You were the bad guy.

We all want to be “highly evolved souls.” It’s empowering to recall our past lives as High Priestesses or Monks or Medicine Men or Shamans. Those of us who have had these lives, or believe that we must have had these lives, might feel comfortable in our good standing as past healers and teachers and benevolent leaders.

And it’s even easy to have been a victim. Ok, not easy. But, let’s say it’s at least palatable. Many of the past life memories that we carry with us into our current life are unresolved emotional issues from lives in which things did not go so well for us. Memories from these lives become emotional catches that serve us well as we continue to grow and learn in the lives we’ve chosen for this step of our journey. We bring with us, with our souls, the challenges that will serve us most in learning as we continue onward.

So, being a victim? That’s OK in the grand scheme of things. When you meet yourself as a victim, you can find the strength within to stand up strong, forgive those who harmed you, and move forward, free of the bonds and the baggage of having been egregiously wronged and primally wounded by someone else.

Because at least you weren’t the bad guy.

But the thing is: you were the bad guy.

At some point in your evolution as a soul, you were the bad guy. Or if you have just begun your journey as a soul and you haven’t been the bad guy yet — just to give you the heads up — you will be.

In our journey from lifetime to lifetime as a human, we sign up to learn all there is to know about being human. Let’s take love as an example subject. In our study of love we learn about all expressions of love: passionate love, familial love, platonic love, teacher-protégé love. Love of possessions. Love of status. Love of money. Love of power. Love of pain.

Are all these love? Are they all positive?

Then, to fully understand the emotion, we also learn, first hand, about all the expressions of the opposite of love. That means what it feels like to not be loved, and, also, what it feels like to not love.

To “not love.” That is an interesting something in and of itself. The idea alone has so many extensions that it may take lifetimes to explore and understand it fully. Is hatred not love? Yes. And so is oppression. And cruelty. And abuse. And bigotry. And prejudgment. And on and on and on.

In the process of learning “not love” to better understand love, we explore deeply. This means that we choose, for the highest good, to be the object of “not love.” It also means, as hard as this may be to swallow, that we choose to be the giver of “not love.” We raise our hands, compassionately, to go forth as both the victim and the perpetrator.

When we plan our lives, we work with all the other souls we will encounter to continue our journey in conjunct and cooperation with them. We consider cause and effect and balance and shift on a local and, sometimes, even a global scale. We consider what there is to learn and what there is to teach. We consider the greatest good. We consider the big picture. And sometimes, we come to learn, it is for the highest good for us to take on the role of the bad guy.

In one of my own experiences, I pulled the veil off a past life in which I was both a victim and a perpetrator.

I was a boy, born to a poor family in Saxon lands — the youngest after five sisters. My father was a drunk. My mother was hard-working but couldn’t keep up, and she resented my father for continually getting her pregnant, for forcing himself on her even though she knew that they could not feed another baby. We did not have enough to eat. My mother loved me and saw me as hope for our family, as someone who could help work, and who would become the man that my father never was.

My father resented me for the hope I instilled in my mother and sisters, so he brutally beat me. Any time I did something well, he battered me. Any time I failed, he punished me. I could do nothing, either well or not, without facing his fists. And when he was done with me, he beat my mother and sisters. And so, when I was old enough, I ran away. I left my family. I told myself my leaving would be better for them. Really, though, I knew that I was abandoning them. To save myself, I felt I had no choice.

I joined the Saxon army and became a good fighter. With food to nourish me, I became strong. And I also became ruthless. I fought well, moving up the ranks and gaining the respect of my brothers. I was a good fighter, yes, but I was not a good man. I raped and pillaged with the rest of them. I killed easily and kept killing when the killing time was over.

Years later, I returned to my home. I found my mother sick and weary and all but one of my sisters gone, married off to men they didn’t love for money. And I found my father, a drunk bully still, ready to show me who was boss. And so, in one fell swoop, I unsheathed my sword, stepped gracefully off my horse, and stabbed him right through the heart.

My mother and sister screamed. I turned to them, surprised, wondering why they would be upset that I freed them from their tyrant. There was no room for confusion or compassion in my heart, though. I did the only thing I knew how to do. Kill.

I looked at them with that which I thought was love and nodded, “You are free now.” I gave them a purse of gold coins. Then I turned to my men and ordered that they tie my father to the back of my horse. I mounted and rode off, as fast as I could, to a cliff, where I tossed the broken body over to serve as food for the vultures. My work was done.

I lived out the rest of my days as a brutal soldier, and ultimately died in battle, feeling wronged by the gods.

During the healing transformation of this life, I was taken to the time of planning in Spirit Realm before my incarnation as the Saxon. There I witnessed the presentation of the choice I had been given. Plan A and Plan B.

Plan A was the life that I just shared with you.

Plan B showed me being born to a loving mother and sober, hard-working father. I grew up enjoying a modest life. I still became a soldier, but only because it was my duty. I resented fighting. I fell in love with a sweet girl, but we were never to marry. I died as a not-very-good fighter in a battle far from home.

What was clear was that the nicer of the two lives, the one in which I was less fiendish, left work on the table. Not just for my soul, but for all the other people I came into contact with during that life. In Plan B, I did not learn what resentment and hatred felt like, either on the receiving or the giving end. My father did not learn what it meant to know alcoholism, anger, and abuse, nor to die at the hands of his own son. My mother didn’t learn what it meant to be raped by her husband, or to suffer, physically and emotionally, at his hands. Those whom I raped and maimed and tortured did not learn what it meant to experience all of this “not love.”

In that planning room, I understood all this. Then, though I knew it would be a challenging undertaking, I chose Plan A. I signed up for the hard work, willingly, and agreed to be both the victim and the perpetrator in what we humans would classify as a pretty tragic life, not only so that I would learn more as a soul, but so that all the others would too.

I asked for forgiveness from all those I harmed. They gave it, freely and with love. And yes, I forgave my father. I knew that this was simply the role he played to help me grow and learn. His soul wore a mask. Underneath was light and love and a willingness to do what was hard so that he and others, including me, could learn. I saw his mask, and I saw my own. And so I forgave myself too.

Yes, there is free will. And yes, there are people who make choices on the personality level that are harmful to others. But even these cases, on a greater spiritual level, are learning experiences — in real time and upon review. No soul is bad.

The soul, every soul, is love. Even the dark is light. Even the hard is beautiful. Even the most dire, ultimately, is an expression and an opportunity for love.

If, or likely, when, during past life regression work or energy healing, you meet yourself as an unsavory character — as the tyrant or killer or rapist or generally not-nice-person, please do not be quick to judge. First of all, keep in mind that there is no black and white. Life is complicated. Take my Saxon self for example. Would I have been a heartless killer had I not been abused my whole life? Probably not. But more, understand that we all play different roles in different lives. We do this for ourselves and for each other. We do this in love and for love. And we do this voluntarily.

It is simply not true that more “highly evolved” souls are simply too bright to play our world’s villains. Perhaps, I pose, in many cases, it is the strongest among us who love big enough and true enough to take on these roles so that we all might learn.

What if?

Our challenge, as humans, is to see darkness and pain with as much love as with which we regard beauty and peace.

To consider this takes a shift of perspective and an inherent trust in love. The compassion that would result, though, might just change the world.

At the very least, understanding that each of us has been and has the potential to be the bad guy will open our hearts to forgiveness. Stepping back and seeing the bigger picture may help us forgive those who have hurt us, giving us the ability to let go and move on. What’s more, it may be exactly what we need to do what is often harder: forgive ourselves.

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