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The good addict: your nuts in a vice

Our addiction to "being good" and "not being bad"

This addiction to righteousness infects almost everyone over the age of three and is the most toxic of all addictions, with very few of us ever recovering from it.

Parts of the problem

Part of the problem is not recognizing it as a costly addiction (especially since everyone has it).

Part of the problem is diagnosing its symptoms when they occur.

Part of the problem is awareness of the costs.

Part (a big part) of the problem is its short-term compelling benefits, rivaling the power of the Sirens whose seductive songs could lure the most stalwart sailors off their course even though they knew it meant the death of everyone aboard when their ship crashed into the rocky shores.

How's your righteousness sniffer?

For each of the following thoughts or words spoken, can you explain how each could be a symptom of the righteousness addiction? Slow down in your reading and actually take the time to see if you can explain how righteousness could be a part of each and every expression below.

  • "You can't leave him. He needs you."

  • "You should do what I say because I'm your parent."

  • "I believe in giving back."

  • "How can you be so selfish?!"

  • "Each of us has a obligation to others."

  • "I wish I weren't so lazy."

  • "I don't feel like I am good enough."

  • "I don't like people who complain."

  • "I'm always getting behind on things."

  • "Loyalty is an important virtue."

  • "I should have studied harder in school."

  • "My husband cheated on me."

  • "I shouldn't have to babysit you."

  • "People should contribute their fair share."

  • "I failed at losing weight like I said I would."

  • "My wife should fulfill my needs."

  • "The world would be a better place if more people were..."

  • "I owe it to my parents to take care of them."

  • "People should be more honest."

  • "It's hard to be a good parent."

  • "I am so proud of my diligence."

  • "You've got to be careful or people will take advantage of you."

  • "I believe in being a team player."

  • "I shouldn't have been so insensitive to my friend's feelings."

  • "I am always trying to improve and get better."

  • "I think I should get what I want."

How sensitive are you in recognizing the extent of costs cause by the righteousness addiction?

For each of following situations and costs, would you be able to explain how righteousness could have been a necessary factor in making those costs possible?

  • A husband and wife tolerate an unhappy marriage for the sake of the kids.

  • Two countries go to war together.

  • An excellent athlete sacrifices everything to win an olympic medal, but it's still not enough.

  • A student studies hard to get good grades in a subject that doesn't interest the student.

  • A woman gets bashed almost everyday to help her forget her regrets.

  • A man has many friends and spends a lot of time with others and he's always lonely.

  • A woman overpromises to others and often doesn't say "no" when she wants to say "no."

  • An employee doesn't set boundaries with the boss because he wants to be thought of as a team player.

  • A teacher doesn't ask for what she wants because she doesn't want to appear as selfish.

  • Two lovers scream hateful words at each other and then withdraw because they each felt taken advantage of.

  • A man feels betrayed because his wife had sex with another man.

  • A woman buys high-priced designer clothing so that others will be impressed by her to make up for her not being her own best fan.

  • A man gives into a life of drugs and alcohol, believing that it's impossible to earn the respect of others.

  • A worker feels defensive whenever anyone criticizes them.

  • A person is never able to live a life true to themselves because they're always driven by trying to prove that they're good enough.

  • A woman cannot believe that her husband really loves her because she doesn't believe she's lovable. 

  • A wife and mother gives up her own happiness and taking care of herself by trying to prove she's a good mother and wife.

  • A man works hard in an unfulfilling job in order to ensure that others see him as a responsible family man.

  • Believing he got a raw deal in life, a man becomes a petty thief and sometime con artist.

  • A woman, trying to prove that she deserves the best in life, consistently spends more than she can afford.

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there."


What is the roadmap to get to that field?

Start with Undoing shoulds and following the directions after that.

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