One day, you realize that you have a bit longer than a full hour for lunch at work. While usually it wouldn’t quite be worth it, today you decide you’ll pop back home to have a quick sit down lunch with your wife.
You get home, opening the door and stepping in. A strange noise greets you — it sounds almost like…groaning? But not a woman.
Your heart leaps into your throat, a pounding knot.
The feeling of confusion overtakes you like the stifling fog of a sauna.
Inside your mouth becomes like the Sahara…
Quietly going across the house, you get just outside the bedroom and hear her. She’s clearly having sex with another man.
Opening the door, her legs are…
— — —
I’ll spare you the details.
But the sensation you may be having— rage, disappointment, humiliation — all relate to the feeling of betrayal of this husband.
When someone behaves around you one way, or says certain things to you, we construct a belief around who they are.
When this someone is found acting in a manner completely inconsistent, what do we perceive it as?
When you yourself behave in a way inconsistent with who you want to be, you give yourself every excuse in the world.
Every single day you betray yourself.
You act in a manner traitorous to that future being you say you want to be!
“Oh, I just had a few Old Fashioneds,” you excuse yourself, ignoring the 500–800+ possible calories you had…to say nothing of the binging snacks getting home.
Traitor to your slender, fit self you desire to grow into.
“I’ve been really crushing it at work, so it’s time for a PS5. I deserve it!” you tell yourself, ignoring the hundreds of dollars you pulled out of your investments.
Traitor to the retired-at-50 future self you aspire to.
“Ugh, I stayed out with the girls way too late last night — I’m going to skip church and my morning meditating. Besides, I did all that overtime this week…” you explain to your pillow, opting out of your spiritual routine.
Traitor to the balanced, spiritual self you want to become.
“I really just want to stay in today. I’ll tell him I’m sick so I don’t have to meet for coffee today,” you reason with yourself, leaving your friend in the lurch.
Traitor to the friend you seek to be.
Traitor, traitor, traitor.
You would be hard-pressed to forgive the betrayal of a spouse or friend, so why are you always giving yourself a pass?
When someone else is misaligned in their actions and words at you, it’s treason.
But when you misalign your own actions and words, it’s one excuse after another and letting yourself off.
If you truly aspire to grow, you’re going to have to occasionally label yourself a “traitor” to yourself.
We must each day act in a manner consistent with the person we seek to become.
Anything else is complete betrayal of the self.
Follow for daily philosophical meditations.
These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Ancient Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”
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