The Spirit Of Therapy Blog
In the United States today, the majority of people polled identify themselves with a specific religious institution. Christianity, Buddhism and Islam are among the top three named. It’s relatively easy for most people to pinpoint values that these religious doctrines encompass: charity, forgiveness, love, compassion, etc. One might assume that people belonging to these religious communities would serve these values. Yet it’s just as probable that all of us, religious or not, are serving values we don’t even recognize.
Richard Naegle, a Jungian oriented psychologist, espouses that all of us serve something or someone. We bow down to ideas of who we are or what we want to be. We bow down to emotions, traumas, and ideals. We even bow down to the standards society has set for us. These “gods” are subtle. We probably don’t recognize how they influence us on a daily basis. We can be sure, however, that our reverence to them is affecting our own reality. As Naegle says, whatever we serve becomes our master.
This can be a hallowing revelation. It is discouraging to think our own blindness may have kept us in dark and unhappy places. Yet, it can also be a wake up call and an opportunity to realize just how powerful our willingness to live with our eyes wide open can be.
A Zen saying says: “The hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither one.” This proverb is paralleled in other religious texts. The Bible reads, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” The Koran includes, “Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his (one) body.” Obviously mankind has recognized this polarization for some time as well as the pull to serve what will undoubtedly lead us astray.
In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), the client is given the opportunity to clarify values and reflect on how decisions and behaviors she has engaged in have lined up with those values. She begins to discover what has kept her from living congruently with her beliefs and values and how she may have to change to accommodate them.
1. This week, examine your intrinsic values. What kind of person do you want to be in this world? How do you want to be in relationships?
2. Ask yourself what your most recent thoughts, behaviors and reactions reveal that you are serving? Do you make decisions based on your values, or are they made in fear, influenced by pride or guilt? Are you listening to yourself or just trying to placate the values of others?
3. What would have to change for you to live more in line with your values? What transformation would need to happen in your mind and heart in order to be who you want to be in this world? How can you begin to take control of making that happen?
The Spirit of Therapy
Where psychotherapy interacts with our mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and relational wellbeing.