Regardless of the magnitude and consequences of a secret, we all seek some sort of audience or approval for our actions. This is evident by the multitude of chat rooms and apps where people can anonymously confess their darkest moments.
Paul Wilkes opens The Art of Confession by addressing our confessional society, where people seek “acceptance, community, and absolution—though they would never call it by that name—for they have done nothing wrong but have simply ‘acted out,’ ruffling the feathers of convention and bruising a few feelings along the way.”
In the beginning, Wilkes seems to be suggesting religion as a tool for exploring confession and living an honest life. However, on a whole, this book is more about the discipline of personal reflection and the freedom it gives us to be the best version of ourselves.
He also suggests that not only should you practice the virtue that is opposite of your fault, but you should also focus on the virtues that have always been strengths rather than your faults. For example, you may be impatient but you are also generous. Focus on expanding your generosity, and you will have less time for impatience. Your faults, which often lead to dishonesty because of the shame that accompanies them, will gradually be overrun by your virtues.
At the end of the day, we must be able to live with our own choices and their consequences. Accepting responsibility instead of casting blame on someone else is the first step towards living a healthy life.
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