If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re already a good person. Or at least aspiring to be. At the end of the day, only an aspiring ‘good person’ would even contemplate this question.
Surprisingly, though, some of the best-natured people I know, hold a deeply ingrained belief that, somehow, they are inherently not ‘good enough’ or plain ‘bad’.
Flawed — maybe. Aren’t we all?
But bad? It takes an intention to harm, conscious maliciousness, and propensity to derive joy from the misery of others for someone to be bad. And none of the people I associate myself with, would fall into this category.
And yet, many of us feel that we’re bad or ‘not good enough’, wrestling with anguish and disappointment at our imperfections.
I, also, often fear that despite my best intentions, my slip-ups and missteps prove that I’m not a good human after all.
Perhaps before we fall into despair, we should take a step back and analyse the factors that most commonly determine what being ‘good’ (or ‘bad’) means.
What does it mean to be good?
I recently watched Miss Americana, a documentary about Taylor Swift. I wasn’t expecting much from the movie, but one of the first things she said in it, sparked an ‘aha moment’ in my mind.
A statement that I could completely identify with and that’s made me feel quite miserable and ashamed throughout the years:
‘My entire moral code, as a kid and now, is a need to be thought of as good. (…) It was a complete and total belief system that I subscribed to’.
The documentary then goes on to depict a moving story of a wanting-to-be-good woman who never feels that she’s good enough.
The reason for it, as she herself admits, was that she based her judgment of whether she was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ on what others thought of her.
The problem with this approach is that ‘what others think of us’ is subject to three often quite contradictory factors that we may have very little influence…