It’s one of those funny things about we humans, our tendency to always push the envelope: food, material things, sex, money, work, etc.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, sometimes pushing it can be good: it can lead to new discoveries, new interests, emotional or intellectual breakthroughs, etc.
But, it seems that often, we humans get caught up in objects or behaviors in an unhealthy, out of control kind of way. We need limits, just like our kids need limits, lest our desires become our individual prisons.
One of the ten adult skills in my REALADULTS acronym is Restraint. I put it first because it’s the most important one.
Take a moment to think hard about your goals and desires. Think about what drives you.
When I was a child growing up in a bilingual family, my parents would often use the word “esagerata”, which means exaggerated, to describe out-of-balance behaviors or desires.
I’ve often thought that the trauma pain a person goes through in their lives can produce wisdom if it doesn’t lead to self-destruction.
My folks were Italian World War II survivors. My late father, born in 1919, faced front-line action and physical and emotional wounds as a combat soldier. My mother was an adolescent girl who hid from Nazi soldiers looking for young Italian girls.
They had some wisdom.
Sometimes they’d talk about parables from the Bible. Other times, they’d share common words of wisdom they’d learned as children in their respective hometowns before the war. Still, at other times, it was just a word, ancient or modern, that they’d share.
Esagerata was one of those words.
Nothing to excess. Balance.
I must’ve been barely five or six years old, if memory serves, when I recall seeing my dad yelling, in Italian of course, at the television after watching the 4th or 5th straight T.V. commercial.
He’d yell that word at the T.V.: “Esagerata!” Too much “selling” in America he’d later explain, once he calmed down. Out of balance, esagerata. (He loved this country by the way, as do I.)
How are we esagerata in our lives? In our marriages? Monetarily? Sexually? Emotionally and behaviorally with our reactivity and impulsivity? With work? With diet and exercise? With our demands of others? With holding grudges or with taking offense too easily? With our lack of forgiveness and our desire for vengeance or vindication? With the amount of control of our lives we wish to have?
The adult skill of Restraint is the natural cure for esagerata.
Good to know, no?
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand a Few Things First)
Lvacnation (google it)