Conscience: The first stakeholder

While discovering all of these ‘edifying concepts’, a theme I repetitively found myself re-highlighting was the difference between ‘edification’ and the more traditional ‘needs not wants’ idea. It feels almost necessary that one gives honest consideration to the things that they ‘want’ (as ‘wants’ are an internal thing and generally speaking ‘to edify’ usually means working from the inside-out) but just as necessary is an ‘appropriate approach’. Perhaps appreciating the potential reasons behind one’s wants, helps prioritise them relative to more important needs. Once appropriately aligned, ‘wants’ likely become a smaller piece of a much more important whole, but they aren’t forgotten or ignored. Perhaps ‘what you want’ can then be accomplished as a stepping stone to achieving something you need. Or perhaps ‘what you want’ can become the reward/increased motivation, for first accomplishing some other yet more important need etc. Instead of ‘or’ it’s ‘and’ with ‘an appropriate approach’. ‘Reaching through’ whatever should come first to eventually grasp whatever it is that’s best.

Of all our the beings in our world who stand to benefit or suffer by the choices we make, surely none are more directly influenced than ourselves. That being is one we have more influence over than any other and as such if we’re aiming to better our world than surely we should begin by increasing our own capabilities. Our strength, fitness, health, resilience, flexibility, endurance, etc. is all combined to provide a sum whole degree, extent, or measure of ‘function’.

Our mind, our body, our heart, our spirit, our soul. Whatever you want to call the sum whole of everything that’s combined inside us, let’s call ‘the self’. Dividing the self we can find the parts that are most helpful and worth keeping/improving upon, which we can call ‘the best self’. This is who we really should be focussed on, most of the time. Who we should be listening to, working for, bringing to fruition & reality etc.  The more time we spend with our best selves the better of we’ll be. Whenever we want to check in with our best selves to determine next steps, quality of progress thus far, future needs etc. we do so via our conscience. The space within us that allows personal reflection and self-assessment. At any given point in time, within mere seconds, we can delve within, mentally connect with all of the currently connect aspects of our existence, assess our entire being and like a flash of light, a thought enters our mind letting us know ‘what’s next’. Our conscience is the tool we must continually use, to carve out our best selves, from the rest of ourselves.

Failing to consciously assess oneself regularly is easily summerised as ‘subconscious living’. Or a phrase I’ve used many time and relate with all to well, ‘comatose living’. When the conscience isn’t being engaged, we can only live subconsciously. Failing to engage that conscience regularly blinds us to the checkpoints and gauges that indicate our either our progress toward or distancing from our best selves. Ignoring gauges leads to suffering avoidable damages and dramas. Regularly checking in is how we keep everything moving forward. Conscience alignment is the primary contributing factor determining the extent of one’s function.

Conscience alignment itself is the process of sowing the seeds of truth already banked within your mind, into the rest of your being. It is the physically enacting of that which you already mentally know or suspect to be right. Only once enacted does the rest of your being really begin to ‘know’ that truth. We don’t really know truth that we don’t live, even if we can recite the concept by memory. Without action there is no alignment. Deviating from alignment, failing to align, refusing to align or doing nothing at all, will all result in further misalignment & dysfunction.

The most basic building blocks used to better connect with our own conscience and then in turn construct a more meaningful and happy existence, include things like truth, light and life. All such things are analysed and utilised via our conscience. The conscience is like a science lab for experimenting with truth. We can run a few theoretical tests in our minds and if it proves potentially valid, we can being enacting that truth for further analysis.  When we’re conscience aligned, we’re more thoroughly assessing these things and in turn remain more susceptible or sensitive to these things. This then increases our capacity to identify and apply further truth. When we’re living in discord with our conscience however, we tend to numb ourselves, becoming more and more blind to these building blocks or how to effectively utilise them.

This is perhaps never more evident when we’re blinded by emotion, like when we’re angry and we have no desire to engage our conscience at all which results in us not caring at all about truths that we would otherwise value and honour when considered in a more sober-minded state. If “long-term me” doesn’t agree with “short-term me”, then the latter is likely numbing his conscience for some short-term-gain (aka gratifying) result. Truth that we’re willing and trying to ‘feel’ (aka engaging the truth with our conscience) will contribute more drive and motivation towards edification than truth that we’re willing and trying to ‘understand’. Both are helpful but ‘feeling’ truth should be prioritised. It involves a ‘changing’ experience that just doesn’t occur when somebody is only pursuing an understanding. The conscience is separate to the mind, at least in part. 

Although it can certainly be hard to initially identify if our efforts are contributing more to a conscience alignment or misalignment, it doesn’t take much time or experience for results to become more and more blatantly obvious. There’s undoubtedly an ‘energy ROI’ (Return On Investment) on both outcomes where increased alignment invigorates and frees us while further misalignment leaves us feeling drained and frustrated. Simply put, the more reliably we abide our own conscience, the more functional and capable we are to engage with and participate in the lives of those around us. Those of us who struggle the most to abide their conscience quickly reveal themselves as having little energy or patience left in their lives for those around them. Our own conscience alignment is what provides the ‘energy surplus’ we can then use to contribute to the lives of those around us. The more good we want to contribute to the lives of those around us, the better aligned we need to get with our own conscience.

It’s not really possible to have a ‘majority’ alignment with no surplus. It seems the moment that we’re EITHER ‘mostly’ aligned or weirdly enough even ‘increasing in alignment’ (including when still primarily misaligned) we begin having some degree of surplus. More than we need to function. We become more capable of smiling at others, appreciating a glance at the sky, capable of stopping to smell the roses, or picking up someone else’s rubbish without feeling like it’s a burden. We become ‘more alive’. Conversely the more misaligned we are the more it feels like we’re spending the entirety of our energy just staying afloat, surviving, meeting a base level of simple function and the more we have to spend on basic functioning, the less surplus we have for everyone else. Conscience alignment maximises surplus; conscience unalignment minimises surplus to below zero and you actually walk around a DYSFUNCTIONAL being: a cost to all those around you that have to interact with you.

Potentially the greatest thing we can do for both ourselves and others is to be conscience abiding. Conscience UNALIGNMENT is draining; conscience alignment is invigorating. OTHERS (from spouse to strangers) are going to have a VERY hard time listening to/valuing your opinions and guidance when it’s obvious YOU don’t even listen to yourself. If you are losing that internal battle, rallying troops to the same fight in themselves isn’t going to work in most cases.

Conscience alignment involves being as accountable for yourself as you can be. Honestly acknowledging the total cost/contribution you are to the world around you. Each and every interaction with anything and everything in your world. It’s cleaning up after yourself, which includes all areas of dysfunction, not just our lunch litter, but also our drama dump on our spouse, our emotional unloading on our kids, our hostile driving, our impatient phone etiquette etc.

A truly functional person is capable of consistently contributing to their world. If at any of these points we ‘need’ to vent on others, or vent or tax our world in any way, we evidence dysfunction. If we’re at least mostly functional then at the times of our dysfunction we’re then doing what we can to fix our mess. We pick up our trash, we say sorry, we honestly try to repair and perhaps most importantly we recommit to contributing from surplus to those we’ve hurt/left cleaning up our dysfunctional mess.

If what’s being contributed to others isn’t coming from surplus, it’s going to take some kind of toll either on one’s function, the individual contributed to, your relationship or all three. Contributions from function can’t be given consistently due to the cost. Also, whether you want it to or not, the contributions you make into other people’s lives are going to come with strings attached which means you’re going to have expectations that if not met, is going to result in offense, pain, or drama for one or both of you in order to correct some perceived injustice. Only when those contributions come from surplus can they truly be ‘stringless’, which means the contributions themselves aren’t going to feel like they’re a cost to you and they can continue to be made indefinitely if wanted.

DYSfunctional people are energy DEPENDANT. Lacking surplus, they ‘lash out’ on others and have BAD interactions with those around them because they’re DEPENDANT on those interactions, trying to fill an energy hole in themselves. They have a NEED they’re trying to satisfy but due to their dysfunction usually end up gratifying themselves via their interactions with others. This is painfully evident in ‘trouble-makers’, ‘drama-queens’, ‘fight-instigators’ etc. people who obviously have a craving to encourage or provoke others in unhelpful ways because of some unmet need within themselves.

It’s my opinion that the conscience is the most internal/core stakeholder and as such, being conscience aligned is probably the first, most edifyingly successful thing you can be in life. I struggle to envision any person who could manage to be an edifying spouse (what I’ve considered to be a potential rival stakeholder for first place) while simultaneously ignoring or opposing one’s own conscience. It can’t last. No matter how helpful you try to be if your own example demonstrates internal hypocrisy you’ll never be as influential or helpful as you otherwise could be. The inauthenticity and hollow advice/guidance will be lack-lustre to say the least. The same rings true for children and any other stakeholder for all the same reasons. Example is always the most powerful and best possible way to positively influence others and it’s just not possible to be a good example without regular, honest and thorough conscience realignment.

To that end, perhaps we would be wise treating our conscience like we would other stakeholders, as a separate entity that requires, regular, intentional attention, because that’s exactly what we need to do. If I am correct, and of all our stakeholders that effect the quality of our existence, if our own conscience is the most effective place to begin, then to the extent we aren’t already, we need to begin regularly listening to, exercising, experimenting, practicing with and reporting to, our conscience. I don’t see how any of us who haven’t already habitualised or at least scheduled regular intentional conscience review, could genuinely find a more effective place to focus their personal development efforts. I see it like taking a massive road trip but refusing to check your instruments along the way. Ignoring speed, fuel, GPS, tacho, temperatures, etc. seems like it would be such an unwise thing to do, and yet far too often we’re (myself absolutely included) far too comfortable ‘living blind’, taking little to no time to even glance at our gauges to check how our engine and other internals, are doing. Especially considering how easy it can be to glance at gauges of a well-built machine to keep issues at bay.

Ideally, perhaps we need to become as sensitive as possible, to the indicators our conscience provides. Kind of like how parents somehow can develop a unique awareness of their own children’s voice, cries and sounds so as to be able to clearly identify it amongst a great amount of ambient noise, while others fail to notice it at all. We would be wise to become extremely familiar with the voice of our own conscience to be capable of picking it out from a sea of other voices. Surely, like nearly things, things is something that can be trained and mastered, when one is willing to do so.

I suspect that the less capable we are of hearing the voice and needs of our own conscience, our closest stakeholder, the more difficult it is to hear any/all subsequent stakeholders, residing further from us. If such is accurate, one would then also hope that the more training undergone to be sufficiently sensitive to one’s own conscience, the more capable we also become of hearing the cries of our other stakeholders.

When picturing how one might best utilise a symbolic map of their own stakeholders, I often visualise the same ‘reaching through’ as previously mentioned, where if one desires to ‘reach’ any particular stakeholder for the purpose of helping/uplifting/providing any benefit to their exitance, perhaps such is best done by going ‘through’ whichever stakeholders should come first/lie between you both. Reaching my wife without going through my conscience or trying to ignore it in the process, seems as though it would never be as effective. Reaching my children while ignoring either my wife or conscience, is going to result in something more ‘hollow’ than the ideal. But perhaps if I can present myself as ready to help my wife after ensuring the needs of my conscience have first been prioritised, I’m best prepared to actually be helpful, instead of bitter or helping begrudgingly. Perhaps if I can present myself as ready to help my children, after ensuring my wife’s needs have first been addressed, I (and then of course ‘we’) become best prepared to be helpful parents.

If our own conscience is indeed the first stakeholder that we should be prioritising in order to maximise the benefit of our existence, then that would likely ring true for everyone else as well, and ‘aligning others to your conscience’ becomes obviously less important than ‘aligning others to their own conscience’ which then once again becomes even less important than ‘helping others align themselves to their own conscience’. The reality of the importance of leading by example once again becomes more self-evident. The best way to help others do something for themselves is to first demonstrate doing the same for yourself, then the invitation can be as simple as ‘see how this works for me, you try it’.

It would appear that perhaps the best thing you can do for the whole world is to first be conscience aligned yourself. The second best thing you can then do for any/all others, is to help them do the same. This will likely be best accomplished through exemplifying the benefits of doing so and then with the surplus energy/capacity built by doing so yourself, one can gift that surplus to others, helping to free them from whatever burdens their function, in turn increasing their own surplus and then capacity to repeat the same for themselves and others.

I suspect also that, if we’re doing this well, we should be continually increasing in both our capacity and interest in contributing to the lives of those around us. We will be experiencing more capacity, motivation, sensitivity and genuine concern for everyone else. The more poorly we’re aligning ourselves to our conscience, our capacity to and interest in contributing to the lives of those around us is likely decreasing. We have less motivation, less sensitivity and less concern for others.

It has been my experience thus far that listening honestly to one’s own conscience will nearly always lean us towards both becoming better and doing better for one’s stakeholders.

Forever we have debated if it’s more or less helpful to put yourself first or others first, where perhaps it’s somehow a mash. Perhaps we need to approach accomplishing a primary goal of helping others by completing an initial goal of appropriately preparing ourselves. Perhaps if ourselves is the primary goal we can get too hung up there and get stuck in a self-serving loop and perhaps if others is the initial goal we can the capacity and stability required to lift others? Ensuring one doesn’t confuse what’s best with what’s first, and vice versa.

To this end, it would appear that perhaps we make the most of ourselves by targeting the improved welfare of our stakeholders and beginning that process by first being conscience aligned ourselves.

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