A Mature Conscience is Key to Character

Mature Conscience

A mature conscience is essential to good character. But in our times, forming such a conscience is harder than ever. That’s a major reason why there’s so much of what I call character disturbance.

A mature conscience is first and foremost a conscience that is well-formed. And a well-formed conscience involves much more than just following rules. It’s understanding the timeless principles principles behind the rules. (I explore these principles in depth in Essentials for the Journey). Moreover, it’s about embracing the principles with an open, willing, loving heart. When our hearts are not in the enterprise, there’s little chance we’ll develop a conscience that is genuinely solid and mature.

Obstacles to Proper Conscience Formation

It’s hard to count all of today’s impediments to forming a healthy conscience. We need to witness proper modeling of cucial values. And those values have to be commonly endorsed. The values that largely dominate modern culture inherently impair health conscience formation. Chief among those toxic values are attitudes of entitlement. You’ve probably heard folks say that narcissists harbor feelings of entitlement. But it’s the massive sense of entitlement present in culture that fuels so much narcissism. For decades, a classic vicious cycle has been churning, negatively impacting both culture and character.

The Crucial Roles of Conscience

A well-formed, mature conscience performs two functions essential for character health. A healthy conscience pushes us to take the noble course when such a course is difficult. It provides us with the will and the strength to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, no matter what the possible cost. Such a conscience also holds us back when necessary, when every fiber of our being wants to do or say what better judgment says we shouldn’t. Our conscience is like the reins on the animal instincts that pull our carriage. Sometimes we have to coax our reluctant selves forward. Other times, we need to restrain ourselves. Without a healthy conscience, we all tend to run loose. And that, in a nutshell, is why so many lives and relationships are a shipwreck these days.

I talk more about these matters on the latest edition of  Character Matters. And I’ll have more to say about these same issues in future posts. (Check out also: Chapter 4 in Character Disturbance, and Chapter 1 in In Sheep’s Clothing.)

8 thoughts on “A Mature Conscience is Key to Character

  1. Practicing every day. Some days better than other in recognizing when my boundaries are weak and/ or am allowing someone to wear me down.

    It’s very important to get away from people who don’t treat you well as soon as possible. I thought I could manage it. It’s not worth it.

    My daughter sent me a note basically putting me a double bind. Either acquiesce or don’t come to the wedding. That night I had a stroke. Just got home after a month in the hospital. I’m determined to heal. It’s going to take time. It needs to be.

      1. In my journey in dealing with narcissistic individuals, actually a lifetime of them, it is true they feel initialed. However, this sick way of thinking is taking over our country and world.

        So true, it is all about conscience which we all have or in the alternative decide to delete from our minds and become entitled and self-serving. All of us who do have a healthy conscience must be the voice in the wilderness and set the example and when possible be the change factor to make this a better world.

        Knowing the nature of the true narcissist, it is best to honest and open about truth and then leave them be. We and only We can be the change this world needs.

        1. As a parent of one, it is nearly impossible to come to terms with it before they destroy you, or at least do considerable damage. It’s hard to fathom that the person you loved, nurtured and cared for is capable of that. You want to believe you can fix it. It’s clear they know this and use it every chance they can. I had to get to the point where I hated her to let go completely.

          1. I’m sorry, its sad when your only child is so impossible to be around. My daughter is a narc but on the lower end of the spectrum. Still, she has caused grief for me with her lying about me to others – thats something I find so difficult to deal with because so many people don’t even try to get the other side of the story – but they are so good at lies.

    1. Hi, Healing,

      I’ve wondered where you went. I figured you were just taking a break.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your troubles with your stroke and hope you are recovering well. Are you doing ok now? A month in the hospital sounds like you had a very serious incident.

      Do you think the conflict with your daughter contributed to your stroke?

      So sorry to hear you are continuing to deal with family difficulties while you’re dealing with serious medical challenges as well.

      Be well!! And let me know if I can do anything for you.

      1. Hi Charlie,

        Thanks. Doing ok, all things considered. I had one at home and another in the hospital. Lost use of right arm and leg and sound like I’m drunk. Focusing on therapy. The leg is coming back strong. The arm/hand takes longer. Therapist said the arm so far is looking promising, so very thrilled to hear that.

        I do think it contributed. It’s very psychologically and physically stressful. It’s a game to her.

        Thanks for the well wishes.

  2. Kat,

    Thanks. Yes, they make your relationship difficult and your relationships with others difficult too. Lies and tricks. Poison.

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