Conscience and Guilt

When we say, express, or do some­thing wrong, our con­science pricks us. It is a wound that hurts.

Often, we apply “quick relief” med­ica­tion to that wound:

  • Oh, I’m sor­ry, I didn’t know” (when one very well knew)
  • I’m sor­ry, I didn’t mean to hurt you” (when one very well knew it could hurt)
  • I had no idea my behav­ior would be per­ceived by you in that way, I’m sor­ry” (when one very well knew it could be per­ceived that way)
  • Yes, in my writ­ing that arti­cle, I copied from what was writ­ten ear­li­er by some­one else. I just didn’t think my arti­cle would be read so wide­ly.”
    (Please for­give me for the theft, I didn’t think any­one would notice).
  • I’m sor­ry dar­ling, I did not ini­ti­ate it. It was she who hugged me and then kissed me, I had no choice but to suc­cumb.”
    (I did not with­draw from the hug and stop her from any fur­ther inti­ma­cy).
  • These “quick relief” med­ica­tions are a short term solu­tion to address the guilt we feel with­in our­selves.

Do these “quick relief” med­ica­tions work in the long term? They may ame­lio­rate the prob­lem in our rela­tion­ships, but they’re not long-term solu­tions.
The guilt per­sists. Our con­science doesn’t give up so eas­i­ly, nei­ther does it for­get soon. Our con­science is a tough bas­tard with an unfor­get­table mem­o­ry, and it just feels like a chained iron ball that restricts us from wan­der­ing free.

What do we next do to cling to sup­port in our quest to ignore our con­science? Time.
We hope that over time, our mis­take, our trans­gres­sions, and our wrong behav­ior will be for­got­ten and buried over the sands of time. That iron ball chained to us will become a for­got­ten arche­o­log­i­cal arti­fact.

If, in the short-term, we suc­cess­ful­ly apply “quick relief” med­ica­tion, in the long term, our con­science will no longer remem­ber those wounds and those mis­takes.
But it doesn’t work that way. Our con­science is indomitable, even time doesn’t over­pow­er it. Our fee­ble attempts to van­quish our guilt by wait­ing it out don’t work.

The only way to defeat and over­pow­er our con­science is to accept the guilt, accept the mis­take we made, inter­nal­ize what we did wrong, and learn from it.
Con­science and guilt have no time lim­its, they will wait for­ev­er for us to accept our mis­takes. We can’t over­pow­er them by hop­ing they will fade and cease to exist over time.

We spend a lot of time in our lives evad­ing, neglect­ing, and sup­press­ing our con­science.
I think if we paid more atten­tion to it, our lives would be so much hap­pi­er.

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