source of its nutrition dies and kills the cancer that needed it, this psychological slime chips away at our ability to act in accordance with our stated beliefs and values until we are no longer the person we seek to become.
The sad part is that we let it happen. Instead of listening to our conscience – actively listening – we stamp on its voice in preference for the convenience and happiness of the moment, of the immediate gratification. We justify the pie, the cigarette, the alcohol, even the drugs in a ‘one time won’t hurt’ approach. And at that moment, our conscience shouts, “OY! Don’t be STUPID!” And we go ahead and do it anyway.
One amusing experience I had was a woman I worked with walking out of a shop with a refill for her e-cigarette in one hand, and 20 Benson and Hedges King Size in the other. Two years later she proudly told me she hadn’t smoked ‘for a week’. DUH!
It is simple. No, I rephrase that, based on experience. It is simple; knowing what to do when it needs to be done is intellectually simple. Doing the right thing in the moment is a lot harder.
One day last week I decided to start eating salads in work, and declined the kind offer of a chocolate muffin. The very next day, the muffin-pusher walked in to the office to find me tucking in to two – yes, two – Steak slices, bought in a hurried lunch-buying trip to the very same supermarket from which I’d bought the salad.
I did so feeling guilty, and I did so knowing that I was polluting my body with saturated fats – and my mind with the slime of excuse, convenience – and failure.
Teachers used to have a phrase they wrote on many a student’s report card, and one which we should all recall and reinforce in our lives when it comes to listening to our conscience, and living in accordance with what we believe, and what we promote. Three words.
MUST TRY HARDER.
Join me in doing that, this week.
Go on – learn more by reading this book.