Conscience as a Sign of Health

1288 Relax and Succeed - Photo - Someone feeling badly

If just before you started reading this you were using your thinking to criticize yourself, this your chance to stop.

Those thoughts don’t improve us even if we did screw up because it’s not the screw up that’s really the issue, it’s our thoughts about it. Those are after-the-fact thoughts about the past. If it’s in the past that can only be ego and egos are dangerous. You have to keep an eye on them.

The fact that we don’t feel good about whatever transpired is only because we already know we could have done better. That demonstrates that we are good people with good judgment because our judgment was able to detect something out of alignment with the range that we use to define our self.

If we let it, our negative reaction to exceeding those limits is what, over time, nudges us closer and closer to being able to live out our greatest potential. This is the process of getting wiser.

This is the point at which many people suggest that we need rules to be ‘good.’ But if they’re saying that they usually mean they want alignment with whatever they think everyone should do. But that’s impossible because we can’t all demand that. While rules can be useful, they aren’t needed to define ‘good.’

Everyone except psychopaths is familiar with the hounding a human conscience can give us. Many of us adults still feel badly about things we did as youngsters. But what is our conscience?

Think of it like an old fashioned thermometer. Humans are good from about +60C to -60C, (or -76F to 140F). Above or below that and we’re in enough trouble we’re likely to die. Our conscience is like a range of things that our real self –the self that creates our ego– has for our behaviour. That part of us is very wise –except for in psychopaths. They don’t have lines that are further out than ours, they don’t have any lines at all. The rest of us have healthy lines for a very logical reason.

1288 Relax and Succeed - Photo - Even huge mistakes

We as individuals are a part of a much larger flow created by our species. We’re all ultimately programmed to try to stay alive and see the next generation move on. Since we breed we obviously need others to do that, plus working in groups is safer than working alone, so our nature is to find ways to cooperate.

All of us can temporarily lose track of that connection when our thinking gets crazy, but our nature is to work to stay alive, not work to destroy what we need to stay alive; including others and their support.

Even huge mistakes are just ways of learning, growing, and maturing. Sometimes we inflict ours on others, sometimes they inflict theirs on us; sometimes we are teachers, sometimes we are students. Sometimes the universe benefits from regret, sometimes it benefits from tolerance.

Our ability to understand that flow of pain and regret in a non-personal way is the lesson we are all unwittingly teaching each other through the living our lives. And it’s also why many wise people have said, when you finally become a real guru you realize that everyone around us, has always been a guru.

peace. s

MoK: Marching For Peace

Yesterday’s act of kindness was an important one. I’d like to think all of you participated in being kind to yourselves even though that often feels difficult and unnatural. It’s a shame we’ve constructed society in such a way that we find something that healthy to feel that unnatural. Similarly, it’s a shame we find making amends with others difficult to the point where, if it happens, it’s usually only half-intentional. Today is about becoming fully intentional.

As the old saying goes, except for a few cases in life, you’re better to be happy than be right. Being right implies that the other person must be wrong. This reinforces that subject-object division between you and the rest of the world with which you are otherwise naturally unified.

The separation between you is strictly made of thought–it’s made of your beliefs about what is right and wrong, and about your perceptions of what really happened. In addition, let’s face it, we all have those examples where, deep down, we actually know that we’re at minimum complicit in the confusion, if not entirely at fault.

In some cases we even feel guilty, even though we still come across as defensive about the issue. What hurts is that we are good people, and so when that happens we know our words and actions lacked respect or integrity. We feel that lack of responsibility as the pain that leads to our defensiveness.

Our job on todays assignment for The March of Kindness is for us to find one of these examples and to let it go. Even better if we can actually settle the disagreement formally, and the ultimate goal would be to apologise–even if it’s for something small. The point is, if it requires real effort and challenge then we’re overcoming something and we’re benefitting along with the person we’re apologising to or forgiving.

Find your example, examine your reactions and your behaviour and really come to a better understanding about how your personal, ego-based motivations overrode your natural integrity and personal nature. Reinforce your own goodness in this way. Maybe you say something, maybe you don’t. Maybe you write something, or send a card or email or even a text. Maybe you just stop being passive-aggressive towards them.

Even if your apology or forgiveness or act of letting go is silent, or even if it’s done with full knowledge that the other person really was in the “wrong,” make this an active and meaningful act of kindness. This isn’t just about you, it’s about the world. It’s about the other person and about creating more peace within one or both of you.

By accepting our responsibilities to create peace we also gain empowerment over our actions. By being able to forgive or apologise, we become more expansive and capable, and by letting go of our disagreements and grudges, we not only free ourselves, but we all make an important contribution to there being less discord and more harmony in the world. And after all, that is the entire point of The March of Kindness.

Thanks for your participation. Much love.

peace. s

The Universal Apology

949 Relax and Succeed - Forgiveness is the best formEveryone’s done stuff they wish they hadn’t. Lots of it. Life’s tricky. We feel stressed, we get tired, hungry, we misunderstand things or we’re coming from a place of pain or fear and we just say or do the wrong thing.

Sometime’s our focus is so riveted on something else that we’re oblivious to fact that we’re causing serious damage. It’s not like we meant to–and even if we did we felt justified at the time. But there’s just some things we don’t feel good about. We cannot think of them and feel okay, and yet we will have foregone the chance to make a connection through an apology so, while we may not be suffering, we’re also not expanding our capacity for love and connection.

This post will be the universal apology. The one from all of us to all of us. Because no matter when it was, anyone who isn’t a sociopath or psychopath has wanted to give one of these to a lot of people. That doesn’t make us bad people, it just shows that we’re people and that the badness or goodness is really just another judgment. So if you’re really stuck because you can’t figure out how to apologise to someone, you can always just send them this.

 

To Whom It Did Concern,

How do you even start an apology for something as terrible as I did to you? I don’t really see myself as a bad person but if I look at what’s gone on there is no way to excuse myself. I recognise that I was not behaving in a way that makes me feel good about myself as a person.

949 Relax and Succeed - The past cannot be changedDeep down I believe everyone deserves to be treated well, but what happened to you has shown me that I am obviously capable of getting so focused on what I perceive as my personal problems that I forget I might be being a very big problem for someone else. It’s like I felt I was on a ocean and I was thrashing because I was sinking, but I forgot that the ocean itself is made of people trying to stay afloat. It was selfish and I’m sorry. I thrashed you and there’s no way for me to take it back.

I suppose the pain of that knowledge is what sears this into my memory. I’m certain I’ll hurt people in all kinds of dumb ways because I’m human, but I don’t want to hurt anyone ever again the way I hurt you. I’m not even going to promise I can do that, but I’m going to put everything I have available into succeeding because it’s important to me; because you’re pain was and is important to me.

It seems amazing to ask you for a favour after being so selfish and hurtful to you but I do actually need one. I’m gonna work on this change really hard but if I’m honest I have a feeling that it’ll only be natural to be bunny-hopping two steps forward and one back for a while. So if you could extend a bit of forgiveness on those backward steps as I work on being more loving and generous in my relations I would appreciate that. Even if you can’t; I fully respect why and I’ll still give the commitment my all.

949 Relax and Succeed - Far from what I once wasMost important in all of this for me is that you know I don’t blame you. I know life’s always a mixed bag. Maybe you have your own letter you’d write about the same thing where you see yourself as someone who owes someone an apology, but this is how I see it and this is how I feel and for those reasons it’s important to me that you give the ownership of this to me.  It was my fault.

I did it. Intentionally, accidentally, blindly; it doesn’t matter. I hurt you. I did it. Give it to me. Stop thinking about it and know that I accept the responsibility and that it is my burden to carry until I convert into a better self. Regardless of how you choose to feel after receiving it, I will always keep an open mind about our future simply because I am so confident in the value of you and I’m equally confident in my desire to work toward living up to being someone you would genuinely love and respect.

Thanks for even giving me the time to read this. I really do care. I wish you all the best. I really do. All the time. Big hug.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.