Author Topic: Getting by without God  (Read 526 times)

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Offline Emma286

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Getting by without God
« on: June 05, 2017, 12:26:07 PM »
Of course, one of the reasons people get so easily get sucked into following religion is because they feel in great need of help/comfort. This can easily be because of overwhelming negative events in their lives over which they feel they have little to no control. It can also be when they feel they can't turn to family/friends for support or don't have family/friends to turn to for support to start with.

Regarding those here who used to strongly believe in/follow Christianity (or similar), but became disillusioned and left their religion/those  who never felt the need to follow any religion for such a reason to start with, I would be very interested to hear of any specific alternative approaches/methods you use to cope as best as you can with the life difficulties that come at you whenever they become overwhelming/tough to cope with.

:-)

Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2017, 03:08:00 PM »
Of course, one of the reasons people get so easily get sucked into following religion is because they feel in great need of help/comfort. This can easily be because of overwhelming negative events in their lives over which they feel they have little to no control. It can also be when they feel they can't turn to family/friends for support or don't have family/friends to turn to for support to start with.

Regarding those here who used to strongly believe in/follow Christianity (or similar), but became disillusioned and left their religion/those  who never felt the need to follow any religion for such a reason to start with, I would be very interested to hear of any specific alternative approaches/methods you use to cope as best as you can with the life difficulties that come at you whenever they become overwhelming/tough to cope with.

:-)

Great question.  And for some of us, we're type B personalities.  It's very, very hard for me to just sign in to a Meet Up group and show up at a bar to discuss issues with strangers.  But let's face facts - a great way to overcome difficulties is to get involved.  Do work for Special Olympics, work at soup kitchens, do charity work, join your local Freedom From Religion Foundation chapter.  I mention these four for starters because you're likely to be dealing with loving, caring people who's objective isn't to be overly competitive.  You can join cooking, language classes, etc., but there are bound to be people there that are the uber competitive types whose mission is to make themselves feel great and bring you down in the process.  If you don't mind that type of personality, that's another way to cope.  Me - I like going where people just want to help others - preferably in a secular environment.

I hope I didn't misinterpret your question - were you asking, essentially, where can you go to replace that sense of community that vanishes once you leave the church?

Offline shnozzola

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2017, 05:32:01 PM »
Emma,
   I was as religious as the next guy I suppose, and didn't "leave" because of any anger.  As I got older, I just looked at things with an open mind and realized god doesn't seem to exist.

   I think I have an overabundance of serotonin, or epinephrine, or whatever chemical makes one unnecessarily delighted, but I continue to view life in that way.  The closest I can explain it is, with my interpretation of Jesus' words  - "lose yourself and follow me". 

   I interpret this wisdom to mean - forget about yourself, your circumstances, and go and find people that aren't enjoying life, and help them have fun.   Spend so much time in other people's shoes that you are no longer able to find your own.  Realize that enjoying strawberries, or jumping in mud puddles, or running as fast as you possibly can - at 7, or 26, or 49, or 79 years old - in other words, continually viewing life as a child as much as you possibly can - is what makes life most worthwhile to live.  Never worry about a thing, and when your arms and legs have been cut off and you can only put the paintbrush in your mouth - paint a Rembrandt, while you cry for people that are less fortunate than you.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2017, 05:36:55 PM by shnozzola »
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Online wright

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2017, 09:18:37 PM »
I live with chronic depression. It's usually low-level, but can build to crippling levels, to when even mailing bills and returning phone calls is beyond me.

When I became a Christian in the early 90s, the initial novelty and my new social contacts helped alleviate my deepest lows, and I attributed anything good in my life to my SPAG. So realizing I was gradually losing my faith was a bit frightening. But I soon realized that the various means I had learned to cope with depression (socializing, exercise, writing) were my own doing, not a deity's. This actually bolstered my self-confidence quite a bit.

Another trick I use is to ask myself how a fictional or real-life hero would deal with a given situation. Attempting to look at a problem with someone else' eyes usually gives me a helpful perspective.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Online jetson

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2017, 07:22:39 AM »
I can't connect with religion from a help/comfort/support perspective. In fact, I find it extremely bizarre that people "love" Jesus, or "have him in their hearts" as many claim. The closest I can get to that type of emotion is with the memories of my mother, who died in 2015. My mother only exists in my memories, and most of those thoughts are just wishing she was still alive. Those times when I feel overwhelmed, I can talk about it with my spouse or my son. I can count on my sisters to understand and support me when I'm down about it.

As far as daily life and the ups and downs, it's direct family mostly. I also have a very close friend (female) who share's so many similar emotions to mine (she's gay). We talk about almost anything and I am always amazed at how similar her relationship and family issues are to mine. I have a songwriting partner who totally gets my emotional attachment to creating music and my dreams of sharing our music with anyone who cares to listen (we're too old to be rock stars, but we act like we are exactly that!).

I have colleagues that I share work-related issues with from time to time. It's a bit insular I suppose, but no one really loves the work anyway, so we cope by sharing our grievances and concerns as they come and go.

The WWGHA community has been a source of support for me as well. Yes, it has changed over the years, but it has been something that I use to share my thoughts and hear others talk about religion and other topics. It's amazing to me that people can have relationships online and never actually meet in person. I have met some people over the years (perhaps 3?) and the experience has always been very positive. Speaking of that, where the hell is Parking Places? I need to check in with him privately (just sent him an email!)

In thinking about it, I can't really judge those who use religion for support/comfort, etc. I mean, it's made up of humans who will bond if they spend enough time together. But that is true with Alcoholics Anonymous as well. Or any group for that matter. To me, the baggage that comes with a group who expect you to believe in an actual god is too much. I can talk, be friends with, or otherwise hang out with believers, but I'll never cross over to their belief system.

Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2017, 11:02:17 AM »
It's tough.  Part of what I've had to do is try to change the way I think.  Reality is not... fun...  change keeps happening, and it's often not "good change" after maybe you're in your 30s.   As a guy, I've had to go through some tough stuff without much support from friends.   I believe there was one time where I'd go weeks without a hug or a touch, which I was surprised how much I missed it when it wasn't there.   You go through something bad, you wake up every day dealing with an awful problem alone, with a reality that isn't changing... it's tough.

The truth however, is that my best friends in life have always been the sort that don't rely on religion as a foundation of our friendship.   Even my friends who are religious, I could possibly talk to them in a pinch... being a guy, we can sometimes go months without talking to each other and it's no big deal... but none of those guys are overly religious.

When I was religious, I did try to lean on prayer, and Jesus, and the church, to get me through a tough time.   It was this time that over and over again proved that God is Imaginary.   

I was diving in, openly, trying anything that any church leader might suggest... I was totally open in faith and hope and praying all the time, for months and months.  I was working with one of the church leaders, getting through a hard time...   I mean... if one of those guys had handed me a feather and suggested I could fly with my ears, I would have tried it.

I started to notice stuff.

- The different church leaders, all claiming to be lead by the spirit, said different, contradictory things.

- One church leader told me, probably at the lowest point of my life, when I was crying in his office, that, "He hoped God would truly break me."   (I guess so God could rebuild me, or so that I didn't try to maintain any control over my life?   These guys were big on not steering your own life at all... just walking around blindfolded, hoping God would let church leaders tell you what to do?)

I kept strongly feeling like the people at the church who offered to help (and who it was part of their paid job description, to whom I'd donated weekly for years), just didn't get it.  They weren't in tune with what was actually happening.

I remember thinking that I was at about my lowest point I'd ever been, and this guy was hoping it'd get worse?   That was definitely a moment that let me see into the way these folks think.   I think I went home and googled "why doesn't prayer work?" and found the GII videos and felt heartbroken to admit to myself that they were correct.

"The Greatest Optical Illusion In the World" where God is compared to a Jug of Milk was the first one I saw, then "10 Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer"

The thing is...  the comfort/support offered by prayer, and my my old church, it was all bullshit.   Had it been actual, real "something", I'd still be a believer and I'd still be going there.   I couldn't do like other people do and pretend like the trite, fortune cookie sayings that church leaders spout off were adequate.

The conversations that helped me the most were real conversations with real friends, (most of whom were casual or non-believers), who knew me, gave real advice, listened...

They didn't crack open a Bible or pull out a 3rd Grade worksheet on forgiveness or shoehorn me into some parable...   they actually listened, actually cared, actually gave logical advice.   Regular people, non Christians, who cared enough to listen, seemed to get the situation and offer useful advice.

I took that advice and pulled through my tough time and got back on my feet again.   I've enjoyed lots of things since then.   

I came away feeling that the church was worse than useless.  That the church actually did more harm than good (having gone back and read books on the subject, they were way off, and really kept me in a bad situation longer than was necessary).

If you need comfort and support... maybe PM someone that you've started to trust on a forum like this one... maybe take a walk with a friend... maybe join a gym and get in shape or take bike rides to get your mind off the bad stuff...

There's not much that can be done for someone that has a terminal illness, other than trying to enjoy what time they have left at the best quality possible, but, even people in that circumstance can try to plan a last trip, or visit people they want to see for a last time, or whatever.

Life just isn't what we'd like it to be, I think.   Everyone would enjoy winning the power-ball lottery, traveling the world, and living to be a healthy 120 years old, looking great the whole time, and dying in your sleep when you've done it all and you're bored of going on.
You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2017, 02:07:49 PM »
I believe there was one time where I'd go weeks without a hug or a touch, which I was surprised how much I missed it when it wasn't there.   You go through something bad, you wake up every day dealing with an awful problem alone, with a reality that isn't changing... it's tough.

Most that are in their 20s can never understand that.  Being 48, I completely get where you're coming from here.

Quote
Life just isn't what we'd like it to be, I think.   Everyone would enjoy winning the power-ball lottery, traveling the world, and living to be a healthy 120 years old, looking great the whole time, and dying in your sleep when you've done it all and you're bored of going on.

And of course, most people aren't bored with the idea of perpetually going on, and want immortality.  How much of a role do you think movies and romance novels have both in thinking life should be perfect, and that we will live forever? 


Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2017, 02:47:57 PM »
I believe there was one time where I'd go weeks without a hug or a touch, which I was surprised how much I missed it when it wasn't there.   You go through something bad, you wake up every day dealing with an awful problem alone, with a reality that isn't changing... it's tough.

Most that are in their 20s can never understand that.  Being 48, I completely get where you're coming from here.

Quote
Life just isn't what we'd like it to be, I think.   Everyone would enjoy winning the power-ball lottery, traveling the world, and living to be a healthy 120 years old, looking great the whole time, and dying in your sleep when you've done it all and you're bored of going on.

And of course, most people aren't bored with the idea of perpetually going on, and want immortality.  How much of a role do you think movies and romance novels have both in thinking life should be perfect, and that we will live forever?

I don't know if this'll answer your question but the problem I find often in people is that they go from one extreme to another.  Movies and romance novels are art that reflects life and life reflects art... so, I don't know which came first exactly, but it's a cycle.

The issue is the extremes.

Let's say a couple is getting along great, but, one person needs a bit of quiet, alone time just to refocus and recenter their thinking and really appreciate what they've got.  It can be hard to do that when every day is chaos.   So you get the other person saying, "You want space?  Here's all the space in the world!  It's over."

Let's say that a mother is trying to control every aspect of keeping her child safe, and, something terrible happens and she loses her kid... now maybe she falls heavily into religion and her mantra is that we have no control over anything ever, and must hand all control over to God.

Let's say you had a bad experience with one police officer...  now 100% of all police officers are abusive pigs and you're protesting.  (not you, specifically... just, this is how people are)

Look at, say, believers like Sye Ten... who insists that if you can't be absolutely sure of anything, then, you don't know anything at all.

To your example, the damage that romantic movies and novels can do is to make people think, "If I no longer feel butterflies, then this guy must not have been 'the one' so, that must mean the guy at work who is giving me butterflies is probably 'the one'."    You combine the evolutionary drive where the body helps with relationship building for a couple years, by releasing dopamine, with magical thinking, and you have the cause for a lot of divorce.

It's not that people should stay in abusive marriages... but, it's that they jump from normal relationship to normal relationship, having the same problems every few years, but dragging their kids and ex-spouses through the financial pitfalls with them.

The way I look at it is that everyone needs to make adjustments to get through life, and these adjustments can often be small.


If your house is too cold.  You don't have to set it on fire.

If your house is too hot.  You don't have to knock down the walls.

If your relationship doesn't feel tingles anymore.  Therapy might help... it's pretty normal.

If you have a bad relationship with a co-worker.  Talking to them, instead of trying to passive-aggressively get them fired, might work.


And where this plays in with God and the Church is that religious leaders want you to think that "control is an illusion" and that "we have no control over our lives" and that "only God has control, so trust him."   (and this can often lead to the religious leaders being able to manipulate the parish as well)

Do we have 100% control over our lives?   Of course not.

Do we have 0% control over our lives?  Of course not.

We're the captains of our ship, and we can chart our course, but, we can't control the storms and waves around us, just how we deal with them or avoid them.

The point is... it's really, really, really dangerous to want to control everything, or to give up and want to control nothing, trusting some imaginary sky being.

If you actually took Carrie Underwood's advice and closed your eyes and took your hands off the wheel during an icy spinout, you'd be far more likely to die than if you did intelligent things to try to minimize the spin and regain control of the vehicle.

You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2017, 10:04:21 AM »
Do we have 100% control over our lives?   Of course not.

Do we have 0% control over our lives?  Of course not.

We're the captains of our ship, and we can chart our course, but, we can't control the storms and waves around us, just how we deal with them or avoid them.

The point is... it's really, really, really dangerous to want to control everything, or to give up and want to control nothing, trusting some imaginary sky being.

If you actually took Carrie Underwood's advice and closed your eyes and took your hands off the wheel during an icy spinout, you'd be far more likely to die than if you did intelligent things to try to minimize the spin and regain control of the vehicle.

I really appreciate the response - it's a great one.  Non-religious people often give up on relationships too quickly because everything has to be magical, as you say, or, the religious people entrust God with everything.  As you're pointing out, neither works well because everyone has peaks and valleys in life.  Those valleys are really going to be depressing if you're not prepared or expecting them.  I love your Carrie Underwood comment.  I remember when I went skydiving with some Christians at a church event, I was joking when we were in the plane that I would yell out "Jesus take the wheeeeeeeeeel!!....." as I flew out the plane.  The fact that I was mocking that song, as a believer, was definitely a warning sign.

Offline velkyn

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2017, 11:11:41 AM »
one of things I do is what a English/speech prof taught me.  He was a special forces Vietnam vet and he told me "if they aren't shooting at you, it's really not that bad, is it?"   I just try to realize that "this too shall pass"  and realize I've been through worse and survived.  sometimes it doesnt' feel great but it has gotten me through a lot of nastiness, especially when we were trying to find the right drug cocktail for my husband's bipolar.
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Offline Emma286

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2017, 06:01:13 AM »
Great question.  And for some of us, we're type B personalities.  It's very, very hard for me to just sign in to a Meet Up group and show up at a bar to discuss issues with strangers.  But let's face facts - a great way to overcome difficulties is to get involved.  Do work for Special Olympics, work at soup kitchens, do charity work, join your local Freedom From Religion Foundation chapter.  I mention these four for starters because you're likely to be dealing with loving, caring people who's objective isn't to be overly competitive.  You can join cooking, language classes, etc., but there are bound to be people there that are the uber competitive types whose mission is to make themselves feel great and bring you down in the process.  If you don't mind that type of personality, that's another way to cope.  Me - I like going where people just want to help others - preferably in a secular environment.

I hope I didn't misinterpret your question - were you asking, essentially, where can you go to replace that sense of community that vanishes once you leave the church?

Heya YouCantHandleTheTruth

Nope, I wasn't asking that specific kind of question but can certainly appreciate why you got that impression! :-) My earlier post does kind of read like I'm help seeking! Am also sure that it's not uncommon that those who once belonged to a church (who have left) do try and reach out for advice/help to regain the sense of community they no longer have.

I was just curious/interested to see what different coping ways different people have come up with. I was thinking, at the same time,  that if anyone mentioned anything that stood out as something that I could add to my own set of coping strategies then I'd definitely consider doing that! But I was also just interested to hear (or rather read hehe) what people might have to say on this anyways.

I do agree with you on getting involved with one's community. I currently have a part time voluntary job (although it is part time to the degree that I don't go in any more often than a couple of times a month). Ironically enough this is for a religious charity, but luckily I don't have to get involved with any religious activity. I am at a point of wanting to leave (in short the management aren't good at their job which affects how well I can do my job and I need to now start looking around for something more in line with my paid job goals now anyways) am likely going to start looking around for another voluntary job in the near future) but it has felt good, at times, to have good reason to see I've made some positive difference to the service users. It's also been good to work with some of the people I have. There have been times that getting out of the house, to go to this job, has definitely done me good st times I'd have otherwise just stayed indoors and dwelled on upsetting or depressing things. Volunteering can be a very good distraction, and you're doing others good at the same time.

Many thanks for posting all those suggestions, much appreciated! :-) I prefer to go places where others just want to help others too. I can have my competitive feeling moments, but generally I'm not especially competitive. I do think, sadly, once I'm back in paid work I'm not going to be able to avoid competitive bully types to a point. Guess all I can do then, though, is just aim to have as little to do with them as possible.

Offline Emma286

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2017, 06:40:08 AM »
Emma,
   I was as religious as the next guy I suppose, and didn't "leave" because of any anger.  As I got older, I just looked at things with an open mind and realized god doesn't seem to exist.

   I think I have an overabundance of serotonin, or epinephrine, or whatever chemical makes one unnecessarily delighted, but I continue to view life in that way.  The closest I can explain it is, with my interpretation of Jesus' words  - "lose yourself and follow me". 

   I interpret this wisdom to mean - forget about yourself, your circumstances, and go and find people that aren't enjoying life, and help them have fun.   Spend so much time in other people's shoes that you are no longer able to find your own.  Realize that enjoying strawberries, or jumping in mud puddles, or running as fast as you possibly can - at 7, or 26, or 49, or 79 years old - in other words, continually viewing life as a child as much as you possibly can - is what makes life most worthwhile to live.  Never worry about a thing, and when your arms and legs have been cut off and you can only put the paintbrush in your mouth - paint a Rembrandt, while you cry for people that are less fortunate than you.

Another great idea there shnozzola! Thanka for taking the time to share. Thinking I'll definitely be giving that one a try!

Offline Emma286

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2017, 07:13:04 AM »
K, unfortunately having to log off just now but promise that I will respond further in here when I next can. In the meantime many thanks to everyone (who I've not yet thanked) for taking the time to leave your responses! ;-)

Offline Emma286

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2017, 02:01:56 PM »
I live with chronic depression. It's usually low-level, but can build to crippling levels, to when even mailing bills and returning phone calls is beyond me.

When I became a Christian in the early 90s, the initial novelty and my new social contacts helped alleviate my deepest lows, and I attributed anything good in my life to my SPAG. So realizing I was gradually losing my faith was a bit frightening. But I soon realized that the various means I had learned to cope with depression (socializing, exercise, writing) were my own doing, not a deity's. This actually bolstered my self-confidence quite a bit.

Another trick I use is to ask myself how a fictional or real-life hero would deal with a given situation. Attempting to look at a problem with someone else' eyes usually gives me a helpful perspective.

Thanks for sharing Wright. I live with long term up and down depression myself, so can appreciate where you're coming from when you describe the crippling levels it can build to. I've been affected in the same kind of ways at times in the past, and still get times like that.

I take it you're meaning that this is what led you to turn to Christianity? If so, thinking I can appreciate why. When I was going through a bad period with depression in 2013 (I'm pretty sure) I did end up trying to turn to a couple of priests in a local church because of feeling so desperate for help (after having lost confidence pretty much completely in local NHS mental health services). If not for having already having certain doubts in my mind, about the religion, I might have well ended up doing the same kind of thing.

I'm very glad to know that you were able to reach a point when you realised you were much more self sufficient/capable than you'd realised. Also thinking that the trick you mentioned is a good idea.  Coincidentally enough, a book I'm reading right now suggests just the same kind of thing. Thinking I'll definitely give that idea a try! :-) Many thanks for sharing again.

Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2017, 02:51:03 PM »
I don't know how to gauge this because I'm not in anyone else's head.   But I've often wondered... doesn't everyone battle anxiety and depression?

I've read that anger and depression are tied to your expectations, and how closely those expectations reflect reality.   So, if you're a homeless waif in Africa, running from armed militia, avoiding rape or torture... you've already lost your family...  a good day is maybe finding a great meal, or laughing with some friends over food you purchased with a stolen wallet, or whatever.

Your expectations for your health, for your life, are so low that, things that would crush other people are just an ordinary day for you.

On the flip side, take some famous actors who have squandered everything with drug abuse and early deaths.  They battle severe depression when life doesn't live up to what they are used to, and they get bored with the most amazing thrills, and are easily knocked off track.

The rest of us are maybe somewhere in the middle...  we try to enjoy life, keeping things in balance, appreciating what we've got, trying to add some new thrills and excitement too... but it's this.

1 - We're all getting older, and moving past our primes if we're past our 30s.
2 - We're all going to die.
3 - All of us probably wish we could count on our friends or relatives a little more.
4 - All of us probably wish we could be understood a little more.
5 - All of us probably wish life wasn't so much constant work for what is ultimately fleeting.

Even periods of less stress, and good times, can become worrisome once you're old enough to realize that none of that will last forever, one way or another.

Looking back at things like, what we used to be able to do... or wasted opportunities... things like that hurt.   Great TV shows can entertain us but it can be depressing to think about the time we've wasted... or what we'd have liked to do instead if we just had the money.

On Christian forums, you'd think you'd just run into shiny, happy people holding hands... but, you don't.

They're depressed because they want pre-marital sex.
They're depressed because they're not good enough for Jesus.
They're depressed because they have doubts.
They're depressed because they have some sin that they can't battle... like "being gay".
They're depressed because they're addicted to something like Fantasy Football and it's taking their mind away from Jesus.

I wonder sometimes if the difference between a person diagnosed with medical depression and anxiety and a person not diagnosed is just the difference in thinking about things... tools in our brains to deal with difficult situations.

I have a "phobia" and I recognize that it's nearly impossible to overcome those kinds of thoughts, but, I do know that there are things I can do to improve how I think about it... and I have... and, I've made progress that way rather than let some MD put me on a drug that might cause a million other unwanted side-effects.    I like who I am, and, I don't want to change who I am with drugs.   I recognize that my "phobia" comes from certain frustrating expectations that are not met, and therefore make it hard for me to trust and relax on a certain subject.   I want to believe my expectations are realistic or possible... but, maybe the way society is, they're not.

For a similar example, it'd be perfectly reasonable for a gay person to expect society to tolerate and accept their lifestyle, and be frustrated that X% of people can't seem to do that, for no good reason... and that person might develop a social anxiety because their expectations for "what life should be" don't match "what life is".

Or... many relationships break up because the expectations for what a relationship should be like after 10 years don't match reality... and the fine line is...  "when am I settling for less than I should be" vs  "when am I being unreasonable and expecting too much".   We all tend to expect too much I think. 

Maybe that's the key?   I get depressed, or anxious or angry sometimes, but, in general, I feel like I'm doing the best I can, and I like who I am.   If someone else doesn't like who I am, that's ok... I'm not insulted too much... just move on and find someone who does like who I am.

Believing as many true things and as few false things as possible can be a great tool to combat anxiety and depression... even though reality isn't exactly what I want, I can slowly adjust my thinking to match reality, and therefore, suffer less anxiety and depression.

But even if you talk to happy old couples or bubbly extroverts or rich people... in their honest moments, most of them feel shy, anxious about certain things, battle depression.

It's all of us.   So... if you struggle with it, good for you, you're ok.   It's ok to not be perfect.   Like who you are anyway.

Referring to a PM I had recently...  if you're afraid of public speaking, and you tell a joke, and it bombs...  the danger is thinking that everyone is looking at you like you're a fool or an idiot with no sense of humor.   Instead, consider how difficult it is to make a crowd of people laugh.  Stand up comics, who do this professionally, bomb all the time.    Our expectations on ourselves are too high, and this can lead to getting in our own way.

I don't say this because I'm great at it... I say it because I screw this stuff up myself, and I've thought about it long enough to write a post like this.

(which is a strong motivation why I post against religious delusion... the whole "you're a filthy sinner without this brand of faith" philosophy)







« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 02:55:26 PM by YRM_DM »
You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline velkyn

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2017, 03:16:16 PM »
everyone does have anxiety and depression.  It's when you have it again and again and again, and never get better. 

I think it's that a sufferer needs that external help. and drugs don't always change who you are. I want to be me without anxiety and that often takes an Ativan or a cup of kava.   
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Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2017, 03:58:35 PM »
For a similar example, it'd be perfectly reasonable for a gay person to expect society to tolerate and accept their lifestyle, and be frustrated that X% of people can't seem to do that, for no good reason... and that person might develop a social anxiety because their expectations for "what life should be" don't match "what life is".

Or... many relationships break up because the expectations for what a relationship should be like after 10 years don't match reality... and the fine line is...  "when am I settling for less than I should be" vs  "when am I being unreasonable and expecting too much".   We all tend to expect too much I think. 

Maybe that's the key?   I get depressed, or anxious or angry sometimes, but, in general, I feel like I'm doing the best I can, and I like who I am.   If someone else doesn't like who I am, that's ok... I'm not insulted too much... just move on and find someone who does like who I am.

It's all of us.   So... if you struggle with it, good for you, you're ok.   It's ok to not be perfect.   Like who you are anyway.

Referring to a PM I had recently...  if you're afraid of public speaking, and you tell a joke, and it bombs...  the danger is thinking that everyone is looking at you like you're a fool or an idiot with no sense of humor.   Instead, consider how difficult it is to make a crowd of people laugh.  Stand up comics, who do this professionally, bomb all the time.    Our expectations on ourselves are too high, and this can lead to getting in our own way.

This was a great post for many reasons, but I really think you hit the nail on the head when it comes to depression.  I hadn't really thought much about the root causes in the way you did here.  I'm sure there is a large part of depression that is due to the "it's all relative" aspect of life.  Our expectations - aren't so many of them tied to "keeping up with the Joneses?"

I remember back when I was a believer, a friend of mine (still a believer) said that he went on a mission trip to Nigeria and was struck with the friendliness of the people there.  They were coming up to him and talking with him casually.  At times, he would have to tell them he was in a hurry but would catch up with them that night (it was a village).  He even felt guilty about that because the people there were so nice and not in a hurry.  They weren't stressed - they enjoyed the little things in life.  So even though they had little, they seemed very happy.  Of course, part of that could be that they felt they were going to be in heaven forever, and that this life paled in comparison to the eternity that awaited them.  As is often pointed out, the most religious countries in the world are often the poorest.

Offline Emma286

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #17 on: July 04, 2017, 01:37:15 AM »
I can't connect with religion from a help/comfort/support perspective. In fact, I find it extremely bizarre that people "love" Jesus, or "have him in their hearts" as many claim. The closest I can get to that type of emotion is with the memories of my mother, who died in 2015. My mother only exists in my memories, and most of those thoughts are just wishing she was still alive. Those times when I feel overwhelmed, I can talk about it with my spouse or my son. I can count on my sisters to understand and support me when I'm down about it.

As far as daily life and the ups and downs, it's direct family mostly. I also have a very close friend (female) who share's so many similar emotions to mine (she's gay). We talk about almost anything and I am always amazed at how similar her relationship and family issues are to mine. I have a songwriting partner who totally gets my emotional attachment to creating music and my dreams of sharing our music with anyone who cares to listen (we're too old to be rock stars, but we act like we are exactly that!).

I have colleagues that I share work-related issues with from time to time. It's a bit insular I suppose, but no one really loves the work anyway, so we cope by sharing our grievances and concerns as they come and go.

The WWGHA community has been a source of support for me as well. Yes, it has changed over the years, but it has been something that I use to share my thoughts and hear others talk about religion and other topics. It's amazing to me that people can have relationships online and never actually meet in person. I have met some people over the years (perhaps 3?) and the experience has always been very positive. Speaking of that, where the hell is Parking Places? I need to check in with him privately (just sent him an email!)

In thinking about it, I can't really judge those who use religion for support/comfort, etc. I mean, it's made up of humans who will bond if they spend enough time together. But that is true with Alcoholics Anonymous as well. Or any group for that matter. To me, the baggage that comes with a group who expect you to believe in an actual god is too much. I can talk, be friends with, or otherwise hang out with believers, but I'll never cross over to their belief system.

Thanks for sharing Jetson. I'm sure there's probably more than one reason as to why people turn to Christianity from a help/comfort/support perspective. Some people holding priest/vicar positions can actually be very decent people in general and make empathetic good listeners. Also, not being familiar or very familiar with the bible (in combination with believing positive hype heard from people they know) is something that I'm sure must at least sometimes contribute to these things. Rationalising away negatives in the bible while focusing on what positive messages seem to be there is something else I'm sure must contribute.

Thinking it makes total sense that you turn to family/friends/colleagues as relevant. I think that's cool that you hold such a passion for music by the way! Good for you! :-)

Offline Emma286

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2017, 02:24:10 PM »
It's tough.  Part of what I've had to do is try to change the way I think.  Reality is not... fun...  change keeps happening, and it's often not "good change" after maybe you're in your 30s.   As a guy, I've had to go through some tough stuff without much support from friends.   I believe there was one time where I'd go weeks without a hug or a touch, which I was surprised how much I missed it when it wasn't there.   You go through something bad, you wake up every day dealing with an awful problem alone, with a reality that isn't changing... it's tough.

The truth however, is that my best friends in life have always been the sort that don't rely on religion as a foundation of our friendship.   Even my friends who are religious, I could possibly talk to them in a pinch... being a guy, we can sometimes go months without talking to each other and it's no big deal... but none of those guys are overly religious.

When I was religious, I did try to lean on prayer, and Jesus, and the church, to get me through a tough time.   It was this time that over and over again proved that God is Imaginary.   

I was diving in, openly, trying anything that any church leader might suggest... I was totally open in faith and hope and praying all the time, for months and months.  I was working with one of the church leaders, getting through a hard time...   I mean... if one of those guys had handed me a feather and suggested I could fly with my ears, I would have tried it.

I started to notice stuff.

- The different church leaders, all claiming to be lead by the spirit, said different, contradictory things.

- One church leader told me, probably at the lowest point of my life, when I was crying in his office, that, "He hoped God would truly break me."   (I guess so God could rebuild me, or so that I didn't try to maintain any control over my life?   These guys were big on not steering your own life at all... just walking around blindfolded, hoping God would let church leaders tell you what to do?)

I kept strongly feeling like the people at the church who offered to help (and who it was part of their paid job description, to whom I'd donated weekly for years), just didn't get it.  They weren't in tune with what was actually happening.

I remember thinking that I was at about my lowest point I'd ever been, and this guy was hoping it'd get worse?   That was definitely a moment that let me see into the way these folks think.   I think I went home and googled "why doesn't prayer work?" and found the GII videos and felt heartbroken to admit to myself that they were correct.

"The Greatest Optical Illusion In the World" where God is compared to a Jug of Milk was the first one I saw, then "10 Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer"

The thing is...  the comfort/support offered by prayer, and my my old church, it was all bullshit.   Had it been actual, real "something", I'd still be a believer and I'd still be going there.   I couldn't do like other people do and pretend like the trite, fortune cookie sayings that church leaders spout off were adequate.

The conversations that helped me the most were real conversations with real friends, (most of whom were casual or non-believers), who knew me, gave real advice, listened...

They didn't crack open a Bible or pull out a 3rd Grade worksheet on forgiveness or shoehorn me into some parable...   they actually listened, actually cared, actually gave logical advice.   Regular people, non Christians, who cared enough to listen, seemed to get the situation and offer useful advice.

I took that advice and pulled through my tough time and got back on my feet again.   I've enjoyed lots of things since then.   

I came away feeling that the church was worse than useless.  That the church actually did more harm than good (having gone back and read books on the subject, they were way off, and really kept me in a bad situation longer than was necessary).

If you need comfort and support... maybe PM someone that you've started to trust on a forum like this one... maybe take a walk with a friend... maybe join a gym and get in shape or take bike rides to get your mind off the bad stuff...

There's not much that can be done for someone that has a terminal illness, other than trying to enjoy what time they have left at the best quality possible, but, even people in that circumstance can try to plan a last trip, or visit people they want to see for a last time, or whatever.

Life just isn't what we'd like it to be, I think.   Everyone would enjoy winning the power-ball lottery, traveling the world, and living to be a healthy 120 years old, looking great the whole time, and dying in your sleep when you've done it all and you're bored of going on.

Thanks for sharing YRM_DM. Sorry to hear about those church experiences. Sounds to me like you went through a pretty tough time of it!
I'm glad to know that there were non Christian friends that you were able to turn to, who could help as they did.

Appreciate your suggestions also! Will certainly bear some of that in mind. I agree, that exercise can certainly help with feeling low. I definitely find that when I walk or go to a local gym, I tend to feel a fair bit better afterwards. It certainly seems to often lift my mood!

one of things I do is what a English/speech prof taught me.  He was a special forces Vietnam vet and he told me "if they aren't shooting at you, it's really not that bad, is it?"   I just try to realize that "this too shall pass"  and realize I've been through worse and survived.  sometimes it doesnt' feel great but it has gotten me through a lot of nastiness, especially when we were trying to find the right drug cocktail for my husband's bipolar.

Good idea there Velkyn! I'll bear that in mind also, thanks! ;-)


Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2017, 09:21:00 AM »
Quote
Thanks for sharing YRM_DM. Sorry to hear about those church experiences. Sounds to me like you went through a pretty tough time of it!
I'm glad to know that there were non Christian friends that you were able to turn to, who could help as they did.

Appreciate your suggestions also! Will certainly bear some of that in mind. I agree, that exercise can certainly help with feeling low. I definitely find that when I walk or go to a local gym, I tend to feel a fair bit better afterwards. It certainly seems to often lift my mood!

I think for me... new experiences, friends, accomplishing something... all of those things help me to battle depression.   So it's not just exercise for me... it's feeling like my fitness level is improving, or... it's not just friends, but, feeling like I've improved a relationship or had a new experience...

I read somewhere that basic human needs can factor in, like... health, partnership, shelter, finances (as tied to things you need to survive)...  so if you are moving forward with a relationship, or you've done something to make your job more secure, or improve your home, or improve your health... those things all sort of tie together.

If you're battling pre-diabetes, for example, you might not just switch one thing, you'd eat less sugar, less white carbs, smaller portions, more fiber, more blueberries, more veggies, more spinach, more protein, and get more exercise...  and the combination of what you're giving up and what you're doing instead will have a big impact.

If you're battling depression, for example... you might take that same wide ranging approach.   Change diet, change exercise, write a list of goals, think about the root causes where you seem stuck... and start making a handful of small changes.   

Just the act of not sitting by and hoping it'll change will feel good.   You can feel proud of all those things, and, as you're doing it... maybe you're slowing down to enjoy the experiences... suppose exercise is a 20 mile bike ride along the trails and you enjoy the view.

And I appreciate what you said about the church... it was very painful... it was like... they might as well have handed me a feather, told me to hold it in my elephant nose, and told me that it would help me fly.   I don't want therapists or church-leaders or whomever to help me stay stuck in bad feelings and bad situation and help to analyze them...  I want to get to a better place first, THEN go back and analyze what went wrong to avoid making those mistakes again. 

Ironically, the long bike rides that I was taking while waiting for my appointments at the church were far more useful to me.

I get that terminal illness and some things are unsolvable... but, most things that don't kill you, there is a way to improve those circumstances somehow.
You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline Ron Jeremy

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2017, 04:26:57 AM »
Never having been religious and brought up in a non religious family, I can't really know what it's like to give up god. But I was a smoker. I remember watching a movie where one of the characters was a heroin addict, and the police officer observes to the addict; "Jesus, you gotta take that shit just to feel the way I do now."
That line stuck in my head as I gave up smoking, I had to smoke to feel the same way a non smoker does. So I stopped, and as the pain got less and less I held onto that. Now I don't smoke and I feel the same way as if I still smoked!
Could that be the same as the religious?
If your god cannot physically appear before us, then it is imaginary.

It's as simple as that.

Offline kaziglu bey

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2017, 08:22:57 AM »
Of course, one of the reasons people get so easily get sucked into following religion is because they feel in great need of help/comfort. This can easily be because of overwhelming negative events in their lives over which they feel they have little to no control. It can also be when they feel they can't turn to family/friends for support or don't have family/friends to turn to for support to start with.

Regarding those here who used to strongly believe in/follow Christianity (or similar), but became disillusioned and left their religion/those  who never felt the need to follow any religion for such a reason to start with, I would be very interested to hear of any specific alternative approaches/methods you use to cope as best as you can with the life difficulties that come at you whenever they become overwhelming/tough to cope with.

:-)

I think that this is a very important question. I think that one of the nice things about enduring hardship of any kind is that you are not limited by faith in your options. You're not going to be relying on prayer, you know that you need to make shit happen in the real world. Knowing that you can't turn to magic as a solution makes things a lot clearer in many ways.

I will use this example for a lot of topics, but I think that it is very relevant and demonstrative. My son's mom died unexpectedly 3 1/2 years ago at the age of 31. This was less than a month before his 10th birthday. Now obviously, this was a horrible and heartbreaking time. It was very difficult. That night was the first time in years that my son had asked to sleep with me. When he woke up in the morning, it was as if he had aged 20 years. I never thought that it would be possible for a 9 year old to have that grim of a face. I hadn't managed to sleep more than a few minutes and wouldn't for days. My whole life had been turned upside down and thrown into immense pain and confusion.

Now i should point out that we had gone through a bitter divorce, I lost a pretty good job and was unemployed for a while, and she had been very abusive throughout our relationship. At that time I was trying to make a comeback, working a kinda crappy but steady job and most regrettably yet still gratefully living with my parents. I was paying child support to my son's mom. When she passed, I found myself with a lot more money owing to no child support, and my son became eligible for survivors benefits. So, having a sudden increase in funding, I was able to make arrangements for my son and I to move out on our own. His mom had lived in the next township over with her parents, and their district is rated 21 out of 500 in the state, so I decided to move to that township, even though rent here is absurd compared to elsewhere. Anyways, it was very nice to be out on our own, and although it came with a lot of heartbreak, I felt that taking advantage of opportunities to better our own life was one of the best ways to memorialize and remember Emily.

Also, we utilized a wonderful (secular) service called the Highmark Caring Place. It is a free service provided by Highmark that provides counseling and assistance to children who have lost family members. They also doing a remembrance service (with only vague, general religious tones and welcome to all), and make memory quilts, and do groups, and they always have a ton of food. They also provide us with a little memorial item that is based on a drawing made by one of the children, which shows a broken heart with a butterfly emerging out of it. I should note that this all involves the whole family, has separate groups for adult family members who are struggling along with the children, and is available at no cost for life. Having this support was incredible and really meant a lot. This was definitely an essential part of healing.

In addition, we sought separate individual counseling. We spent a lot of time with friends and family for support and good memories. A friend of ours introduced us to kayaking (I am now officially addicted and own 7 yaks and even go out in the ice). We continued to take advantage of opportunities as they came up, and I got a better job and we moved to a nicer apartment. Got a better job yet, and in spite of some health problems (struggled with gall bladder disease all year until surgery last week), are doing pretty well.

So for me, finding practical, real world ways to improve my situation, knowing who I can go to for support, and living to make a better life for my son and I is enough to get along without god or jesus or religion. I know that I won’t see Emily again, and that is constantly heartbreaking, but I can do my best to see that my son grows up to be a strong and moral man. He’s well along the way already as we always have supported him and encouraged him to be himself and have his own mind. As a result he is confident, smart, compassionate, loving, funny as hell, has a razor sharp wit, a larger vocabulary and better language skills than most adults (he did grow up around like 3 geniuses), is helpful, can cook, bake, clean, manages his money pretty well, is generous, talented, responsible…. Helping him become the best person he can is how I can most honor the memory of his mother and my live for her and their love for each other. No God or woo required.

In other times of hardship, I turn to supports. My in laws are a huge supports, and my parents, and my brother, and a few of my friends, and my aunt. I communicate where needed. I have had some issues with paying rent recently due to missing a TON of work due to illness, but have communicated with my landlord and made payment s where I can and keep my place up really well to show that I am a good tenant even if struggling. You’d be amazed at people’s willingness to really work with you. Most people would want to be cut a bit of a break here and there and pay it forward by doing the same. There is so much potential for human goodness that is negated by religion and racism and other forms of social division.
"A resurrected person who is also the son of a virgin could still be talking nonsense. There's no logic that says he must be right. " Christopher Hitchens

Offline velkyn

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2017, 09:35:38 AM »
hey Kaz,  I wondered if you were in western PA when you mentioned the Caring Place.  I grew up around Clarion.

I worked for Highmark for about 8 years and always thought the caring place was a great idea.   And I sympathize with you about gallbladder disease.  Had mine out during holiday break between my last two semesters of college.  I must have been the last person to have it done the old fashioned way with the big ol' incision on my side.  That gallstone pain has to be one of the worst ever.

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Offline kaziglu bey

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Re: Getting by without God
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2017, 10:27:20 AM »
hey Kaz,  I wondered if you were in western PA when you mentioned the Caring Place.  I grew up around Clarion.

I worked for Highmark for about 8 years and always thought the caring place was a great idea.   And I sympathize with you about gallbladder disease.  Had mine out during holiday break between my last two semesters of college.  I must have been the last person to have it done the old fashioned way with the big ol' incision on my side.  That gallstone pain has to be one of the worst ever.

Yes, I am in Fairview, which is just outside of Erie PA. I live like 5 minutes from Lake Erie, and 15 from Presque Isle State Park. It is great.

Oddly enough, I didn't appear to have gall stones. All of the tests were negative or inconclusive, but all of my symptoms matched gall bladder. They eventually took it out, and found that it had a lot of scarring and inflammation. It was not fun. Sick all of the time, near constant pain, not good stuff. I'm glad to have it out. I wont have the huge incision scar, but even a few of these little ones look like they might look a bit angry when they heal.
"A resurrected person who is also the son of a virgin could still be talking nonsense. There's no logic that says he must be right. " Christopher Hitchens