Being Conscious about our Conscience
How in touch are you with your conscience?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines CONSCIENCE as “the part of you that judges how moral your own actions are and makes you feel guilty about bad things that you have done or things you feel responsible for.” Essentially, it is our moral sense of what is right and wrong. It is our ethical and moral principles that normally dictate our thoughts and actions.
A good or clear conscience can be evidenced by our behaviour towards others, our acceptance of each other’s differences, our acknowledgement of other’s achievements and our appreciation of other’s successes.
A bad or guilty conscience can be evidenced by, again, our behaviour towards others, our lack of empathy for other’s situations or circumstances, hurting someone physically or emotionally whether it be intentional or not, a disagreement with a loved one or accidentally losing your husband’s grandmothers engagement ring (I still feel incredibly guilty about this after nearly 6 years).
Either way, our conscience is ever-present in our life. Whether it is in our choices, actions, thoughts or feelings. Using reason is often a good way to determine right from wrong as it can be as simple as treating others as you would like to be treated. You can also think of people whose way of being comes across as gracious, kind and respectful. These are the people whose behaviour you should mirror. Then think about those whose way of being is arrogant, rude and disrespectful. Be more mindful and make an effort to recognise this in your own behaviour and start working on some self-improvement.
I believe integrity and empathy to be two values that drive a good or clear conscience. Being trustworthy, truly listening to people not to just hear but to understand, being tolerant of different views and putting yourself in another’s position is how we determine right from wrong and how we make others feel they are valued and supported without judgement. In a conversation for example, empathy is not about agreeing with what someone might be saying, it is about understanding and accepting how they feel.
It is said that narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths have no conscience because they have no empathy. I have worked in environments where colleagues have been described as narcissistic and sociopathic because of how they treat others. I have also experienced this behaviour from a few people in the workplace. I personally believe that when anybody displays behaviour that reduces another to nothing or takes away another’s dignity in any way, they don’t have a conscience.
So to be more conscious about your conscience remember to:
- Be open to different perspectives and experiences.
- Think about your own behaviour and the behaviours you admire and dislike in others.
- Live your ethical and moral values.
- Stand up for your beliefs.
- Stand up for others when needed.
- Be respectful.
- Be kind.
We are not perfect beings and even with our high moral and ethical principles or the best intentions, we sometimes find ourselves on the wrong side of our conscience. We are filled with guilt because of our thoughts or actions. We all make mistakes and this is okay. Learning from our mistakes can often result in our best life lessons. And when you need to, apologise for your actions.
“Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.” – Richard Bach
Until next time…
Yours in Adapting & Being