Understanding Your Daily Focus
In this week’s Daily Focus, I want to talk about The Seven Deadly
Sins, but in a good way. Hear me out. I spend a lot of time thinking about
shame and guilt, and the distinction between the two.
One of these, guilt, can be good for us. It’s a learning tool that offers constructive criticism, it tells us, “Wow that felt bad, actually, let’s change this behavior to avoid that feeling.” It’s part of what makes us human, and it’s what allows us to grow. The other one, shame, is not a constructive power, it’s a destructive one. Guilt tells us that we did a bad thing, or that we did something badly, while shame tells us that we are a bad person. It urges us to hide pieces of ourselves, to lie, to steal, or worse.
The Seven Deadly sins are the encapsulation of shame-inducing behaviors, all of which have been drilled into our minds as negative by society. But what if we choose to look at these behaviors through the lens of guilt rather than shame? What we end up seeing are avenues for growth, rather than avenues for shame. This week, I’m going to tackle a different Deadly Sin for each day, and how you can actually use each one in a constructive way.
Saturday, March 13
“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we
can’t strike them all by ourselves.”
Oh, Lust. Sex has long been the most shameful aspect of human nature in Western society. People of all genders are taught from a young age that sex is dirty, destructive—and necessary. When you take something as basic as attraction and ascribe to it a moral failing, the shame creeps in early. We are all taught to feel bad about our desires and our actions. However, people have been having sex, even kinky sex, since the dawn of time. If you can learn to listen to your desires and what they reveal about needs that aren’t being fulfilled within you, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of yourself.
Sunday, March 14
“If necessity is the mother of invention, then surely greed
must be the father. Children of this odd couple are named: Laziness, Envy, Greed,
Jr., Gluttony, Lust, Anger, and Pride.” –John R. Dallas
Greed is probably my least favorite of these Deadly Sins because it is the only one that actively takes away from others. However, this is when we look at Greed as a behavior, and not as a feeling. When we look at it as a feeling, we can use it to examine our own desires and our long-term goals. It’s okay to want a safe, luxurious lifestyle—it just depends on how you go about getting there. When it comes to fundamental aspects of your life, shortcuts are not your friend.
Monday, March 15
“I am Envy, begotten of a chimney-sweeper and an oyster-wife. I
cannot read, and therefore wish all books were burnt.” –Christopher
If we don’t act on Greed, is it just Envy? Is all Envy greedy? If you ask me the answers are yes and no, respectively. Greed without action is just a feeling, which is a form of Envy, but not all Envy is greedy. Greed seeks to take something away from others, while Envy wants what other people have. It’s less about surpassing, and more about achieving. Envy can be a positive force if we use it to set goals and boundaries for ourselves.
Tuesday, March 16
“Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is
itself the essence of all sin.” –John Stott
Pride is good if you ask me. We are constantly told to feel bad about ourselves, that we don’t compare to what we see on social media, that we aren’t good enough or strong enough or hot enough. Taking pride in your work, in your body, in yourself—it can be a valiant act of bravery.
Wednesday, March 17
“Curiosity is Gluttony. To see is to devour.” –Victor Hugo
When I think of Gluttony, I think of drinking, or drugs, or other substances that can lead down a rabbit hole of needing more. I think that the core of Sin aspect of Gluttony is feeling like you need more of something, even when the consequences of that action could be dangerous or negative. In today’s world, we are programmed and corralled into feeling like we need things we don’t need. Instead of looking at this desire as a sin, we should look at it as a way to set healthy boundaries.
Thursday, March 18
“Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it
goes away.” –Paul Terry
As someone with disabilities, the idea of “laziness” is
something I’ve come to abhor in recent years. We do not all move at the same
pace; it doesn’t make any of us bad people. There are a lot of ways to be
helpful, useful, and communal without needing to stick to outdated ideas of
strength and ability.
Friday, March 19
“Of all the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun” –Fredrick
My therapist once told me that anger is actually a good thing,
although once again, that’s when it’s a feeling and not a behavior. Sometimes
we need anger to help cut us off from other, interconnected emotions. Being
angry at an ex helps ease the pain of losing them and can help put into
perspective what went wrong. Does this mean you go key their car? No. It means
you learned something valuable, and you can now carry that info with you as go
Consider yourself leveled up every time you learn a lesson from
one of these Deadly Sins, and don’t let shame get in the way of growth.
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