Ancient texts often describe human behaviour in simple ways.
Nowadays we have an army of psychatric descriptions of our being and I often wonder if it isn’t just us that are out of line with our nature. The Bible mentions the Seven Deadly Sins and for a good reason. People don’t change much, but the societies we build do. We often forget that after billions of years of evolution, our brains are quite stuck in primitive behaviour.
Ancient spiritual masters, I imagine, used a great deal of time to think and debate with powerful intellectuals, sometimes under the influence or in the company of people under the influence, of very potent psychedelics, only available to the highest order of spiritual guides, aka. people that know how to get high in order to understand complex things and without turning into addicts.
Let’s break down these Seven Deadly Sins one by one, and then look at possible opposites.
My all time favourite sin and the most destructive, as it can disrupt families with one foul move of desire. The only time I have been unfaithful, was during a rather dire relationship with an alcoholic narcissist, whom had run me up against the wall emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We decided on “a break,” so I could figure out what I wanted, as she put it. Later that night we went out on town, where a girl approached me and few minutes later, we were sitting in a taxi towards her apartment. It was a choice of despair, but also a great relief to at least believe as if I was being appreciated, or at least not feeling hated, by a partner of intimacy. It took me eight months to overcome the fact I had submitted so easily into choosing weakness over strength.
I think this stems from insecurity issues. It’s addiction and doesn’t have to apply to food only. I would glutton relentlessly on cannabis, as an escape from things I didn’t know were inside of me. It just felt better to abuse a substance than not. After I began facing my inner demons, gluttony lost it’s power.
I see greed as the fear of losing external power. Once we base our self worth on power over others, be it via financial means or otherwise, we externalize our coolness and break easily when that power is being threatened. Greed can take place on all levels of society, from the homeless fighting over a cigarette, to the leaders of the world fighting over a third nation’s future. Aleppo, Syria would be the most extreme case of 2016.
Sloth or laziness, is a sin I have an issue with, because according to own experiences, it’s clear that people enjoy giving their best to tasks they feel worthy. I would rather call Sloth a lack of motivation, which typically manifests under abusive and/or threatening situations, such as lame bosses, demeaning family members and so forth. Sloth can mature from our lack of ability to set limits, and if these limits are broken at an age before reason, it can become a lifetime trait. Bullied kids can become “sloths” at school, to name one unfair example.
Check out Brene Brown’s views on setting boundaries:
This has entitlement mentality written all over it. We allow ourselves to become angry when our surroundings don’t meet our expectations. Probably my strongest weakness at this time in my personal development and ties strictly into a certain childhood episode and the fact I am weak at placing clear boundaries in communication. I often end up resolving to wrath to get my point across, as it is sometimes what it takes to be heard / understood. Wrath is nevertheless a weak person’s choice. The opposite of wrath would be Nelson Mandela, to name one. Rejection has often been my primary source of Wrath fuel.
This sin is the perfect excuse for people that lack something in their lives and choose to spend their time looking down at others, in place of working out solutions to grow out of their own issues. As a musician, I’ve often felt this bad feeling inside when I see young musicians excel into appreciation, because now I’m Forty years old and I know that I never got paid, because I didn’t have the courage to ask for it. A catastrophical envy would be when two people fight over the love of the same person and escalate the situation into murder. Or revenge over an ex, by taking the lives of their children.
Pride comes before the fall they say. I often ask myself why life keeps kicking my face when I feel like I’m awesome. That is because I have been placing my current worth on past victories, breathing the pride of my past. A prime example would be the first fight Conor McGregor lost in the UFC. He had become vague on his winner tactics and didn’t humble him enough like before, got caught up in his greatness and became a sloth on his warrior path. “Nothing fails like success.” – Robin Sharma.
So how can we turn these sins into virtues?
This is where the self development path becomes annoying, because it requires a great deal of responsibility to accept one’s own shortcomings. It requires a great deal of humility to accept the wrongs we’ve done and a great deal of forgiveness to accept the wrong doings of others.
Lust <=> Chastity.
Chastity, or the denial of sex is in my opinion, the greatest victory a man can have, because that basic urge is so strong, it can mean the difference between a windy mind that can’t fall asleep and a great night’s rest. It is possible to channel sexual energy into other areas of life, I have heard, but currently, I’m still stuck in the robotic response mentality. My testicles get filled up more and more, and without letting it out, I get agitated, because I lack the necessary self discipline to use the greatest male energy there is, to claim victory over other areas of my life. The denial of sex can render weak men homicidal. I’m not sure how it works for women, but I’ve certainly been on the recieving end of that frustration and it sucks and makes women unattractive to me. Just go and get a v******* and let me play my guitar honey!
Gluttony <=> Responsibility.
It’s hard to fight addiction and that fight is usually lost at the end. By taking responsibility for the microsteps we need to walk, before we can close the door on addiction, gluttony looses power over time. It is possible to overcome gluttony for good and it requires a whole lot of patience from the glutton, as well as one’s own loved ones. Lack of understanding and support can render responsibilty a near impossible task, in my own personal experience.
I wrote a post earlier, called “How To Get Your Children Successfully To Rehab And Recovery.”
Greed <=> Charity.
This one was simple to overcome, but very hard. It required me to be humiliated by homelessness for so long that it nearly got the best of me, many times. Once you’ve lost everything and get back on your feet from a place of nothing but the love of those that truly love you, greed becomes silly. Give more than you get and enjoy the fruit of that labour. It doesn’t have to be money, because that would kill you from hunger, but instead, try and imagine everything we do and say having worth. If you’re rich, you don’t have to share money, but you can share love and understanding. If you’re broke, you don’t have to share love and understanding, but you can share time. And so forth. I sometimes just act as if I’m listening when I don’t have the energy to help a person that needs to talk.
Sloth <=> Activities.
I frequently visit the clean/sober gathering place in Århus, Denmark. They have many pictures of their football teams, cups and medals. Just the other day, the homeless lost a football into the streets and I kicked it back. These people were having a good morning, kicking a ball. If your life is stuck in the dark, just take a walk. It has been proven by science, that any kind of exercise grows braincells. Yes, brand new ones up until the age of eighty, according to something I read somewhere. (Once this blog becomes a business, I plan to hire a researcher to make sure you get the best advice from here.)
Check out this Inside Quest episode with John Ratey for a great explanation:
And more here from Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret:
Wrath <=> Coolness.
Emotional stability is key here. Once that bad feeling arises, it’s very important to silence it at birth, so it doesn’t become your judgement and inspiration for choices that prevent good opportunties in the future. Meditation can help a lot and the so called practice of mindfulness, which basically means, according to my understanding, allowing yourself to feel how you’re really feeling, what posture you’re holding and so forth. This can be elevated through simple things such as posture. One of my strongest weaknessess when facing rejection, I just hide it very well. 😉
Amy Cuddy explains the power of posture very well, with science to back her up:
Envy <=> Celebration.
The root to envy has been explained above. By celebrating other people’s success, we rid ourselves of a massive anchor. We furthermore display a charitable personality which inspires other people to share the message of us being cool. By celebrating other people’s success, we build the stage for our own success. It takes a long time and feels unappreciated, but hang in there, people talk about other people, so make sure they share a good message about you.
Pride <=> Gratitude.
Our past victories are long gone and can never indicate more than what we could do back then. The world and the people in it change and some of the worst examples of pride, are political leaders that live on old fame, but fall into sloth and just expect the masses to follow them because they used to be great. The same goes for all of us. After I began deleting pride, I realized that every day was a new opportunity, for new things that would be built upon old victories, but never the proof that I had grown into fullness. I’m not proud of being a kick ass blues guitarist, I’m greatful I am, because it makes other styles, such as Oriental and African, easier to master faster, as these three, the Blues, African and Oriental music are more than often based on the so called pentatonic scale, which you can hear by playing the black keys on a piano.
Or as explained so masterfully by the late and great Bobby McFerrin 🙂
I have barely begun scratching the surface of a certain journey here. I want to find out what our most common weaknesses are and how to turn them into growth opportunities. My goal is to define a skill set, a method, that anyone can use to turn any negativity into a positivity. Which is why I dig into already sorted out ideas, such as the Seven Deadly Sins, because I’m merely a messenger and not a creator.
Thank you for reading and may today bring peace, love and understanding to you and yours,