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Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Seven Deadly Sins

I find the 7 deadly sins interesting in terms of looking at the ‘extremes’ of human behaviour. As with everything, we need to maintain balance. We all have these 'sins', but we can keep them right-sized to the point where they stay healthy and don’t take over us.

Here is a list of the sins, with my personal ‘solutions’:

Pride (sometimes called ‘vanity’). We should all take pride in our accomplishments, and have a reasonable level of self-esteem. A healthy sense of fulfillment in ourselves is essential for good psychological functioning. However, when pride turns ‘excessive’ it becomes narcissism, arrogance, egotism – an inflated sense of self-worth. Feeling that we know everything, that we ‘control’ everything, and that we don’t need to learn anything. This is dangerous as it makes us close minded. The solution to pride, I believe, is humility. Thinking about what we can offer others. How we can become better people – not necessarily better in our profession or at what we do, but who we are and how we treat people. Accepting that we don’t know ‘it all.’ We are all tiny pieces of the puzzle in this vast and complex universe.

Envy. The green-eyed monster. When you feel low about yourself, it always seems that the grass is greener on the other side. When we envy someone we grow to resent them. ‘Why is their song better than mine!’ I sometimes think in class. ‘Why did they get a louder round of applause than me! Oh come on, I can write way better lyrics!’ When we envy others, we feel a sense of ‘entitlement.’ Everything is about ‘me, me, me.’ We want to be better than others, we want to prove ourselves, we want what ‘they’ have, because deep down we feel ‘less than.’
My solution to envy is support. Rather than sitting there, angry because someone is more talented or smarter, compliment them and look for the positives in their work. Recognise that we all have flaws and weaknesses and insecurities. In this life, what goes around comes around. If you treat people like shit or think badly of others, the same will come back to you. Likewise, if you help others and see the good in them, the same will come back to you.

Gluttony. At first glance this seems the most ‘harmless.’ So what if I eat (or drink) more than I need? I’m not hurting anyone. Unfortunately, when you binge unnecessarily, you are harming your health, and perhaps using food as a crutch. I’ve always had a bit of an issue with sugar; before I drank, I spent all my teenage years binging excessively on sugary food and junk food. Not as much as others, granted, I’ve never been fat; however it did make me put on weight and lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome which I suffer (mildly) on and off with.
To live a healthy life, you have to respect your limits. This means not ‘over-consuming.’ Eat and enjoy the sweet things of life, but don’t ‘eat away’ at your feelings to cover up internal problems.

Sloth. This isn’t just ‘sleeping all the time.’ Sloth is laziness, idleness, procrastination; avoiding work and responsibility. It’s about ‘putting off’ what you can do today until tomorrow. When one leads a slothful life, they stop putting in effort into themselves, the ones they love, their job or education, their health, etc. A slothful life is detrimental to succeeding as a person.
My solution to sloth? Motivation. Perhaps this is the hardest. We all struggle with motivation and putting effort into things. Sometimes it is nicer to just sleep the day away or lie in bed watching Game of Thrones. Whether you’re slothful or an ‘over-thinking perfectionist’ like me, the best way to motivate yourself is to focus on the day. If you focus on what you need to do today, rather than thinking about tomorrow, you will find yourself getting what you need to get done that day, every day.

Greed. I sometimes get greed and gluttony mixed up. While gluttony is specifically about food and drink, greed is about desiring more than one already has. (Usually money or material things. Also ties in with envy). Greed is about wanting what others have; again thinking the grass is greener than the other side. When I think of greed, I think of an evil looking man in a suit who owns a major corporation and wants to create some capitalistic monopoly. But greed can simply be taking rather than giving. Greed is selfish, and greed is resentful, and greed again comes back to thinking that you’re the ‘most important thing in the world’ and that you ‘deserve it all.’

Naturally, my solution to greed is selflessness. When you constantly want more, you will never be satisfied. Rather than wanting, give. Become useful and helpful to others rather than wanting to ‘take’ all the time. This is why a lot of rich and famous people donate to charity or do lots of humanitarian work. Become selfless ties in with becoming humble, and is all about moving closer to becoming more wholesome and at one with others and the world.
(Note: selflessness DOES NOT mean becoming a pushover or a people-pleaser. Having ambitions and a level of pride in yourself is important. This is about taking an interest in others and helping them as well as yourself, rather than ‘draining’ others).

Lust. This is a weird one. We all crave sex (apart from asexuals); it’s a natural part of being human, and is how we pass on our genes. But these sins are about ‘excess.’ Like pride, lust is fine as long as it’s right-sized. Lusting after someone sexually is totally natural, and in many contexts (like getting ready to fuck your partner), lust can be great. Masturbating is great, porn is great, sex is great. What isn’t great is self-abuse. People can use sex unhealthily; to get back at someone else, to manipulate someone, or ‘forcefully’ in terms of coercion, or rape and assault. There is also using sex or porn addictively, and using it as a substitute for living.

My solution to lust is love. That doesn’t mean I think sex should be reserved ‘only for love.’ People can do what they like. What I mean is that in order to have a healthy attitude to your sexuality and sex life, you have to love yourself first. You should self pleasure (i.e. masturbate – but not to the point of addiction) and figure out what you like. You can explore your sexuality with one partner or multiple partners. Sex is always about another person as well as you, so when having sex an element of selflessness needs to be there. Using protection to ensure that both of you won’t pick up STDs. Being on birth control if you aren’t looking to get pregnant. Discussing these things with a long-term partner. Making sure you treat your partner respectfully in the bedroom and ensure their needs as well as your needs are being met.

Anger (sometimes called ‘wrath’). For me, this is my worst one as it’s caused me serious trouble, to the point where I’ve been arrested. (I tend to get pissed off, frustrated or irritated a lot as well). We all feel angry, and it’s a basic human emotion, but often as children we’re taught to suppress our anger. ‘Tantrums’ become scolded. I always thought of myself as a ‘dormant volcano’ as a teenager; I held my anger inside until eventually I exploded. And when I explode things break; people get hurt, or I use alcohol or self-harming.
For me, anger is fuelled by all of the above sins. All of the other six sins, when heightened, ultimately lead me to anger and resentment. And underneath all of this is fear and guilt. A feeling that I need to be right, I need to be in control. Somehow I can’t let go of the anger someone made me feel years ago. How do I let go? How do I let go of my anger?

I let go of it through forgiveness. Perhaps the most important.When you feel angry or resentful to someone, forgive them. Holding a grudge against someone is like drinking the poison and waiting for the person you’re angry with to drink it. And a lot of times, the person we’re angry with is the person we see in the mirror. How to solve this? Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself before you can forgive others. Then forgive the ones that hurt you, that broke you. Or maybe they just disagreed with you, or gave you a funny look, or laughed when you didn’t want them to. It doesn’t take a lot to piss me off (sadly), but most of it comes from self-centred arrogance. ‘I’m right, you’re wrong. Fuck you.’ I’m sorry Zarina. I forgive you for being such a self-centred arsehole. You’re my self-centred arsehole.
(I’m not really an arsehole, I’m pretty lovely).

And there you have it, my personal take on the sins and how to handle them.

1 comment:

  1. i agree with this, though i'm not religous i believe all of these should be kept in check cause taken to the extreme things can end up badly very quickly


I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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