Another interesting topic I was discussing with N – the idea of our personal deadly sins. N asked which of the seven deadly sins I most associate with. I found this a fascinating idea. It actually links into why we do a lot of the things we do.
It took me a little while. At first my main thoughts were wrath, pride, and lust or greed could all apply. I perhaps show envy at times too, but generally not too badly.
It was at least nice to cross some off. I’m not gluttonous. I like food, and will sometimes eat too much, but not to the point of gluttony. Sloth felt harder to remove, but in the end I did, and it was heartening to do so – I know, in my heart of hearts, that I’m not lazy or slothful. If anything, I now agree with people who say I try too hard sometimes – I’ll work until the point of exhaustion, and then still beat myself up over not keeping going. So sloth was out, and my feeling of self worth and affirmation in not being lazy was up (which is nice, because some people have accused me of being work-shy).
Lust or Greed I was unsure about too. Lust is more commonly used for sexual matters, but can be used metaphorically for wanting anything – hence greed as well. I’d say I hit both. I enjoy sexual stuff, and would generally say I have a higher libido than average. I also want items, and metaphorically drool over things that I’d like to have. Ultimately though, I don’t think these actually change my behaviours. I may lust after something but if it’s inappropriate, I don’t actually act on it – and I’ve had plenty of times where I could’ve been inappropriate, or taken advantage of someone, or stolen something without any repercussions, but I still won’t let myself do it. These are sins which I know I could commit, but which I don’t.
Equally, envy doesn’t quite fit. I may be jealous of people having that I don’t have, but usually I decide that I have chosen a fair few aspects of my life, and I didn’t choose to be materialistic. Non-material things I may be more envious of – where people have had a better start in life, better opportunities, etc. However, I try not to let this influence how I act towards people either.
Then we come to the fun ones for me – wrath and pride. I am undoubtedly an angry, sometimes violent person. I can’t help it, it just happens. I get angry so easily. It takes almost nothing to set me off – a slow moving driver or walker, a slightly rude shop assistant, a funny look from a passer-by, or even an inanimate object which doesn’t do as expected. I shout, scream, swear, and even become physically aggressive (mostly at the inanimate objects). I’m not however sure that I’m a wrathful person.
This is where looking into it for yourself becomes interesting.
With a bit of probing from N, I looked into why I get angry. The reasons are invariable liked to shame, embarrassment, and generally being caught off-guard. This, logically, comes from pride. If I am embarrassed by something minor, it is because I my pride says that I should be composed at all times, that I should know exactly how to react, that the person is quietly laughing at me, and that they’re putting me down, and that’s what angers me. So not wrath really, but pride.
This is the first sign of pride being a ‘sin’ in my terms, where it negatively affects my behaviours. What are the other negatives? I can be very stubborn. If i think I’m right, I often won’t budge. Even if I know I’m wrong, I will argue my point just to be ‘right’. While this can lead to fun debates, it can lead to nastiness and hurt feelings unless people know that’s what you’re doing (N is exactly the same, so you can imagine how heated those debates can get).
I will also often refuse help on things which I feel I should be able to do. This can be very damaging. My pride says I should be able to lift a box, while my joints scream in agony. This is the most physically harmful habit, so the one which I feel the need to work on soonest – it’s pretty bad when a mental tendency starts affecting your physical health.
So, is it all bad? Is Pride a deadly sin? I’m not so sure. There are good aspects to my prideful nature (or is that my pride talking…?). I certainly never like to remain ignorant, and it has always seemed smarter to actually learn something rather than feign knowledge. I wouldn’t say this is common amongst all prideful people, as some seem to just insist that they know things when they don’t. For me, however, I take great pains to learn stuff. I’ve learnt three instruments, how to sew, how to write different media, how to 3D model, how to do graphics, etc, etc.
Pride does make the learning process more difficult, in that I never want to risk being bad at something. N, being similar, was hesitant to try photography as she knew the first load of pictures would likely be bad, and that’s something her pride would struggle with. Logically we can agree that very few people are able to show a skill well without any practice or learning, but those early steps, and the obvious failings of them, horrify the pride in N and myself. We expect that we should be perfect from the get-go. Realistically this means trying a lot of stuff in private, and only revealing our attempts when we deem them good enough – even to ask for help, we have to be to a certain level before we can show the problems we’re having.
Pride does however keep me on a good moral footing. I believe that to do amoral things is wrong, and anything wrong isn’t allowable by my pride. I know exactly how to steal, cheat, and deceive people at times, but my pride stops me before I do so. Partially it’s because I worry what others would think of me, partially because I know I would be ashamed.
So Pride can be a very inhibiting sin to have. It stops me doing a lot of things because of fear of embarrassment. I sometimes wish I could be silly and have fun like some people do, but it seems too scary. Instead I end up introverted. I also struggle to ask for help, or admit to any weakness. At the same time I end up learning everything I can, mastering as many skills as I can, and generally being a good person. Whether or not that’s a fair trade-off is hard to say. I can’t really imagine being any other way, though I have some friends who promise they’ll help.
It’s interesting to analyse your ‘sin’ – even if you don’t believe in the concept of sinning (as a non-christian, I don’t really) it provides a good start point to inspect behaviour patterns, and focus on how, hopefully, to change undesirable ones.
I’d love to hear if anyone reading this cares to figure out their sin and how it impacts their actions.