How to Know If My Conscience Is Really Clear

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Anyone who has struggled to sleep with a bad conscience knows there really is no softer pillow as that of a clear conscience, and that slipping into sleep with this caliber of peace is one of life’s greatest rewards.

Yet, still I have tried to justify and rationalize things I know are not right. And, at times have conveniently mistaken a clear conscience for…

  • denial and/or projection of guilt on someone else
  • ignorance of my responsibilities

A know a real clear conscience when it has cost me something.

Often, the cost is…

  • courage to seek the highest integrity against the pull of self-protection
  • a willingness to be quiet long enough to really hear
  • the disciplined work required to understand another’s point of view
  • owning my dark side
  • ego-obliterating apologies

Love People. Use Things.

It is easy to slip into loving things. And, then, using people (to get or protect things) follows naturally.

It is also easy to justify loving things, because things, power, fame and money promise to make life so much more enjoyable. And, even though we might not really want to use people to get those things, it happens.

What happens after that is not pretty.

Happiness eludes us.

Simple joys disappear.

Peaceful sleep is more difficult.

Breaking the chain reaction is complicated.


We go back to our original purpose:

“Let no one come to you without leaving better.” –Mother Teresa


Whatever I don’t receive or may lose in life, love is the one thing I will always have to give.

Which is why Valentine’s Day is happy.

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Hard Knocks Knock out Non-Essentials

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“…self-pity separates the victim from reality.” 

It has taken me decades to understand how deadly this separation from reality actually is.

My own self-pity…

  • delayed longed-for change
  • stunted the development of courage
  • shunned positive action
  • drained my strength
  • cemented my immaturity
  • pushed extraordinary people away
  • made me common, boring, and unattractive

Who knew?

I must have subconsciously believed being the “queen of the whine” was my only alternative. After all, everyone seemed to do it.

Obviously, I had chosen role-models who didn’t know that hard knocks were to be appreciated for knocking non-essentials out of the way of a preferred and refined existence.

To Maximize Time and Effort

I can plow steadily ahead 

With passionate intent

Or I can listen first

At the feet of wisdom


I can plunge heart-first

Into painful obstacles

Or stand high on shoulders of giants

To see far past them


If I refuse the pain

Of patient humility

I will wish later for the sustenance 

Of its sweet and proven fruit 

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Pop-Up Encouragement. Or Not.

When we are freaking out and taking ourselves too seriously…

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(Yeah, right. Like that will work. But, it may be worth a try anyway.)

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Admittedly, it is seriously difficult (and sometimes impossible) to keep someone else from freaking out and  taking themselves too seriously.

Yet statistics show…okay, well, my personal history validates…that lightening up only happens when a state change occurs.

And state changes don’t occur without a radical shift of focus. Here are some things that shift my focus:

  • getting hit in the face with ice cold water
  • getting pushed out of an airplane
  • tornado sirens
  • reading the right book, helping someone, or watching cat videos

Worth the Courage It Takes

When I am frightened to do what I think I might need to do

I often pretend I never heard the idea at all

When my heart skips a beat thinking of a risky move

I often turn up my activities to ignore the nudge

When the call of the wild arrives on the wind and waves 

I drown it out: nose to the machinery of the day

Cheating myself of the exhilarating plunge

Into the cold stream of courage

The one with the postcard waterfall cascading

Into the meadow of the dreams I have almost forgotten

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Wee Wee Wee All the “Waze” Home?

After programming the app with my destination and checking the arrival time, it would be ridiculous to:

  • ignore the technology and micromanage my trip
  • know all the turns I would have to take before it was necessary to take them
  • worry about how long each step would take

Because the end result had already been programmed!

And so it is with a life.

I can…

  • trust the process
  • quit being a control freak
  • fully use my resources, and
  • enjoy the ride

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Bewilderment Is the Norm

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I love this quote because it describes the state of affairs of a radically finite (and often confusing) existence, and reminds me to take it all in stride.

For the ultimate peaceful journey through this planet, I must…

  1. Expect to be bewildered
  2. Refuse to get cocky about what I think I know
  3. Go with the unresolved, uncertain, and disruptive


  1. Ranting about how other people and events don’t comply with my preconceived ideas and ideals
  2. Guarding my intellectual turf
  3. Disagreeing with reality

Thanks Joseph Campbell for the delightful signpost along the path of discovery.