Updated: Jul 16, 2019
I don't even know where to start with the sentiment of the attached picture. I decided to re-write it, but I don't think it will fit on that little card.
"Good morning, this is me. I will be taking responsibility for my own life today. I will trust what lies within me to consciously direct my own path, and make choices that are consistent with what matters to me. I will call into action my inner strength to deal with any difficulties, hardships and obstacles that may come my way. I affirm my ability and responsibility to lead an ethical life of personal fulfillment that aspires to the greater good of humanity. That doesn't mean I will necessarily do it alone. I am grateful for the personal encouragement, support and help of my friends and people who care about me. I also know I can turn to people in the helping profession to aid me in situations where what I need is beyond what I can do for myself. I will not be relying on the magical thinking of a sky God who does everything for me.
There is a spiritual component to who I am from which I find deep meaning and empowerment, but it does not carry over into the idea that I'm not capable of being responsible for my own life or that I'm dependent upon a God up in the sky to do it for me. I no longer view self-reliance as a dirty word or the antithesis of what it means to honor the highest truth within myself. So take heart! Believe in yourself and all that you are. You are equipped with a set of human tools such as logical and critical thinking, common sense, problem solving skills, and all the courage and resilience of your human spirit. Yes, you have your whole day ahead of you. You know not all that this day holds. But you've got this!"
There are various ways that religion thwarts a person's ability to consciously direct their lives toward wellbeing and fulfillment. I discuss this at some length in the post Religion as Pathology, and this post from my Beliefs Matter series. I also explore ways that religion hinders normal personal development in the post, Does religion do more harm than good?
In religion recovery or deconversion, it is necessary for a person to develop new tools in four critical areas: PERSONAL AGENCY Personal agency is your ability to take action, be effective, influence your own life, and assume responsibility for your behavior. It's the human capacity to initiate, execute, and control one's own volitional actions in the world. In personality psychology, a similar concept is "locus of control," which is the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control.
Closely tied to the concept of personal agency is "self-efficacy," which is belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. Personal agency relates to the skill of self-management, which is the ability of an individual to regulate their emotions and resulting behaviors in ways that are useful and beneficial for oneself and others. This includes how the individual copes with unmet wants or needs, perseveres when faced with obstacles, and sets goals for themselves. SELF-ACTUALIZATION
Within every human being is a self-actualizing tendency. At the root of our human personhood, we long to grow, evolve, deepen, and expand into the fullness of who we are. Too often religion denies and thwarts this self-actualizing tendency at every turn by demanding that we remain in a very small, tight, limited, and restrictive space. We are made to fear ourselves and our fullness, and fear keeps us from exploring any further than the confined place religion puts us in. You will find as you are shedding religion that this self-actualizing tendency will revive, strengthen, accelerate, and will reach its zenith. Some characteristics of this self-actualization include:
1. Dissatisfaction with one’s staus quo
2. Intolerance of inauthenticity
3. Casting off of rules, regulations, and restrictions
4. Resurgence of individuality
5. Openness to new possibilities
6. Desire to grow, learn, and expand
7. Freedom of self-expression
8. Establishment of personal boundaries
9. Reshaping of one's relational world
10. Greater acceptance and compassion for others
11. Deprogramming of false beliefs and mindsets
12. Grounded in one's own inner truth and guidance
13. Refusal to conform
14. Disdain for superficiality
15. Greater capacity for both sorrow and joy
16. Unwillingness to accept injustice and oppression
17. Deeper connection to nature and all living things
18. Inhabiting the fullness of one's humanity
19. Disinterest in creating or participating in drama
20. Greater ability for complex reasoning
21. Taking responsibility for one's own happiness and well-being
22. Commitment to doing one's personal inner work
23. Nurturing mutually beneficial and healthy relationships
Self-actualization can be seen as similar to words and concepts such as self-discovery, self-reflection, self-realization and self-exploration. This realization of potential can occur in many ways but generally includes the achievement of sound psychological health and a strong sense of fulfillment.
The realization or fulfillment of one's talents and potentialities. Expressing one's creativity, quest for spiritual enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to give to and/or positively transform society are examples of self-actualization. In general, self-actualized people:
- Accept themselves and others. - Maintain deep and meaningful relationships - Can exist autonomously. - Have a sense of humor, particularly an ability to find humor in their own mistakes. - Accurately perceive reality, both as it pertains to the self and others. - Have a sense of purpose and perform regular tasks geared toward that purpose. - Experience frequent moments of profound happiness (often called “peak experiences”). - Demonstrate empathy and compassion for others. - Have an ongoing appreciation of the goodness of life. Some might refer to this trait as childlike wonder.
CRITICAL THINKING Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. Critical thinking has been variously defined as:
The process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion
Disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence
reasonable, reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do
Purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based
A commitment to using reason in the formulation of our belief
The skill and propensity to engage in an activity with reflective scepticism
Disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfection of thinking appropriate to a particular mode or domain of thinking
An appraisal based on careful analytical evaluation
Here are important areas to explore and cultivate when it comes strengthening your relation ship w-with yourself:
Self-awareness (exploring your authentic and innermost thoughts, feelings, beliefs, needs, desires, fears, motivations, patterns, habits, etc...) Self-love (regard for one's own well-being and happiness) Self-acceptance (seeing the totality of yourself without judgment) Self-compassion (extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering) Self-care (actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development.) Self-trust (following what your own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, intuition, judgment, insights, body tells) Self-confidence (empowered to rise to new challenges, seize opportunities, deal with difficult situations, and take responsibility if and when things go awry.) Self-reliance (reliance on one's own abilities, capacities, powers and resources rather than those of others.) Self-efficacy (confidence in one's own ability to achieve intended results) Self-actualization (the realization of one's own maximum potential and possibilities) Self-expression (a display of individuality)
Some people might be alarmed by the repeated word of "self," but that's because religion sufficiently convinced too many people of the false notion that the above things are the equivalent of self-worship or self-centeredness.
RECOVERING FROM RELIGION
Recovering from religion is not a journey you have to walk alone. This is why I created the online course - Life After Religion: A Personal Journey Out. The course supports and guides people in recovering and rebuilding from a damaging religious background. In the course you will learn the steps for: - making peace with your religious past - rooting out toxic religious indoctrination - navigating a crisis of faith - new ways of approaching life's existential questions - learning new tools for personal growth and development - exploring what spirituality is for you. The Life After Religion course was designed to be completed at your own pace. To learn more about the specifics of the course and register to participate, visit this link.