The Slippery Slope

Immediately below are 4 figures. Let me explain and the name of this sequence will soon become all too obvious.




In this first figure, the X is your moral/ethical center based on your values. The circle around it includes the behaviors that you consider to be moral and ethical.

In the second figure the orange X is an action/behavior you begin to engage in. It is not a perfect match, but still within your acceptable range of principled behavior.

Over time this orange behavior becomes pretty much a norm, and slowly becomes your new center. The orange circle and most likely the black remain the new realm that you consider moral and ethical.

Taking this one step further, the red X is a new behavior you begin doing which falls within your revised acceptable moral/ethical circle. But you will notice how that behavior now falls outside of your original moral/ethical circle. And just by looking at this graphic, you can no doubt see how the infamous slippery slope is formed.

Should the Red X become your new center, you will continue to drift further away from living the values you once professed were sacred to you. After about one more iteration, your new moral/ethical circle will fall completely outside of your original one. Hmm, how might you feel about that?

This slide from living our true values is not intentional, it just kind of seductively sneaks up on us. We are not bad or evil people; we are all just imperfect. So, we take a little more comfortable path, and fall short of the meaningful standards we originally set for ourselves. It is tough to stay centered. Unfortunately, we all can likely confess times when we slipped and discovered we were suddenly acting in a way that did not feel quite right for us.

So, the reminder is to occasionally stop, take a breath, and deeply reflect on your values and how you are doing in living them. You might also ask for feedback about your actions from others. Deep down you may know that you are slipping a little, but you just can’t bring yourself to admit it… at least enough to halt the slide. Some encouragement from others might just be the nudge you need.

All the best and stay centered.

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