The Lie of Being Good

I am a fifty-two-year-old woman who has spent most of her life being what the majority of people would consider to be a ‘good’ person. I have spent thirty years working with people with severe intellectual disabilities, a job that without fail draws gasps of admiration and praise from anyone that discovers what I do for a living.

My second job for the last twenty years has been as a yoga teacher and I know that when people hear about my second job they tend to naturally believe that I am helping others to be fit and well, whilst also supporting them to consider the deeper aspects of life. We all assume certain things about others based on our beliefs about what’s good and what’s bad, but what if good and bad don’t really exist? What if good and bad are figments of our imagination, conjured up out of our own connotations about what each word means?

As well as doing both my jobs I have always tried to help others out as best as I could. I have always strived to be a ‘good person’:  this started from a really young age with me trying hard both at school and at home to be a ‘good’ girl. I knew who the ‘naughty’ kids were and I definitely didn’t want to be one of them. At home I would help Mum by doing things around the house; I really wanted my Mum and Dad to see me as being a ‘good girl’. Being good became part of my identity and I never for one moment considered that there could possibly be any harm in being good.

As an adult, I would offer to babysit for my friend’s kids without them asking and I always tried to be as helpful as possible to everyone. Once a week I would race to a local hospice, having just finished a night shift and help out for a couple of hours before racing back across town to teach a yoga class, fervently believing that I was doing nothing but good.

My partner and I have sponsored a child abroad for the last thirty years and I have given both my money and my time to animal charities, staunchly believing that if only more people gave money to charity then we would eventually be able to address all of the imbalances and injustices in the world.

I can remember being fairly young when I rather anxiously asked my Dad if there were more ‘good’ people in the world than ‘bad’ and feeling a wave of relief when he said that there were. I bought into the belief that ‘if only there were more good people in the world then the world would be a better place’. But what I have come to realise is, as with all beliefs, this belief is not true and the reason for that is that ‘being good’ is not a true way of being.

I put an enormous amount of effort into being good, as opposed to simply just being me and this I did because like most kids, I was acknowledged more for what I did than for who I was. I was seen for being sporty, trying hard and being popular with the boys but equally, there were those who were seen for not being good at sport, dropping out in class and being ‘users’ when it came to relationships. We all had our identities but none of them had anything to do with the truth of who any of us were and everything to do with the external mechanics of how we looked and what we did.

Looking back I can see that even though I was heavily invested in being seen as being good – that what actually mattered was being seen as being something and in fact, pretty much anything would have done. This I know because over the many subsequent years the characteristics that I have been known for have changed many, many times. The array of identities that I have had has included being a very hard and aggressive person, a rather wild risk-taker, an overtly ‘nice’ person, a deeply ‘spiritual’ person, a vegetarian animal rights kind of a person, a dance party chick plus a multitude of other interchangeable personalities. Looking back I feel like one of those cut-out paper dolls that came with a whole wardrobe of different cut out paper outfits and throughout my life, I simply kept switching the different looks.

What I have come to feel in recent years is that there are many, many things in life that are not as they seem. In fact, they are in many ways the direct opposite of what they purport to be. I can categorically say that there was not an ounce of any true good in any of the ‘good’ things that I did, and not only that, my so-called ‘good deeds’ actually added to the very things that I was trying to eradicate because how I was being was not true – for all intents and purposes – it was an act even though I would have sworn blind that it was me.

The most significant contribution that I could have made to any of the causes, people and events that I gave my time to was Me, the real undoctored Me – but I didn’t, I took the tampered with version of Mini-Me wherever I went, the ‘Trying To Be Good Me’, the ‘Trying To ‘Be Calm Me’, the ‘Trying To Be Selfless Me’, the ‘Trying To Do The Right Thing Me’. I, therefore, walked dishonesty into every situation that I was involved in because I didn’t have to try to be me, in fact trying to be anything other than me will always take me away from simply just being me. And to add that I now know that by simply just being me, I silently encourage others to also just be themselves, which in many ways is the most valuable thing that I can ever do for anyone.

In recent years my beliefs around the concepts of ‘being good, being benevolent and being kind’ have crumbled away as violently as an unstable rockface and I have been left standing and looking around me, questioning all beliefs for their validity in truth. As I stand in the rubble of the rockface, what has been revealed to me is a woman who is deeply embedded in the beauty of life, a woman who understands that true caring comes through us and not from us, and a woman who can see and appreciate the innate beauty in us all.

So I have dropped the act of being good, I have let go of any intention of being kind and I certainly don’t believe that if only there were more good people in the world then the world would be a better place.

What I now know to be true is that all that’s needed is for me to be myself, the real and true me that I was born as – free of pictures, free of any ideals and free of any notion about who I should be or who I would like to be. The absolute simplicity of who I innately am is more than enough, in fact, it gets grander and grander by the day.

By Alexis Stewart, team leader of an amazing team, mother of a beautiful boy, partner to a man who keeps revealing more and more of his incredibly delicate nature, an absolute lover of people and of Life, Sydney, Australia

Further Reading:
Giving your power away: Why being good doesn’t work
Discovering my True Strength – Being the Delicate Woman I am
Our Charities – How charitable are they?

31 thoughts on “The Lie of Being Good

  1. “The absolute simplicity of who I innately am is more than enough, in fact, it gets grander and grander by the day”. Beautifully expressed Alexis, the simplicity of it all, and I see in myself the complication of feeling It can’t be that simple, yet in fact this is exactly what it is. slowly it is dawning on me the simple truth of just being me, is all that life is truly about.

  2. Whatever ‘good’ we can perform is a try to fix the outside (imposition) or a try to be anything but who we are (denial), and any of this is clearly not good but abusive with others and ourselves.

    1. Amparo the word ‘perform’ really stood out for me and highlighted the fact that whenever we feel like we have to ‘perform’ anything then we are not being who we already are and as we are already everything that we can ever be then ‘performing’ anything will always diminish the grandness of who we already are.

  3. We seem to get used to allowing something else to run our life and the way we live without consciously reflecting on our choices. The moment we reflect is usually the moment when what we have been living is not working anymore and within this timeframe we have already lost who we truly are and the label we have chosen e.g. “Good person’ then comes in very handy. Simple stop moments to check-in can bring us back to what is true and who we truly are, the ‘doing’ will then happen free of the old labels we have felt comfortable in.

  4. Reading your blog Alexis I can feel how hung up we all are on ideals and beliefs and especially around ‘being good’ and like you ‘I put an enormous amount of effort into being good’. It all makes such sense when I realise how often I would feel really uncomfortable in my body around other people being good and yet I had not got to the point of self realisation. Now my understanding has changed and when I can be true that feels quite different – being true to what I feel deep down in my essence.

    1. There is something in what you have said here Joseph about the miss use of words and how we have manipulated words away from their true meaning or origin.

  5. Reading this brings forth the understanding that it is the way we conduct our lives and the reason behind what we do that can either bring true evolution or the perceived good that reveals the many intentions that drive us to gain some form of recognition, with little or no true understanding and discerning of what is truly required for those the good is being done for.

  6. A great article Alexis, i always love the honesty that comes through in your articles. I have been caught up in the good most of my life, I thought it was a safe place to be in, a place where I could hide, gradually the lies of the good have been exposed as I gained more understanding, and in that connected to and experience more of my true self, the good is a fabricator of the truth of who we really are.

    1. Jill I love how you describe being good as a ‘safe place to be in’ because it is, who’s gonna come looking for liars in the bunker of good? Answer ‘no one because they’re all too busy looking under the umbrella of bad’!

  7. 1. “We all had our identities but none of them had anything to do with the truth of who any of us were…” I am still breaking this down also Alexis, I have recently seen so clearly how I have been a ‘helper’, a way to do good, often based on sympathy and the accompanying pictures of how life is ‘supposed’ to be. Like yourself it began by being urged to be a ‘good girl’ as a child during a family crisis, and I have since remembered how I overrode my natural essence to be ‘good’ which was something other than my natural impulse at the time. The whole concept of good and bad to me is so judgemental, it negates the beauty we all are and the innate expression we have from our inner being with all it’s precious qualities. Good and bad is a very clever way to reduce people because it can appeal to our decency. What I am learning is being love contains no good or bad, and it may or may not respond to a situation that I would normally want to ‘help’ in. Great topic, and as always much appreciation for your gorgeous, raw and honest expression.

    1. Melinda when I read your comment the word ‘decency’ really stood out to me, I struggle to really know what ‘decency’ means. It’s such an arbitrary term because one person’s idea of what constitutes decency may be quite different to anothers, which leads me to ponder whether or not there is any truth in the word decency or is it another red herring, much like to concept of good and bad?

      1. Alexis it’s a good question you have made here. I know decency based on a quality someone expresses with, and a basic standard of integrity that a person will not fall below in their treatment of their fellow human beings. In a world where so many versions of words exist, for me it boils down to the energetic quality.

  8. Alexis I agree with you when you say ‘The absolute simplicity of who I innately am is more than enough, in fact, it gets grander and grander by the day.’ Every day I discover that there is more to me and every day I wonder what else I’m going to discover about myself that I have hidden away in the misguided belief, supported by my family, that no one could possibly be interested in me. I realise it doesn’t matter what people think of me because they don’t know me. I know me and I am constantly blown away by my daily discoveries. I am full of a richness of beauty which isn’t easily described, this is my very essence, and we all have the same essence just waiting to be rediscovered. There is nothing that matters more to me now than my own delicious essence, it is akin to the pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow.

  9. I love this. There are no better jobs, good jobs, benevolent jobs etc. when we start to see that wherever we work we can bring love through being ourselves. This takes away the focus from what we do and brings it back to where it belongs, the quality of our being.

    1. We all have the potential to be siphons for God whether or not we’re serving in a bakery, sweeping roads, number crunching, working in the Stock Exchange, it doesn’t matter, the job, the person, their title, their heritage, their skin colour, non of it matters. Move in a particular way and God is guaranteed to come through you and that is that. Being good is a movement that’s out of sync with God’s rhythm, so far from helping it’s gonna actually get in the way of being a conduit for God.

  10. Being so called good is possibly the furthest thing away from being Godly, as at-least the liar and cheat admits they are no where near being Truth-full in what they do, as this is recognisable in the way my life was unfolding before Universal Medicine for being nice never was cutting the mustard.

    1. Yep I agree Greg I had a number of impenetrable beliefs that sort of incased me, all of which centred around the fact that I was absolutely convinced that what I was doing and who I was being was truthful, honourable and ultimately helpful. How wrong I was.

  11. Oh, my, have I been there, worn the T shirt on being a good girl most of my life and a few other permutations besides. What a relief to just be myself and start to build a greater consistency in my life and a much more stable way to be with others too.

  12. Spending time with my young son, I often find myself inadvertently exclaiming ‘good boy’ in response to something he has done. It’s so ingrained in us to try to design a life we would prefer instead of appreciating God’s magnificent composition that already exists.

  13. Good is based on the presumption that there are things that are bad. But bad only exists when we don’t truly read what the universe has planned. When we can appreciate (it’s not always easy) that so called disasters and harmful behaviours reflect something crucial we need to learn – we may start to appreciate that everything here is designed to support us to return to love. Now that is grand! Thanks Alexis for this sharing and seemless reminder.

  14. I love what you have exposed here Alexis and how many ideals and beliefs we have around being good nice etc. None of them being our true amazing selves in our Essence connected to our Souls and to simply live from there.

  15. Thanks you Alexis – I can very much relate to what you have shared here. The words ‘true caring comes through us and not from us’ resonate very deeply. Renouncing the ideal of being good is not a decision to rebel but a realisation that as you clearly state, ‘the good girl’ – and in my case ‘the good boy’ is a character or role we take on – but is not who we are. In the alignment to the truth of our being an essence or quality flows through us that is not built on the desire to seek approval or recognition from others…or from God…but to simply allow that innately caring nature to flow unfettered though us. And that is a very beautiful thing to experience – and a truly loving gift to offer.

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