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Restless Conscious Syndrome

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  #1  
Old 01-21-2009, 07:31 PM
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Default Restless Conscious Syndrome


When I was in highschool I never had a strong set of morals, I was always just...curious. That being the case, there were a number of times where I would do something that would be considered a "dick move." However, not really having morals meant I could justify the actions with my curiosity.

However lately I've been having almost hourly flashbacks to things I am ashamed of. To the point where I literally and figuratively have to shake them out of my mind. Not all of it is life altering instances, most are things normal people would have just gotten over. Even if I apologize to the people, they keep coming to me, I don't know what I have to do to get them to go away.

Any suggestions/comments?

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Old 01-22-2009, 12:55 AM
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I know it's going to seem simplistic, but: Forgive yourself and move on.

There's no point in dredging up past doings if they're just going to torment you, especially if you've already apologized to the people you'd done wrong to and they've moved on. You're beating yourself up for nothing. Keep in mind what you'd done in the past and try not to make the same mistake again, yes, but beating yourself over the head with them is pointless.

I think you have to come to grips with the fact that you're being way too harsh to yourself. You're only human. People make mistakes. A lot of them sometimes. But that's all a part of the growth process. You do, you learn, you grow. View them as steps to making yourself a better person and move on. Failing this, talk to someone you can trust, someone who'll understand and not judge you, and I don't mean go to confession or anything like that (although I've heard that can help), I mean a close friend or relative. He or she might be able to give your further insight to help you get over your recurring thoughts.

Sometimes all it takes is time, as well. The shame of past misdeeds tend to wane over time, though are never truly forgotten. And this is as it should be. It helps people to live and get along in society.

Hope I helped a little bit, Mortimer.

Devon
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Old 01-22-2009, 08:39 AM
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Morals are a tricky thing. In highschool, like you, my morals were different then they are now. I used to do stuff that today I would never do. However, I have been questioning my morals once again. Why hold oneself to such a high standard when everyone else around you seems to be just "raping and pillaging" anything they can? I have not compromised my morals yet, but the more I know - and learn - the more I question whether it is really worth it or not. They are subjective after all...
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Old 01-22-2009, 01:23 PM
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The problem with forgiving myself, is that I don't feel like that's something that I should be allowed to do. It's not as if I'm spending time thinking about all the bad things I've done. They come in flashes, not relevant to what I am doing, like a constant monkey on my back that says stuff like "Remember that time you did so and so? Yeah dude, you're an ass! Haha!" It's to the point where I literally have to shake them out of my head, which can be hard to explain.
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Old 01-22-2009, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Devon View Post
I know it's going to seem simplistic, but: Forgive yourself and move on.
More simplistic: Grow up. We all do dick stuff when we're young - that's what being young's for, you can't get away with it when you're my age.

Try this - I'm 17, the only one in my crowd with a car. My girlfriend is away, I'm out at a pub with my friend and his girlfriend, who've had a row. It transpires that the mens toilets have a bolt on the outside, presumably for night security, and my friend somehow gets locked in. I tell his girlfriend he's pissed off with her and has walked off, so I give her a ride home and sleep with her.

Does my conscience bother me? A little, at the time (it didn't go down well with him, her or my girlfriend) but not now. It's in the past, nobody died, we all learned something.
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Old 01-22-2009, 02:53 PM
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The problem with forgiving myself, is that I don't feel like that's something that I should be allowed to do.
And why the heck not? People are harder on themselves than they are on others sometimes. You make mistakes. No big deal. Everyone makes them. You acknowledge them and move on. As for shaking the thoughts away, if it makes them leave, so be it. Eventually your mind gets the message and forgets them (or bury them deep enough so they won't pester you constantly) altogether.

Mike: You're very blunt, aren't you?
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Old 01-22-2009, 03:59 PM
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It's not always as easy as just moving on. And often combing the past is part of growing up.

This will probably sound lame or preachy or whatever, but one useful means of straightening out concience problems is athe 12 Step program developed in Alcoholics Anonymous and applied to other programs where the route to kicking addictions is the reduction of guilt and ironing out of bad character.

I'm not suggesting that anybody cop to the whole "Give it up to God" part of that... although it's hard to see how that could be of any harm to anybody... but to observe a process that has worked for many, like the famous "stages of grief".

There are a lot of powerful processes that work in this stuf: confession, un-denial, focusing the consciousness through writing things out, trust, defusing by talking about, etc.

The AA steps are listed here.

Look what's going on:
1, Admission of a problem. Overcoming denial, in other words. Perhaps you're already there. Or perhaps you are are remembering incidents, but not capable of rooting them in a character flaw that might have caused them.

2. Higher power thing. Obviously belief is a powerful tool, but just as obviously not everybody handles things that way.

3. Ditto "turning things over to God"

4. Searching moral self-inventory. That could be an organized process of doing what your conscience is tossing at you piecemeal. AA usually advises writing this out and they have special journals and workshops for it, etc. Sometimes you get the idea that writers are doing this without realizing it.

5. ADMIT. Actually many people find it easier to admit things to God than to another human being. Many go on and on about who you choose to admit to: clergyman, counselor, blah blah. I say somebody on the bus qualifies. Ideally, you end up where you can tell anybody anything, right? Isn't that one sign of a clean conscience, not having dark secrets?

6. Ready to have God remove defects. What this is really saying is the same as, "You have to WANT to change." It's possible the incidents you're recalling are trying to tell you something. Or it's possible they are a neurotic hangup that you can get rid of when you are ready to.

7. Humbly asked Got do remove shortcomings. To me, the big word there is "humble".

8. Made a list of everybody you've harmed by your dick moves. And become willing to make amends. Again, just writing out a list can be helpful, just as simply talking to people can be helpful.

9. Make amends to eveybody you can, unless doing so would harm them. This is the concept behind "My Name Is Earl"...crossing people off the list.
This is, to me, a big advantage of 12 Steps over Christianity as a moral code. You can't just ask Jesus for forgiveness, you have to conftont people you've wronged and try to make it up to them.
Obviously, this is not always possible. And obviously some people are going to tell you to fuck off... but at least you offered. Sometimes you tet amazing closure just from a phone call.

10. Continue to take inventory and right new wrongs as you commit them. Duh. But does everybody do that? You see a lot of "born againers" go right back to being assholes, sure that they are forgiven for good.

11. Seeking guidance or orientation through prayer and meditation. Again, can really help, hard to see how it can hurt. By the way, if somebody is into prayer, I can think of no better guideline than this part of Step 11 " praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out"
You don't pray for Cadillacs or pussy or money, you pray for God's will. Another way of putting that, I'd say is, "the greatest good for everybody". If you beleive there is a Way that's best for all, you're on a path. If you believe that you can benefit by the misfortune of others, you're a dick.

One other phrase from this step is probably the most powerful concept in this entire system: "God as we understood God". Think about that a moment. Not "God as we say it is, what some hierarchy tells you, but WHAT YOU UNDERSTAND. And really, what else there? Can you really believe, much less take comfort, in something you are told but can't understand?

12. Contiue to practice this sort of behavior and accountability in future affairs.

Good luck
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Old 01-22-2009, 04:00 PM
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One more word on all that. Is it that you're "not allowed to"? By whom?

Or that you don't deserve pease and absolution?

One outgrowth of the kinds of program I've mentioned above is that it helps one to feel deserviing of forgiveness and serenity.
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Old 01-22-2009, 05:50 PM
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“However lately I've been having almost hourly flashbacks to things I am ashamed of.”

You were a dick in the past but “lately”, you’ve developed a conscious. How did that happen and what’s changed? - The key being what’s changed. Sometimes, we can have faith in ourselves for all the wrong reasons. I’d guess something lately has shaken that faith.

Mike C- what an asshole you were. But at least you got laid which is important for a seventeen year old. Okay, it’s important for sixty-four year olds also.

Adrian
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Old 01-22-2009, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by adrianhayter View Post
Mike C- what an asshole you were. But at least you got laid which is important for a seventeen year old. Okay, it’s important for sixty-four year olds also.

I was an asshole, that incident was kind of representative rather than isolated. Bit I got laid a lot. Now I'm a relatively nice guy, and get laid less often. There's a lesson there (though it might just be "Don't get old").
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:17 PM
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Haha
Mike, Devon's right, you are hilariously blunt.
I love reading your posts.
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Devon View Post
And why the heck not? People are harder on themselves than they are on others sometimes.
Devon It doesn't seem fair that the guilty should also be the Jury in the court room does it? Why should the persons whose morals are in question be allowed to make the ruling on wither what he did is forgivable?

Lin, Thank you for your words and saying it's not just a Grow up get over it thing. That being said, I don't turn to a higher power, not me, never has been me, never will be me. Thank you anyway though.

About your other question, It just doesn't make sense that I should be the one allowed to forgive myself does it? I'm the one who's on trial.

"You were a dick in the past but “lately”, you’ve developed a conscious. How did that happen and what’s changed"
I've always had these to an extent, once or twice a week, REAL small doses. Now they've been coming 1 every 1 or 2 hours. I don't know whats changed.


Mike C-
I did worse than that, I just can't say "Hey, whatever, I was young." That just doesn't make sense to me. The thing is, I'll have flashes to when I did nothing wrong sometimes, just when my ignorance turns a conversation sour or when I've said something stupid or out of place to a girl and fucked everything up. It's like someone saying "Wow, you're and idiot, lets review the evidence."
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:16 PM
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I don't turn to a higher power, not me, never has been me, never will be me.
Read it again
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Mortimer View Post
About your other question, It just doesn't make sense that I should be the one allowed to forgive myself does it? I'm the one who's on trial.
Maybe there is no god or higher power. Maybe there is just us. So you shouldn't be looking elsewhere for forgiveness. You have to look within. You have to forgive yourself. If you don't, it won't matter a hill of beans if other people forgive you.

It's like loving yourself. Lots of people can love you, but if you don't think you're worth it, all their love won't mean anything to you. It's the same with self-respect, part of which involves acknowledging your mistakes, learning from them, and - not least importantly - learning to forgive yourself for being less than perfect. Because, let's face it, none of us is perfect, and expecting ourselves to be perfect and never make mistakes is a hiding to nowhere.
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:49 PM
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Think about it in terms of what you have control over and what you don't. You don't have control over the past, since that's gone already. You'll make yourself crazy thinking about what you can't change. You don't have control over your conscience, either, since it seems to flare up when it wants to. (Perhaps that's what it's meant to do.)

What you do have control over is your own behavior. You have control over how you act today and in the future. When the guilt comes, you can choose how you will handle it. Here are some ideas, in no particular order. And the questions are rhetorical, so don't feel like I'm prying!

You recognise that you were a dick. Ask yourself: Am I a dick now? If you are, what will you do to change it? If you're not, it's obvious that you've learned and grown. Choose your reaction.

Is it possible to make amends? Maybe the good person you're trying to be wants to fix things you did before. If you can't make amends to the person(s) you hurt, maybe you can do good for someone else.

Thoughts are habit forming. Pick good ones and reinforce them. At first it will feel wierd, but keep reminding yourself that you are worthy. Think of the people who love you. Are they stupid? Of course not! They see something in you. Try to see it in yourself.

Look for patterns. Why are these memories haunting you now? Do they have anything in common with each other? With your life today? Our brains are great at picking up on patterns. Maybe something in your life now is reminding you of the past on the subconscious level.

Maybe you can't forgive yourself. But as you come to understand yourself, you may find you've been punished already. So why punish yourself more? It doesn't benefit anyone or anything for you to be in pain.

Since I do believe in God, this is how I reconcile my free will with His omnipotence. I take care of the things he gives me (the things in my control), and leave the rest for Him to sort out. You don't have to believe in God to use the advice, though. Do what you can with the things in your control, and let the rest go. I hope you find some peace with it!
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:58 PM
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At the start you asked; any suggestions/comments. Well meaning suggestions and comments were offered and you rejected them. That is your choice. Maybe it would help if you defined exactly what kind of comments and suggestions you would like. If you can't forgive yourself for your mistakes then you'll just have to live with the guilt. The sooner you accept that fact and adjust to it the easier it should be for you to "ease" your conscience. If the flashacks are that disturbing and overwhelming it would be a good idea to see a therapist before they worsen. At least get the opinion of a trained professional. Right now you are seeking the opinions of strangers on an internet forum and you don't agree with what they think you should do. As far as you not turning to a higher power, now or ever, that is understandable. Many people feel that way. So where do you turn when you need help or advice when life seems to be in a crisis? Who is your sounding board? Who or what do you put that kind of faith in. If not in a higher power or the advice of others then ultimately that faith resides solely in you. Knowing that, then who is it that really needs to forgive you?
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:05 PM
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Gaines, I know I'm rejecting stuff left and right, and I'm sorry. You have all really helped me realize that I need to be able to forgive myself and that I do deserve to be forgiven. It's just...not easy. But I do realize that everyone makes mistakes, and I am no exception. I can't get hung up on these things.

I've realized that it's not re-occurring thoughts, it's different ones each time (Yeah, there are that many) and they've slowed down. Maybe I'm just sifting through my bad memories that I have tried to forget.

So where do you turn when you need help or advice when life seems to be in a crisis? Who is your sounding board? Who or what do you put that kind of faith in.
Haha, Simply put, I look inwards. I'm a lot like an open book. People can ask me about any part of my life and I'll just about tell them anything they want to hear. I'm not going to ask them to hear me out though, just not my style. I just look at my problems through different perspectives in my mind.

Sometimes I'll have full blown conversations where each perspective has a different voice. :/
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:48 PM
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It's good to hear you say that you know you need to forgive yourself. Looking inward to resolve our issues is not a bad thing at all and it shows a self reliance or determination that you can find your answers. One thing I will suggest is to consider talking with a trained professional. That in no way implies some sort of mental problem. I have a good friend that two years ago went through something similar. On his own he joined a self help group that was offered at a local hospital and was mediated by a professional therapist. Once a week for six months or so he went. It was not long before he was feeling better about himself. He saw within the group that he was not alone in his feelings and he was being too hard on himself. Since that time he just goes whenever he feels the need to talk. It was a free clinic group. maybe their is one in your area. It won't hurt to check it out. Relax, learn to enjoy your life. It's the only one you get.
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Old 01-28-2009, 08:58 PM
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Ehhhh I'd really prefer not to see a trained therapist. I'm already aware of the fact that I have Narcissism and I'd rather not deal with professionals. I'm very stubborn when it comes to seeing therapists.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:16 PM
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Therapists are pretty worthless.

That's why I made the sugestion I did. I can tell you didn;t read it because your reaction about "not giving things over" ignores what I specifically had to say.
You should read the damn thing.

Or get used to talking to yourself. It's not like you really have to listen to the voices.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Mortimer View Post
Devon It doesn't seem fair that the guilty should also be the Jury in the court room does it? Why should the persons whose morals are in question be allowed to make the ruling on wither what he did is forgivable?
Possibly because it's only that person who has a problem with it?

Originally Posted by Mortimer View Post
Mike C-
I did worse than that, I just can't say "Hey, whatever, I was young." That just doesn't make sense to me. The thing is, I'll have flashes to when I did nothing wrong sometimes, just when my ignorance turns a conversation sour or when I've said something stupid or out of place to a girl and fucked everything up. It's like someone saying "Wow, you're and idiot, lets review the evidence."

Big deal. We've all said dumb things, messed things up with girls, behaved badly, acted like an idiot, got in fights, fucked things up. We all grow up. Only a small proportion of us decide to wallow in self pity about it.

So, if your behaviour was so bad, so reprehensible, what's the thing that's most troubling you? Confession is good for the soul.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:15 AM
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Mortimer,

I'm not known for my brevity around here, but I'm going to try, seeing as you have been given quite a lot of valuable advice.

Let me ask you these questions. (and these are rhetorical. I don't expect you to actually answer them.)

In what you have done, have you killed anyone?

Created a child, and left it to fend for itself?

Maimed anyone?

Gave someone a disease?

Destroyed a life completely?

In short, have you really permanently damaged others that you know of?

If not, then you have not done anything from which someone cannot truly recover.

Life gives you challenges. Maybe you were others challenge at the time. Maybe you actually helped them gain wisdom.

Even if you don't believe in God or some sort of afterlife, what are we all here for really? Simple, to experience and learn.

And if we don't live afterward, and in a million years what will it really matter what you have done in this life in the grand scheme of things? The sun will eventually burn out, but long before that the Earth will be consumed by it. From stardust we came and to stardust we will return...

So what are you fretting about. Seize the day! Because you can't change yesterday. (You don't have a time machine in your closet, do you?) If you want to be better, then do so, and make new memories to cover up all the retarded things you pulled as a youth. Make NOW brighter! Shivering over things you can't change, and wallowing in your past stupidity will avail you nothing. Because that is stupid in and of itself. Or do you like masochistically reveling in your self-made misery?

Maybe you're a pity hound? Are you?

Now, if you want to believe in a God, then I think He/She/It is a merciful and forgiving God. God would have to be, because if God set this whole shebang in motion, then God would have had to have set it up so that we can make mistakes, and learn from them. So learn from them. Be better. Smarter. Wiser. Kinder. Be selfless instead of selfish. Do you want more platitudes, or should I stop?

Do you really want all those you wronged to come and flog you, and take their pound of flesh? What good would it do them or you? Do you seek their forgiveness? If you do, gain it by being forgiving of others when they wrong you. Don't ever forget that you have done wrong, but forgive yourself by being how you want others to treat you.

I know that's bit Golden Rule-esque, but that Jesus cat did have a point there, regardless of your religion or creed. Give what you want to get. If you are a shit! Then stop being a shit! It is a simple philosophy that takes years to master. Start now, and stop making excuses. You're wasting time. Self recriminations, and self-pity eventual breed apathy in others, and you'll become merely mediocre. You're better than that. Hell, we're all better than that... We're born of Stars, for God's Sake, My Friend! ;D

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Old 01-29-2009, 01:40 AM
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When you're a cadet in the British Army, they can teach you everything there is to know about being a soldier ... except how to live with a mistake. In military service, it's expected that you get through it on your own. Yes, they provide counselling if necessary, but most soldiers are too proud and too worried to ask for counselling. The reality is that no sane man can rationalise death. It haunts you for years.

For some reason, doctors hold a begrudging view that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does not exist. That it is all in the minds of the soldier. Well, of course it is. It's a anxiety disorder characterised by biochemical changes in the brain! I'd like them to monitor myself and countless other former soldiers who wake up at three in the morning covered in cold sweat.

Mortimer, sir (I assume you are a man; if not, I apologise) holding things in can be a very dangerous game. The Gregorian Reform believed that when a person continually pushed their true feelings down and did not let them surface, two things could happen. One, their feelings would implode within them, dragging them into manic depression. Or, two, their feelings could explode outwards, resulting in an act of abhorrent evil.

It is good that you have realised your earlier faults, Mortimer. Admitting it is always the difficult part. If I was a priest, I might tell you to confess your sins, but I don't believe in God, so I will tell you to talk to someone. Not necessarily a trained therapist, but someone. A friend, a lover, or even a complete stranger. You'd be amazed at how many people will talk about their feelings to someone they've never met.

As human beings, we tend to forget a lot of the memories of our childhood, but we never forget the horrible things that were done to us, or that we done to others. They're imprinted on our minds, and we carry them throughout our lives. You don't need an eidetic memory to remember those.

I wish you all the best, Mortimer, and I do hope you talk to someone about this.

Spencer.
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:21 AM
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Lots of sensible advice coming through here but let me jump on the you-don't-need-to-see-a-therapist bandwagon. Let's just say I had some rough times in my younger days. Wreaked havoc with the old brain. I couldn't afford to see a psychiatrist (and I wouldn't opt to now) but I didn't really need one. Knowing what my problems were, it was more a matter of figuring out what had caused them, and then how to deal with them. Acceptance was a key part of the process. Whether you are a victim or a perpetrator, evil acts have a lasting effect on you, but you can learn to live with them.

Slick-Jimmy makes some good points, amongst them that in the grand, cosmic scheme of things, we are only motes of stardust. And that, despite it's utter simplicity, the Golden Rule of do unto others is a wonderful philosophy. Don't expect to get it right all the time, but don't beat yourself uop too badly when you get it wrong either.
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