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Ignorance is Bliss?

I’m not sure why we do stupid things. Usually, we don’t realise it was stupid until after it’s done. It can be something silly like indulging on a huge ice-cream after dinner and suddenly realising that you’ve over-eaten; or having a little too much to drink on a work night; or kissing a person who you know is just bad news. 

Time tends to help us get over these ills quite quickly. But doing something a little more severe: breaking a promise or someone’s confidence; betraying a trust. These are things that can’t easily be undone.

If doing stupid things were an Olympic sport, I would probably be in line for a medal. I’ve done some amazingly stupid things in my life, of course, I only see that in retrospect. And usually, just when I think my stupidity is over, I do something stupid to celebrate it. What is the way forward? 

Psychologists seems to think it’s an internal self-destruct button, waiting for things to go well so that it can stuff it all up… but I don’t like to over-simplify.

What I find most alarming is that our heads know when something is stupid – and often we choose to judge people who do the same things quite harshly, and yet forgive ourselves a little more slowly. Telling a lie, for example. I do, from time to time, elaborate or provide alternate endings to the truth. I’m sure (or at least I hope it’s the case) we all do. The worst feeling is knowing that you may get caught. It's only made worse when you see the ‘click’ in someone’s eyes the moment they have caught you. Your stomach sinks through the floorboards as you desperately double-back your words and try your utmost to cram two completely opposite ends of a story into one feasible version… Oh boy.

And then you realise: ‘I’m an intelligent person, a grown-up, a good person etc etc etc… I shouldn’t have to lie about anything or explain myself to anyone.’ Which is liberating for the three split seconds it takes to get over that one emotion and move onto the next: ‘If I am such a good person, shouldn’t I feel guilty about the lie?’ And you don’t feel guilty. In fact, it was kind of fun. And then you feel like a bad person. This feeling may last a little longer than three split seconds. It also usually ends with: ‘Why did I do something so stupid?’ Which brings me full circle.    

Perhaps we need to evaluate the reason behind the stupid action: our motives. It's not as straight forward as bad people do bad things and good people don’t do bad things, because it’s often the case that the most doting wife is the one who is shtooping the neighbour and the most diligent pupil is the one selling dope. When you a confidence is broken, it is seldom done out of spite; more often than not, it's pure carelessness. While the ramifications of a broken trust or a lie that started out innocently and then snowballed may be far-reaching; the heart behind the action is what counts.

In my case, stupid actions are often an outlet for frustrations or a sign of something else that’s awry. I act out when, internally, I’m uncertain or unhappy. For example: I do stupid things because I hate my job and my inner-saboteur wants to get me fired. My boss frowns upon drinking and so I gush about all the wine we tasted in France. I wonder how many other people suffer the same ailment? It would be a great deal easier if I would simply cry, or again with the work example, simply resign. But that would be too straightforward and stupidity is a lot more amusing. For about three split seconds, that is. 

Who knows, maybe it’s healthy to make mistakes from time to time? Aren't we supposed to learn from them or something? If that is the case, then this blog post right here… this could be the something stupid (and the lesson) for today.      


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