“When I came up with my list of new, believable thoughts I was filled with feelings of love, worthiness, and self-acceptance. What a powerful experience! This takes practice… By focusing so much on mind management am I taking God out of this process? Not at all. But let’s not take our brains out of the process because God gave us these brains. So let’s learn to use them.”
Sometimes I hate church.
I feel terrible about it because I’m “not supposed to” hate church. So I start out feeling frustrated. And then I feel shame because I tell myself I shouldn’t feel frustrated about church.
Other feelings I experience are unworthy, lonely, disconnected, inadequate, self-loathing, judgmental, hopeless, frustrated, down-trodden, screwed, helpless. These feelings suck!
Sometimes this makes me not want to go to church. But if I stay home from church I make myself feel bad for not going. So whether I go to church or stay home, I feel awful. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
And there’s part of me that believes I am actually damned for not wanting to go to church.
So what can I do if I feel this way?
I can blame church. And I could stay home. I could stop going altogether. I could completely distance myself from it and give up my membership. And I could bash it for “the way it made me feel.”
But even if I did all of this, I would still be left with the same feelings of unworthy, lonely, disconnected, helpless, etc.. Why? Because church does not create my feelings. And my actions do not create my feelings.
My thoughts create my feelings. And my feelings drive my actions.
I realized that, just like with everything else, I go to church because of how I think it will make me feel. The feelings I’m pursuing are love, acceptance, empowerment, connection, valued, worthiness.
We’re taught in church (and society) that if we want to feel better we need to change our actions, our behavior. If I’m not feeling peace, joy, or love, then I must need to read my scriptures more, pray more, go to the temple more. There’s an old adage at church that says something like “If you don’t feel like praying then get down on your knees and pray until you do feel like praying.” This doesn’t work. And if you think it works, it is not the praying that makes you want to pray. It is a change in your thoughts.
How do I take responsibility for my own mind?
I can take responsibility for my own mind and the thoughts/emotions inside of it. Good news, we choose our thoughts and we can choose new ones.
First, I asked myself what thoughts I was having that were creating those terrible feelings about church. This is uncomfortable to go toward the crappy feelings, but necessary if you want change.
Second, I gave my thoughts full credit for creating those feelings. Church gets no credit here.
Next, I asked myself what thoughts I can choose to think to create those feelings I am pursuing at church. This is a mind-blowing, powerful process.
When I came up with my list of new, believable thoughts I was filled with feelings of love, worthiness, and self-acceptance. What a powerful experience! This takes practice.
But, C’mon, Really?!
I can see someone saying, “But if you only need thoughts to create feelings and feelings are the reason we do things then why do I need to go to church at all?” But that’s a question only you can answer. And how cool would it be to ask yourself this question from a place of love and worthiness rather than a place of shame and fear! I believe God would want us to feel love and worthiness in our decisions about church.
By focusing so much on mind management am I taking God out of this process? Not at all. But let’s not take our brains out of the process because God gave us these brains. So let’s learn to use them.
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