I Melted the Trash Can…

Question: Can you have deeper thoughts or “core thoughts” that run your life. I think I realized recently that I have a main thought that says “If I do good things, I’m a good person” (which conversely would mean “If I do bad things, I’m a bad person”).

My Mom recently came to town and wanted to see my 15-year old daughter on her birthday. L-O-N-G story short, we had to pick up my daughter at my ex-wife’s house. My Mom smokes – so she sat outside and smoked. After she was finished, she handed me her cigarette to stub out on the ground (which I did) and then – because I didn’t want to trash up my ex’s yard – I threw it away in her trash bin. Then we take my daughter out to dinner. During dinner, my daughter gets a call asking “Did we throw something flammable into the trash can” – because it became a bonfire. I guess I didn’t stub out the cigarette enough and it caught some grease on fire in the trash can – and it melted their huge plastic city trash can. They had to use 2 fire extinguishers and a water hose to finally put it out. Obviously, I apologized … paid for the trash can and fire extinguisher replacement … and on and on. It wasn’t a fun experience for any of us.

That was a mistake. And logically, I get that “humans makes mistakes”. I’m a human being having a human experience of sometimes making mistakes. However, I still can’t shake the memory of that feeling of “Because I made that mistake, I am a bad person”. And since then, I’ve been really thinking about my life – and how I’ve REALLY tried to only do “good things” (or do very few things) so that I minimize the “bad things” that I do. I’ve seen how I judge everything I do as “good” or “bad” – to make sure the scales are WAY more good than bad. More good than bad = I’m a good person.

What’s weird is that my Mom was talking to a few of my friends after the trash can incident – and she said “Yes, I have two sons and he (pointing to me) is my good son. My sister tells me how weird is it that I got one that’s so good and one that’s so bad.” It made me realize that ever since I was a kid, I really have tried to “be the good kid” – and that’s kind of how the family sees me. “The good kid”. But obviously, only because I’ve tried to do “good” things.

This feels like one of those really in-your-marrow beliefs that directs all of my actions and probably keeps me from taking any action that could be seen as “bad”. And as an entrepreneur – especially with the Internet – I believe you have to be willing to be labeled as “bad” (or whatever anyone wants to label you) in order to achieve things. I think I’ve played small and quietly – because I don’t want to be labeled as “bad” – so I don’t feel bad.

Any thoughts on how to undo this type of thinking? Maybe “there are no bad humans” (hard for me to believe just yet) or “I am a human” or… I dunno. I just see this as something that’s guided me my entire life and it feels like if I can change or erase this thought entirely – things would open up a bit more. (Of course, there’s also the accompanying fear that I won’t get approval from people for being ‘good’ – so it feels like there’s lots of layers here). Any thoughts on this? Thanks!