So what’s your guilty pleasure? Is it a particular food? A television program? Or maybe it’s shopping online. Whatever it is, it’s definitely something you feel a teen tiny bit ashamed of admitting – that’s why we call it a “guilty pleasure”.
Guilty pleasures are nothing more than places we find pleasure in our lives with things others would judge as “bad” or “wrong”, and maybe, we even judge ourselves.
But what makes it bad or wrong? Often times, it’s because when we think of it, it’s preceded by the thought, “I know I shouldn’t”.
But here’s another thought. What if nothing you enjoyed were bad or wrong? I’m not talking about harming ourselves or another person, I’m talking about those things in our lives we have trouble giving ourselves permission to feel good about because some part of us has judged them.
If, for just a moment, we could suspend our judgement, and be totally present with the thing we’ve deemed wrong, what might we feel? What might you discover?
Back in my twenties, I was a compulsive overeater. This meant I restricted my caloric intake, but secretly wished to eat anything I wanted and as much as I wanted. When I was alone, and often at night or on the weekend after I restricted myself long enough, something inside me went a little animalistic and grabbed for the nearest bag of chocolate chip cookies. And I wouldn’t just eat one or two. I’d eat the whole bag long after my hunger was gone.
Part of the desperation behind the act had to do with imprisoning such restriction upon myself and denying myself any freedom that, eventually, I went “a little nuts”. An eating disorder is all about control. I was trying to control my carefree side by being responsible.
The problem is we can never deny any part of ourselves for very long before it comes out with a vengeance.
The part of us that gets angry, that cries, that laughs with abandonment, that is carefree, and that experiences pleasure through the senses is the feminine energy within us. And if she is denied in favor of responsibility, logic, practicality, and “being good” (whatever that means for you), well, then she gets a little angry to say the least.
And she’ll let you know by becoming reactive.
Pleasure is not something to be denied. Spontaneity is not something that destroys. And sensuality is not evil. Only our judgement makes it so.
A Course in Miracles reminds us, “Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God.” It also tells us, “Miracles arise from a state of miracle readiness and the acceptance of the Atonement.” The atonement in A Course in Miracles is the correction of the false sense of isolation, lack, and deprivation.
Deprivation of the good things in life, of the “guilty pleasures”, does not make you a more spiritual person. Nor does it earn you good grades in the school of saints.
In fact, when you deny yourself the things that feel good to your being, you deny yourself of God.
Does this mean you should overeat, overdrink, overshop, over-anything? No.
Because the reality is, overindulgence is the opposite of pleasure. Pleasure is being involved in the sensation of something. Overindulgence keeps you out of the experience by avoiding the moment.
Eating a whole bag of cookies was not pleasurable. It was punishing. I wasn’t loving myself in that moment. In fact, I was rebelling against all I had denied.
In the end, the only real “guilty pleasure” is judgement and shame.
And there is no pleasure in that.
Real pleasure comes from experiencing the gift of the moment through the senses– whether that is eating a piece of chocolate, laughing at ridiculous sitcom, or feeling sexy in a silky robe – all without our judgement.
Eventually, if we suspend our opinions long enough, we discover what really brings us joy. And then we can give ourselves all the pleasure without the guilt.
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