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Recovering from Religion - Phoenix Message Board › TAKING RESPONSIBILITY


user 2326427
Phoenix, AZ
Post #: 191
PART 1 of Richard Yao's recovery program "A TOAST to Life"

Some of us were taught not to take credit for our actions. Either God was to get the glory for our successes, or Satan was to blame for our failures. Sometimes we took the extreme position that if something bad happened to us, it was our lack of faith, otherwise God would not have allowed it to happen to us.

We were told to give God control of our lives and in our fundamentalist churches we took this to extremes. We turned instead our lives over to a doctrine, or we followed a set of legalisms that answered all of our questions. However it may have happened, one thing is clear: we allowed fundamentalism to remove the need, and sometimes the ability, to think for ourselves. We allowed a church to dictate how we dressed and what we did and didn't do with our time. They controlled what we read, what we watched on TV, and what we saw (or didn't see) at the movies.

To leave the fundamentalist mindset (set mind) means, above all, to take responsibility for ourselves. Taking responsibility means not depending on absolutes. It means not attributing the ups and downs of our lives to some power greater than ourselves. No longer do we have an "approved" way of thinking and acting. We have to rediscover and reclaim our independence and individuality. Taking responsibility means that we have to make our own choices and accept credit where it is due and blame where it is due.

It can be very difficult at first. In the beginning, we may experience passivity and inertia. Dizzied by our new-found independence, we may distrust ourselves and our judgment. We may even long for the strict regimentation that we are trying to put behind us. Perhaps we may even go so far as setting up a lifestyle of our own invention that is as strictly regimented as the one we left. In other words, we may become taskmasters and ministers, unreasonably demanding and severe, to ourselves.

A practical way we can take responsibility is to find new friends and engage in new activities. These new activities may not initially provide the same emotional satisfaction that we got in our fundamentalist churches. But we should not expect any activity, something outside of ourselves, to fill the void that has opened since leaving the church. However, if we nurture our new activities we can turn them into something that enriches our lives without controlling us.

Taking responsibility for ourselves means learning to accept ourselves. We have strong points and weak points. There are things we can do well, and things we do poorly. It also means that we can accept the fact that good things will happen to us and bad things will happen to us, and we don't have to attribute them all to God, the Devil, or - most importantly - our own worthiness or unworthiness.

Taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions is the first step toward building the self-esteem that we need. It is the most liberating thing we can do.

- Richard Yao
A former member
Post #: 5
Very helpful info. Thanks for posting!
A former member
Post #: 3
This is a key point, in my experience, and further illustrates one issue joined in the concept of lesser incidence of integrity found in some churchgoers/religious people/religious leaders. Saturday we heard a terribly moving story of one of our members escape from a religiously driven "family" for the purpose of self-preservation. Blaming victims while validating perpetrators, systematically, seems less likely to happen outside of such a degrading and prejudiced environment where biased excuses are encouraged. It still happens, yes, but is not considered as socially acceptable where the concept of personal responsibility is a value held by the community. Although there is still a significant double standard in modern society, certainly there is evidence of slow change.
user 2326427
Phoenix, AZ
Post #: 235
Linda, you wrote "there is still a significant double standard in modern society" and although I could try to "read between the lines" I don't want to misunderstand you. Could you please clarify what you meant?
A former member
Post #: 4
Sounds like you want me to spell it out here on this discussion board. If a man is beating his wife, rational people would agree that is a bad thing and the wife is the victim. Within some conservative religious groups, and other groups I won't discuss, it can only be the fault of the wife, as she "deserved it" and "made him" do it. The wife-beater is not only spared but offered support against his "disobeying" wife.
My apologies to the person who's story I have just revealed although anonymously.
What should happen is for the angry abuser to accept personal responsibility for his own actions instead of blaming it on their victim, the teachings of "God" or a self-defined role, and for the others to appropriately recognize the same, offering support to the correct party.
It is possible that there could be some validity to this concern?
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