The 40/52 weeks-a-year, spiritual-religious newsletter
From Rabbi Brian
Spiritual-Religious Self Violence
NOTE: This article is similar in theme to a previous article called $2 Angry.I would like to elaborate on one of the phrases I use often in talking with people: spiritual-religious self-violence.
What does this term mean? Here’s my official definition and a little further explanation:
Spiritual-religious self-violence is the act of berating ourselves for feeling whatever we are feeling. Spiritual-religious self-violence is when we censor our true feelings. It happens when we, seemingly with good intentions, manipulate ourselves into feeling something other than what we are/were just feeling. In refusing to honor our true emotional states, and in trying to be something we’re not, we commit spiritual-religious self-violence.
His “day job” is instructing high school math. (They learn more than math.)
The rest of the time is with his family.
Let me explain with an example:
After Kathy’s father died, he left the family farm to his sister with the understanding that the property would stay in the family. However, Kathy’s aunt made arrangements to sell the farm to a third party developer. Kathy was crushed. She told her aunt, “I’ll pay you more than what the developer wants.” But no dice. The aunt sold the property.
“Look,” Kathy said to me when we talked, “I need spiritual-religious help, because I’m really, really angry. I know that if I was spiritually enlightened, I wouldn’t be angry. I shouldn’t be angry. The Dalai Lama wouldn’t be angry.” I told her, “Kathy, you’re angry. You can’t not be angry. You might want to get out of it, you might not like this emotion, but it’s how it is; it’s how you are in this moment. You have the choice to deny it, but it will still be there. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig — you can dress something up, but in the end, it’s still whatever it is. You have to deal with your anger.”
Most folks I know are not comfortable with their anger and don’t like being angry. (I know a few folk who seem a bit too comfortable with being angry. I tend not to like those people.)
On a similar note, few people want to deal with their sadness. They’d rather bury it, cover it up, drown it in foods, television shows, or other quick-fix distractions. Many people — perhaps you are one of them — will do almost anything to avoid sadness, anger, or other ‘unpleasant’ emotions.
But, it’s impossible to live a life without anger or sadness. It’s unreasonable to expect yourself to completely avoid either one. These are natural human emotions that will always come and go, whether we like it or not — except if we are depressed and feel nothing.
We may find ourselves thinking or wishing we oughtn’t feel angry when we’re angry or we oughtn’t feel sad when we’re sad. This is just plain wrong.
In attempting to not deal with emotions we don’t like, it may be tempting for us to inflict a little spiritual-religious self-violence on ourselves. Don’t do it.
Perhaps you may be comforted by the wisdom of a few celebrities: There’s a Cat Stevens song, If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out that encourages us to simply honor what we are experiencing. If we feel something, it’s probably OK for us to feel that way. And one of my wife Jane’s favorite routines from Laugh In, was Jo Anne Worley singing, When you are down and out, sometimes, you need to shout… ‘I’m down and out!’
You help nobody by pretending not to be you where you are. It’s when we pretend to be something we’re not, that we become sick.
Spiritual-religious advice: Be spiritually and religiously “clean.” When life hands you lemons, have lemons. Don’t turn that frown upside down! Be who you are, where you are.
Schedule a monthly recurring donation to ROTB and receive a FREE DOWNLOAD “How To Deal With Impossible People.”
$77 a month
$6.42 a month
($77 a year)
$3.34 a month
($1 an issue)
Or, make a one-time donation …
I thank you. -Rb
ROTB’s newsletter, website, and podcasts cost thousands of dollars to publish and maintain. Please consider making a US tax-deductible contribution to help defray the costs.Details about donations to ROTB.
100% spiritual growth + money back guarantee. Dismiss