Painfully aware of cheating ourselves

We're not usually aware of cheating ourselves when we're facing an opportunity that won't last. The short window gives us a short-sighted and narrowed perspective. Our snap judgment fails to take into the consideration the ways we might be cheating ourselves in the long run or in the bigger context. Our tunnel vision rules out the big picture with its panorama of possible reverberations, ramifications and repercussions of our conduct.

When we're aware of the ways we may end up cheating ourselves, we stay out of trouble. Cheating looks like a losing proposition or a stupid game to play. We stop kidding ourselves or falling for delusions of grandeur. There's no free lunch, easy out or escape from the ordeal. We face the music and take responsibility for the long term effects of our conduct. A well designed system to eliminate cheating merely nurtures this awareness. We realize how we may be cheating ourselves from the support provided by the system.

Here's some of the most dramatic ways we end up regretting our expedient choices to cheat others at no cost to ourselves:
  • Karmic justice: We may discover our conduct boomerangs and catches us from behind. What we dished out becomes something to ingest as a taste of our own medicine. We sadly reap what we have sown and cannot escape how it comes back around. We're haunted by the ways we mistreated others or took advantage of them. We pay the price for doing harm, exploiting situations or acting selfishly that we presumed could be done with impunity.
  • Sunlight on the vampire: We may discover we suddenly cast a shadow and see a reflection in the mirror. We no longer can devour other's vitality with our insatiable appetite for power, dominance or control. We are faced with what we have become, how we appear to others and what we assumed was exclusively "their problem". We are followed by what we rejected, ruled out, and dismissed at "not me". Our arrogance and vindictiveness is defeated by shattering realizations of what's missing, forsaken and bereft in our lives.
  • Bursting our bubble: We lose confidence in our convictions about our fate, past experiences and recent conduct. We go from being certainly right to proven wrong. We lose faith in our ability to judge how sorry to feel for ourselves, how much sympathy to expect from others and how pitiful to act about what's happened to us. We feel we cannot reliably sort out what's respectable, fair or considerate of others. We're awash in a sea of guilt, despair and dread about what likes ahead.
  • Hitting bottom: We may discover we have fallen down a slippery slope. We confidently took a step and lost our footing on solid ground. We find ourselves at the end of our rope, with nowhere else to turn. We got tangled in a web of deceits, justifications and cover-ups. We feel for some temptation that lured us into heroics, noble sacrifices or spectacular payoffs that failed to materialize. We've been played for the fool and gamed by the system that feeds on indulgent players.
Happily we do not need to go down these roads ourselves. We can learn from stories and others' experiences that a well-designed system keeps in our awareness. We can realize the consequences that we're faced by others apply to our lives as well. We can connect the dots between our expedient opportunities and the long range outcomes of the indulgent choice. We see how we will end up cheating ourselves before we make the move.

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