We are gonna dive right into a topic we thought long and hard about before starting doors of hope. That topic is religion vs spirituality. Most people find this topic hard to talk about and we GET it! Society, especially over the last couple years, has polarized us into extremes with many topics, one of which is religion/faith/spirituality. Not surprisingly, our country can’t seem to find a middle ground here and it has caused a lot of tension between friends, therapists, and society. We believe walking the middle path is important, especially now. We find that many people are either embracing religion or pushing away spirituality but these terms are not completely interchangeable. To better understand, let’s look at the difference of religion vs spirituality.
After ten years of Christian counseling it has become clear that religion is often associated with institutions, outdated info, trauma/abuse, guilt/fear, black and white thinking, and group think. Many individual experiences with religion involve memories of control, guilt, toxic cultural messages, patriarchy/power/oppression, etc. In our opinion, religion has been tainted by society and Institutions make it easy to be so consumed by religion that we neglect the spirit. This has led many individuals to seek out a faith based counselor to help them understand it all and reconstruct their spirituality. Through healthy processing and deconstruction of the layers of religion, most clients have come to find that religion, as defined by the institutions, tends to weigh them down. We are not talking about religious practices like church and prayer, we are talking about religion as a whole societal concept. If religion, as defined above, is something still important to you AND it’s working for you and your family, that is wonderful! Disregard this article. But if you’re still reading, let’s look at how the word spirituality and exploring that may be a better fit. After all, we know language has a huge impact on the meaning we create and how we connect with one another.
According to recent research, religion, which is defined as largely based in self and other judgment as well as trusting only external resources, can be very disturbing to the psyche and our mental health. This is backed by numerous surveys that show more people than ever before are considering themselves spiritual over religious.
When it comes to religion vs. spirituality, spirituality is something we see as more inclusive and individual yet it still helps us make sense of life, purpose, and experiences. It is more internal and acceptance based. It’s the idea that believing in anything is more helpful to our well being than believing in nothing- that there is something bigger than us, usually so big our brains cant comprehend it fully but we try. This may include your own deconstructed preference of religious and cultural teachings, a higher power as you understand Him or Her or It, energy, nature, or maybe you don’t know you just believe that the world or life is too big and beautiful and complex to be a bunch of coincidences that we fully understand. Very few believe in nothing, they just don’t want to associate with religion. Spirituality is also a very internal process-of reaching inward and seeing the parts of you to trust and believe.
Here at doors of hope it’s important that you know we will honor, explore, and encourage your individual spiritual experience, however that looks and is workable to you. Make an appointment with one of our spiritual/mental health specialists today.