Existential Psychology

Villains And Saints

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The great villains don’t worry about the destructive consequences of their thoughts and actions while the saints put just about every aspect of their lives under the microscope and are highly concerned about the destructive consequences of their thoughts and actions. The result is that the villains experience little guilt, little second guessing, while the saints experience lots of guilt, lots of second guessing.

That’s the paradox you’ve got to understand if your thoughts and feelings have been less than noble, if many of your behaviors have caused others to suffer, and if you now find yourself haunted by guilt, shame, and remorse as a result. The guilt, shame, and remorse are good signs, not bad signs! The truly bad sign would be to have chosen a destructive path and feel just fine about it.

You might not be where you want to be or where you need to be but you’re definitely on the right path if you’re concerned about your deficits. These concerns are proof of a good heart acting against its nature not a bad heart acting out of its nature.

The key is to stop obsessing over what you did wrong and to transform the situation by starting to do more of what you know is right. We all think, say, and do destructive things from time to time, there’s no getting around that. But we should start getting really scared when we no longer care. The guilt, the shame, the remorse, they’re all useful in that they’re clear signposts proclaiming, “Don’t go this way anymore if you want to be happy and free and help others be happy and free.”