“Being bad” is an attitude that runs rampant in eating situations and is bound to get you into a heap of trouble. The behavior is so common and accepted that you might not realize its destructiveness and that it lies at the heart of acting out and self-sabotage. This kind of immature rebellion—using “being bad” to feel good—arises in all sorts of realms: shopping, money, work, chores, and living by rules in general.
The attitude is summed up in the words, “I’m being bad” accompanying behavior that flaunts rules or principles or any perceived set of “shoulds.” Such as...Although your bank balance is low, you buy that new cell phone because of its bells and whistles, and while forking over the plastic smirk and think, “I’m so bad.” Angry at your boss, you sneak an extra 15 minutes on your lunch break as, “I’m being bad, but so what?” flashes across your mind. You promise your boyfriend you’ll stop being such a flirt, but coo and smile at your new hunky co-worker and tell yourself, “Ooo, am I bad!” You sneak a cigarette, then dowse yourself with perfume so your spouse won’t smell it and feel uneasy but also deliciously brazen about how bad you’re being.
The good/bad issue crops up frequently in the food arena. You may even eat a “forbidden” food just to get that “I’m bad” rush cause it feels so darned good to break rules. “Being bad” situations fall into two categories. Sometimes you are really doing something that’s against your best interest: overspending, abusing food, getting back at someone in a passive-aggressive way. Other times, though, what you’re doing is fine, healthy and good for you and you only perceive it to be bad, such as eating a piece of chocolate cake or lasagna when you’re hungry and that’s what your taste buddies are screaming for. Or spending money on yourself because you need something but aren’t used to being nice to yourself. Or taking a few minutes more on your lunch break to really unwind and distress rather than rushing back to work.
The whole concept of good and bad starts in childhood and should stay there. Whether you’re “being bad” in ways that don’t serve you or believing you’re bad when you’re not, you’re really rebelling against the harshness of how things were back then. Thinking in terms of good or bad is not helpful around food or anything else. Considering what’s sensible and rational, what will make you proud or ashamed, and what’s in your long-term best interest are the only healthy approaches to decision-making. As soon as you find yourself thinking, “I’m bad,” stop right there. Then forget good and bad and focus on the choice at hand and whether or not it’s going to serve you well in the long run.