To influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him.
There had been a time when I owned my life and now I felt like I was coming around to myself again. It's like I've finally discovered bones in myself I never knew I had. I discovered that it takes bravery to be one's self. I now know that the only thing I needed to be afraid of was of not finding my true self and having the courage to be me.
One reason why the Enemy found this so east was that, without knowing it, I was already desperately anxious to get rid of my religion; and that for a reason worth recording. By a sheer mistake - and I still believe it to have been an honest mistake - in spiritual technique I had rendered my private practice of that religion a quiet intolerable burden. It came about in this way. Like everyone else I had been told as a child that one must not only say one's prayers but think abut what one was saying. Accordingly, when I came to a serious belief, I tried to put this into practice. At first it seemed plain sailing. But soon the false conscience (St. Paul's 'Law', Herbert's 'prattler') came into play. One had no sooner reached 'Amen' than it whispered, 'Yes. But are you sure you were really thinking about what you said?'; then, more subtly, 'Were you, for example, thinking about it as well as you did last night?' The answer, for reasons I did not then understand, was nearly always No. 'Very well,' said the voice, 'hadn't you, then, better try it over again?' And one obeyed; but of course with no assurance that the second attempt would be any better...I set myself a standard. No clause of my prayer was to be allowed to pass muster unless it was accompanied by what I called a 'realization,' by which I meant a certain vivedness of the imagination and the affections. My nightly task was to produce by sheer will power a phenomenon which will power could never produce, which was so ill-defined that I could never say with absolute confidence whether it had occurred, and which, even when it did occur, was of very mediocre spiritual value.