Thursday, October 01, 2015

Involuntary Decency

This one's as much a question as an answer: Does anyone else ever get a peculiar feeling of intense shame and frustration when you give up and decide to indulge in a bad habit you've been trying to be disciplined about, only to have circumstances conspire to prevent you from doing so? And if so, is there a word for that? I think it happens to everyone--you get so sick of your diet that you decide to go pig out on pizza, but the restaurant is closed. Or you decide to pick up a new book or game despite a tight budget, only to find out that it's out of stock.

To me, it always seems like the worst of both worlds--you have the shame of knowing that you don't have the willpower to resist temptation, but you don't get the compensation of actually having whatever it is you didn't have the willpower to resist. It's got to be the worst flavor of guilt out there, really. (In case anyone's worried, it was a very mild case today--I was planning on ordering out for lunch, but I left it too late and wound up deciding not to. It was less "circumstances" and more "my own personal laziness" conspiring to make me do the right thing.)

That said, I'd love to know if there was a word for it. Probably the Germans have something, even if it is thirty syllables long; they're good with giving names to obscure moods and feelings. You'd think that French would be the champion language for that, but what have they ever given us besides ennui?

...sorry, that should read, "What have they ever given us besides 'ennui'?" Big difference there. In any event, if you know the word for this feeling, or even if you just want to join me in disliking it, feel free to do so in the comments.

1 comment:

Jim S said...

No. In my case I have either the good or bad luck, depending on your point of view, of having that pizza available, or that Captain America statue that costs $150 at the store when I am there.

I suspect that if I were denied for whatever reason, I'd think I dodged a bullet. What's interesting for me is that my counterproductive desires are less frequent. I now have to motivate myself to do positive things - take that evening walk for excerise, do those nightly push-ups.