Our mind naturally categorizes experiences. This helps us make choices, feel safe, and in control.
However, this habit of compartmentalization and labelling can become an issue when we get too black and white, too polarized. Even grey areas become “bad” or “wrong.”
Certainly, such labels are appropriate for egregious things like inappropriate violence. But when many of our daily experiences get labelled like that, it creates a resistance behaviour that impedes smooth flow and resolving the experience. This keeps the “bad” experience around. As usual, what we resist persists and shadows our choices.
Then when something similar arises, it not only becomes a trigger for a similar response, it also brings up the shadow of the past. We become haunted by what came before, regurgitating stories about it over and over.
Those stories tend to become “big fish” stories, progressively exaggerating our justifications for our opinions and feelings. A big drama develops from a minor perceived slight.
Complicating it, if what we resist causes us to feel deprived, that sets up the unpleasant experience as a reward. Like shopping or sweets, we then crave what we’re resisting. Being “bad” gives us a hit of satisfaction (dopamine), whatever the consequences that follow. The larger our sense of deprivation, the greater the tendency to binge on what we’ve resisted. And the greater the consequences.
We repeat the behaviours over and over, reinforcing what we don’t like and lowering our quality of life.
All of this because of how we’ve categorized what arises in our experience and the resulting habits of thinking.
You may think this is overstated, but it’s amazing what becomes conscious as we take a step back from being in the middle of it. One flag you can watch is the stories we tell others about our life.
If we instead find a way to be OK with what is, whatever it is, we break the judgment and labelling and we break the chain of consequences that follow.
This doesn’t mean we encourage the difficult. It means we stop fighting, look at what is here, and seek to resolve it. We avoid feeding black & white or all-or-nothing thinking.
Moderation is the solution.
Bad? It is what it is. Let it go (video). Then it will go away. Still here? Go more deeply into how you are with it.
PS – if the topic interests you, you can explore Attitude-Behaviour Consistency Theory, that our attitudes and opinions lead to our behaviour (and thus consequences). Core beliefs overshadow the best made plans.