What if there was no such thing as “good” or “bad?”
Many of us grew up learning the very real difference between being “good” and being “bad.” When we behaved in a way that our parents or authority figures wanted us to behave, we were called “good” and were rewarded. When we misbehaved, we were called “bad” and were punished, usually in a way that also felt bad.
Good = reward. Bad = punishment. It makes sense, right? As small children, we needed a way to learn how to flourish in our society and this model, for better or worse, has worked pretty well so far, or when we’re children, at least.
What happens, though, when something that we learned was “good” becomes “bad”—affecting our lives in more detrimental ways that supportive ones?
Always saying yes with a smile may have been a very darling trait for a young girl; endearing to her parents, friends, and teachers. But as an adult with a career, a marriage, and children, this quality now creates loneliness, bitterness, and exhaustion.
For a young boy who grew up with the lesson that “being a good man” meant being emotionless and aggressive, being “tough” meant being “good.” “Stop crying; be a good boy.” But for that same boy who is now a grown adult, some of life’s greatest moments feel shallow. Never learning to acknowledge or validate his emotions has left him without a sense of connection.
This is why labeling anything “good” or “bad” is not only fruitless; it is also inaccurate and even irrelevant. As a mother, I work to never label my children as anything. I have four children, and none of them is the “smart” one, the “funny” one, or the “wild” one. They are just who they are.
The truth is that nothing is “good” or “bad” until we decide that it is. Events, qualities, everything we see is all just energy and energy is inherently neutral. This can easily be proven with the fact that something that is deemed good by one person can be deemed bad by another. Your worst day might be someone else’s dream. What you judge in yourself as a character defect, might actually be your greatest asset. It’s all a matter of perspective and perspective is changeable.
When you let go of what you learned to be good or bad, you shed the constraints of what others want, and you step into a new kind of spiritual liberation. Accepting ourselves exactly as we are is a huge first step in our spiritual growth. It is the beginning of our transformation. And we can’t do it if we’re operating from a set of old, inaccurate ideas about what makes us good or bad.
I’m often met with confusions when I share that being spiritual isn’t being a “good person” or someone everyone likes. There is no such thing as a wholly good nor a wholly bad person; we are all souls making choices every single day. Usually, we make choices that feel good, but just because a choice feels good doesn’t make it so. Likewise, taking a big risk or making a huge leap can feel pretty awful, but it may turn out to be the action you needed to take.
So, let go of those ideas now. I’ll invite you to instead look at things in terms of positive and negative. In Kabbalah, positive energy can be seen as anything that supports our growth and transformation and connects us continually to the Light. Negative energy is seen as anything that creates stagnation or pulls us away from the Light. Neither one is “good” nor “bad,” they are just two opposing forces of energy that we choose between in each moment.
Now that you’ve tossed out the “good” and “bad” labels for the sake of this exercise, look at yourself and your life through this new lens of positive and negative. What areas, relationships, or qualities in your life are encouraging your flow; are encouraging you to change and expand? What areas, relationships, or qualities in your life are keeping you stuck, frustrated, and unhappy? Notice how different this feels. It’s no longer about what you need to do in order to be accepted versus rejected. It’s about what you and your own soul need in order to actualize your potential. Good/Bad is about other people. Positive/Negative is about purpose.
All of us are human beings, and regardless of whether we are succeeding or failing, making mistakes or making huge strides, following rules or bending them, we deserve to be here. We deserve love, compassion, and support simply because we exist. No one can deem us worthy of this; therefore, no one can truly take it away from us. It is only our beliefs that make something true. When we decide to believe something else, our lives change. It all comes down to choice.
Instead of choosing between Good or Bad, try just choosing You instead.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
This week, spend some time journaling about the things you do because you think they’re Good and the things you don’t do because you think they’re Bad. How are these labels affecting you? How do they change when you view them through the perspective of Positive and Negative?