Archives For Faith and therapy

This week

November 13, 2016
Autumnal walk

Autumnal walk

It’s been a challenging week for so many people in big and small ways. We’re all struggling to find our place in a rapidly changing and uncertain world. This is a good poem to return to again and again.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
By Max Ehrmann

An A-Z for your life – God

February 25, 2013

GodAnd so faithfulness brings us to an idea of God.  It is possible to have some religious beliefs, to have none or to be unsure about what you believe.  Whatever the case it seems a sign of maturity is to give yourself some time to reflect on the questions and come to a sense of truth for yourself.  At some point it is helpful for us to have a sense of why we are here, how we can use our life and what might happen in an afterlife.

For some faiths it is about spreading God’s word whether that is a Jewish, Christian or  an Islamic god.  Other faiths are about peaceful coexistence and views of an afterlife that may include reincarnation.  For some without religious belief it is all about now: we are born, we live and we die.  Some beliefs pay special attention to the individual (Buddhism), the family (Christianity) and the community (Islam).  This is a very simplistic glance at who or what God might be to you.

There are libraries dedicated to the great faiths of the world and I suggest you begin to explore what your beliefs are.  We may develop our faith from the family we are born into, our cultural heritage, as part of the greater culture to which we belong or as a part of a personal journey.  Such soul or spiritual seeking can lead to various experiences of acceptance and rejection by you and to you.  Eventually you may find an approach that feels true to you.

Belief and faith can be very nuanced and individual things as they are not externally provable to those who do not believe.  It is possible to belong to a faith and not believe every aspect of it; some people are more literal than others.  ‘Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.’ Edith Hamilton. 

Myths and stories also play a vital role in elaborating on the human experience.  In my experience faith is not just about good and bad and sin and forgiveness, it could also be about the value of life and stewardship of the earth’s resources or human rights and equality of opportunity for all human beings.  Whatever faith or God we believe in we are human and we are imperfect.  We may have godlike qualities but that is not all of who we are.

I find it sad when people decide against a belief because they have met fallible representatives of that faith.  If we can accept that there are imperfect parents, children, learners, teachers, doctors etc why can’t we accept imperfect believers?  Human imperfections encourage us to trust in our God and not rely on our own limited resources.  Our approach of all or nothing does not give us choices but limits our experiences.

Of course there are those who would say that they have nothing to do with God or belief.  Yet I believe there is that spiritual hole within all of us and we find something to fill it with.  This becomes our god by another name.  As I write this I can think of many such gods including money, politics, sport, art, nature, work, fame and power.  People of faith could also participate in these aspects of life but their motivation and relationship to it would be different.  It is not always what we do but why and how we do it.

So who or what is your god?  What do you believe in and put all your effort into understanding and following?  I am not here to judge you for it but to encourage you to be aware of what it is for yourself.  There is no need to tell the world but it helps you to know what you choose to believe and how that affects your subsequent decisions.  All belief is about faith: nothing will be proved 100% otherwise it would simply be a fact and not a question of faith.  Some of us believe.  Eventually we will know.  Others feel and think that there is nothing to believe.  Find out what you believe and share it with those you care about and who care about you.

Any thoughts?

Faith fateSome of us have faith and this belief helps to hold us in times of uncertainty.  Others believe in fate and that enables them to take an appropriate stance when making plans for their future.  What are we moving forward towards?

For each of us it is something to lean on and it enables us to have hopes, plans, goals and aspirations.  Neither approach guarantees predictability so we can only do our best and leave the rest up to God, fate or spirit – depending on our perspective on things. ‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.’ Martin Luther King Jr.

For some, mindfulness and being in the moment is the best way to approach life.  If your particular personality gets so caught up in worries about the future that you cannot focus on anything in the immediate present then it would benefit you to develop the ability to be in the moment.  If, on the other hand, you have a healthy respect for the present and can give it the attention it deserves then you might want to develop the ability to have an eye on your future and appreciate how your current choices might impact on your future.  Not in such a way that it paralyses you from doing anything, but just that you weigh up things and make the best choice you are capable of.

When I worked as a school’s careers adviser I remember some of the more academic students being particularly stressed about their future.  They expected so much of themselves that they seemed to want guarantees that, for example, a language degree would get them to the UN or a business degree would get them a career in the City of London.  Neither faith nor fate can tell us what will happen to us in our lifetime.  In The Soul’s Code, James Hillman speaks of life being ‘foreordained yet not foretold.’

So do you have faith in anyone or anything?  How do you keep hope when the evidence is not always visible?  Are you so scared of being disappointed that you believe in nothing and no one?  How does that affect your day-to-day choices?  Is this an area you would like to explore in more detail?  Leave a comment here and have the conversation with the people in your life.