Goodness and wickedness, heaven and hell exist in each of us, and they are created and maintained by our thoughts and actions.
Yes, a person can choose to be good consciously feeding thoughts and positive actions. Likewise, an evil person is one who chooses to have thoughts in their inner dialogue leading to destruction, anger, hatred, jealousy, envy. The next step is to put into practice, through conscious actions, behaviors and actions that spring from the thoughts they have.
It's easy for a person to become evil. Maybe in the family where they grew up they saw evil models - aggression, anger, abuse, so they copied them, maybe they had to cope with the evilness of others and they built defense mechanisms, maybe they noticed that through aggression and wickedness they can dominate others and reach their goals in life.
In every person there is a sense of good and evil, and in their conscious or unconscious mind they keep track of their thoughts and deeds. If someone has negative thoughts or bad behaviours and actions, their self-imagine is affected. But, as we don’t like to think about ourselves that we are evil, we get to lie to ourselves, to deceive ourselves that we are actually good and we live in an intrapsychic conflict.
With every negative action or thought we distance more and more from ourselves, we get numb inside and we live in a permanent illusion.
What does the evil person do? They deny the truth, they pretend to be good, and they try hard to convince others they are good using manipulation and deceit. They show goodness and calm hoping that nobody will realize the evil which hides within.
“The words ‘image,’ ‘appearance,’ and ‘outwardly’ are crucial to understanding the morality of those who are evil. While they seem to lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. Their ‘goodness’ is all on a level of pretense. It is, in fact, a lie. Actually, the lie is designed not so much to deceive others as to deceive themselves. They can’t or won’t tolerate the pain caused by reproaches. The etiquette by which they rule their life is maintained as a mirror that reflects a correct image. However, self deception wouldn’t be necessary if the evil ones weren’t aware of good and evil. We lie only when we try to hide something that we know it’s illicit”- M. Scott Peck - People of the lie
We often have to deal in life with evil people. Of course, human wickedness comes in different forms and has different degrees. There are evil people who still have a conscience and therefore they can become good, as are those in whom evil has become predominant and permanent. And they can’t be helped anymore because any process they should go through to become good is too painful, so they refuse it fiercely.
“Those in hell are there because of their own choices. They could get out of it if they chose so, but their values make the exit road from hell look terrible, dangerous, incredible painful and impossible to follow. So they stay in hell because they seem to be safe and things to be easy there. They prefer this way.” - M. Scott Peck
Evil people suffer. But people around them suffer most, those who are victims of their desire to satisfy their aggressive, narcissistic urges, their hunger for power and domination. Because they are masters of disguise and manipulation, the people they are dealing with are deceived by the image they are projecting outward. But if they listened to their intuition, they would feel a certain inner confusion, a feeling that something isn’t right. We can best realize this when we think of someone in their absence - what feelings do we have, how do we perceive them when we are not under their "spell". It is also very important to look at a person's behaviors, at the discrepancies between what they say and what they do and pay attention to their facial expression. No one can sustain a mask permanently.
I met, as I imagine you did, evil people who were extremely faithful, who were going to church and respecting what is sacred. But that's just an appearance. Perhaps they imagine that their "sins" will be forgiven by putting the mask of a religious person, perhaps by doing so they try to induce others deluding them that they are in fact good and humble. Again, it's good to look at their behaviors. They are talking about simplicity and humility, but they are cheap and they accumulate huge fortunes, they talk about the ten commandments, but they lie, betray, gossip, get angry, manipulate others, they are aggressive and wicked. In fact, how much did they internalize what they preach?
"Because the main motivation of evil is disguise, one of the places where evil people are most likely to be found is the church. What better way to hide their own wickedness from themselves, and also from others, than to to be seen as a good Christian? I don’t want to say that the religious motivations of most people are in any way counterfeited. I just want to say that bad people tend to gravitate around piety for the disguise and hiding it offers."- M. Scott Peck
As I said above, these people can’t be helped because they don’t think they have a problem. On the contrary, they tend to blame others, to justify their unorthodox actions, and to look for scapegoats. Not taking responsibility is a central feature of these people.
It is important for those who suffer because of evil people not to delude themselves that they can change them or that they will ever change. The only way to protect yourself from evil is to get out of its way. Otherwise there is the risk of becoming its victim or to attract you into a negative reality: either because you feel the need to defend yourself and fight evil, or because you get to imitate that model - and this may happen most often in couple relationships, friendship or family relationships, when there are feelings that tie you to a person.
A person can be good if they want this. But this requires awareness, responsibility and the decision to give up any negative thought, word or deed. Goodness brings you inner peace and peace of mind, while evil people always live in a conscious or unconscious suffering.
How do you choose to live your life?
Dr. Ursula Sandner