I recently got a question via email from someone who was starting to question her religion, related to my story about How (and Why) I Went From Christian to Atheist, and wanted to know how to overcome her fear of going to hell. [caption id="attachment_2896" align="alignright" width="300"] Are you afraid of going to hell?[/caption] One of the most frightening aspects for me in deciding to abandon my childhood religion was the potential eternal consequences. After a lengthy examination of what I really believed and what I actually thought was true in the Bible, I concluded that the resurrection accounts weren't as compelling as they had been portrayed to me in church. Most likely Jesus didn't rise from the dead. A lot of Christian teaching is predicated on the idea that this miracle is proof that Jesus was the son of God, so that belief promptly went out the window. Modern science has reasonable explanations for the origin of the universe and the emergence of life without the need for a creator God. Although there are holes in our scientific knowledge I could see that being more comfortable with not knowing all the answers to life, the universe and everything could actually be more liberating than religiously answering “God did it” to every question I couldn't answer. While there are many modern-day Christians who believe that Darwinian evolution isn't incompatible with Christian teaching, for me the sheer barbarism of the natural selection process rules out an omnipotent compassionate God from coming up with it. (more…)
Symbols are very important in a lot of cultures and many religions are filled with icons and symbols that signify things that we want to remind ourselves of. It's useful to have symbols so that we can remember certain properties or traits that we may forget during our daily lives. So what I’m suggesting here is getting a masculine warrior symbol, something that you can hang around your neck like this, and I’ll show you mine. If you have a bit of a look, this is what mine looks like. It’s basically any kind of symbol or medallion that you can grab and hang around your neck that looks kind of cool to you, that you like and that has a masculine edge to it. http://youtu.be/YDp29BPjZ3k (more…)
I've been thinking lately about how much my self-confidence was undermined by what I was taught as a child in the church where I grew up. Even long after I had abandoned the belief system on a conscious level as an adult, I still felt the emotional effects of having my sense of self eroded and my self-belief undermined. There are some positive aspects of Christian teaching, but these didn't sink in for me as deeply as the negatives. Even if you still believe in the basis of Christianity, I suggest you start questioning some of these Christian teachings which can undermine your self-confidence:
Blessed Are The Meek
Yeah right. Try telling that to Genghis Khan. Now I'm not suggesting that you should go and invade half of China, but if ever there was a teaching designed to simply appease the masses, this is it. It would be more accurate to say “Blessed is the man who believes in himself and valiantly goes after what he wants in life without attachment to getting it”.
You Were Born Into Sin
The basic notion that we are born into original sin is flawed. The truth is that you were born exactly as nature intended.… Continue reading…
I grew up in a conservative Christian church-going family. During years of Sunday school, church services and various fellowship groups, I was fed a diet of deception which helped undermine my fragile self-esteem. My sensitivity and having emotionally disconnected parents who were in constant conflict didn't help, and it's difficult to judge exactly how much of the damage was due to religious indoctrination, and how much was simply due to the environment I grew up in. My parents could return from a church service where the minister preached on the theme of “Love”, and have a blazingly abusive argument. Throw in this level of hypocrisy, and you get a boy who grows up into one seriously confused adult.
Childhood religious teaching has a pervasive effect. For many years into adulthood I continued attending church before I wised up, and even became involved in the church leadership. At the time I believed I was doing the right thing; but looking back I can see how appallingly narrow-minded and naïve I was.
Realising that I had been misled was painful, and didn't suddenly undo overnight the damage that had been done to my psyche over many years.… Continue reading…
Growing up with a controlling and/or domineering mother can suppress your masculinity and leave you stuck feeling and acting like a boy in a man's body. My mother was the dominant figure in my family of origin, and with a passive-aggressive father and two relatively dominant older sisters, it was a disastrous recipe for my developing masculinity.
A controlling mother creates a relationship dynamic that will undermine your confidence in yourself as a man unless you take steps to counter its effects. So here are some steps to take to help you recover from growing up with a controlling, dominant mother:
Recognize that Your Mother is Controlling
The first step to dealing with a problem is to recognize that it exists. It took me a long time to even see that my mother was controlling. It wasn't until I did The Landmark Forum in my mid-30s and they started talking about how controlling most of us are that I had this insight.
When I was a child, my mother used a physical leash to control me; partly for my own safety, and partly for her convenience. As I got older, verbal stoushes with my father made it very clear that the masculine point of view wasn't welcome in our household.… Continue reading…
When a fellow recovering-computer-engineer friend of mine SMS'd me saying: “I've worked out what the problem is... it's shame.”, I knew immediately what he referring to. The perpetual self-consciousness and lack of confidence that kept plaguing me, the low self-esteem, the anxiety and awkwardness around other people, the fear of embarrassment, the worry about what other people thought when I asserted myself, the vague feeling of inadequacy and the sense that I somehow wasn't good enough all came down to one underlying emotion: Shame.
I knew instantly that my friend was right, yet it took me over a year to get around to John Bradshaw's best-selling book on the topic. That's the insidious thing about shame: we avoid it like the plague, even though it's at the root of many of our emotional, psychological and behavioural problems. We hear an increasing amount these days about stress and depression, but very few people are talking directly about the underlying problem of shame that man men face in their. As Bradshaw points out in his book, we're even ashamed of our shame.
Shame is a sense that we are bad or wrong; that we are defective in some way. It causes us to live in constant fear of being exposed; of being revealed to other people, who might just happen to see through the façade we present to the world and discover what we're really like.… Continue reading…
I've been there myself, and I know how debilitating depression can be. It sucks the life out of you. There's a zoned-out feeling in your head, a blank look on your face, and an all-pervading sense of hopeless like you've never felt before. The light has gone out of your eyes. It's a different feeling to sadness, which tends to pass when you've cried it out. Depression hangs around like a dense fog, clouding your judgement and colouring everything a nasty shade of grey.
Psychiatrists will tell you that depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. They're right, but this doesn't say much; your brain is a complex biochemical system and pretty much any problem in there comes down to a “chemical imbalance” of some sort. The questions to ask are: what caused it, and what to do about it.
There's no instant fix for depression, and everyone gets down sometimes. It's part of being human. But small steps in the right direction add up. The following tips have worked for me, and will gradually get yourself feeling more hopeful and optimistic as the fog of depression clears and you get back to enjoying life again: