Conscience — the ultimate way to live a life in peace
The ultimate way of achieving peace of mind is living according to our conscience. My dad always told me to “think of the consequences before acting” and to think for myself. We had only a few rules in our home. This advice has served me well. It created the right environment to learn to think independently. The bible refers to the word “conscience” throughout the book.
But how does our conscience work? Different cultures, religions, beliefs will influence our conscience.
When we think of our conscience, we usually think that it is supposed to guide us, prompt us to do good — to do the right thing. We don’t believe that this inner voice would tell us when we have done enough or trying to do too much! When we should NOT give in to demands from our family, workplace, our kids’ schools, and so forth.
I struggled with this idea of “giving unconditionally” for a long time until I realized that I attempted the impossible and then felt guilty because I was not able to keep up with all the demands.
I believe women especially get conditioned that way. Circumstances, situations change all the time and require different responses.
Let’s imagine for a moment — we had such an apparatus within us that would guide us and tell us what to do in all situations. We would have such clarity, peace (it is also called inner locus) How can we attain such a state of mind? I like to compare this process with flying on an airplane through turbulence — When the pilot announces to fasten seatbelts because turbulence is expected, I get a queasy feeling in my stomach. But then thankfully, the plane flies at a higher altitude and avoids the turbulence. What a relief! I imagine my mental state of mind to be like that. To be able to lift my thoughts to “higher ground” instead of getting caught in the circumstances. What are the causes of such strenuous situations? They are caused mainly by outside interferences, which we have no control over. However, these events disturb us a great deal and cause us anxiety.
An example would be — one of our kids has gotten into trouble, or a marriage is falling apart, and our grandchildren are affected. I am facing a situation like this at the moment. I had to think about how can I best support them. I cannot allow myself to succumb to sadness and worry. Instead, I apply the following guidelines.
- Acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and how I feel.
- Ask for wisdom and understanding. Show kindness and be patient.
- Ask my inner voice or conscience what I can and should do OR not do. This part can be very tricky.
- Move to “Higher Ground.” Be cheerful. It is ok to fake it at first. Give the family a sense of hope that no matter what, we will love each other and support one another.
I want to recount a few examples when my inner voice prompted me, and I chose to obey. They were small things for me but made a big difference for the person I encountered at that time. I crossed the Danube in my hometown, and I man approached to ask for some change for bus fare. I usually don’t respond to such requests — after all, we can’t help everybody — I could hear my Father’s voice in my head “don’t give these beggars anything, the government takes care of them; besides they only use it for booze.” But somehow, in this instance, I felt this inner nudge to go ahead and give him some change. But when I opened my wallet, I only had a large bill. We were on the bridge and no stores to get some change. Now I needed to make a decision. I could easily afford to hand him that bill (maybe the equivalent of $ 20) However, that meant I could not wait in my favorite coffee shop for my bus home. If you ever visited a coffee shop in Austria, you will understand that this was indeed a sacrifice for me.
After I handed the money to this man and we went our way in opposite directions I heard him calling to me “God bless you! With such intensity, I thought maybe through this small act of giving his faith in humanity was restored.
Now I had to wait in the waiting room at the bus station, which was full of people and no place to sit. It was cold and wet from all that slush outside. I had to wait for more than an hour. It was too cold to walk around outside. I finally found a corner and cowered on my heels. I thought to myself — I hope this man is sitting in a warm restaurant and enjoying a warm meal. I had no regret even now for giving him the money. As I was thinking about that scenario, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and wellbeing flooding me.
I could not have felt better anyplace else. This experience stayed with me for the rest of my life.
I’ve had similar experiences throughout my life — When I followed that inner voice. I felt that warm embrace and a sense that I was loved, and everything was fine.