This is a continuing series of posts breaking down the six most important categories of core beliefs you develop in life. I believe these areas are instrumental in terms of the self-esteem you develop and how happy and successful you ultimately become. So far we have looked at the areas of:
Last post was part one about God/Religion, exploring religious memes that could cause you to self-sabotage your success. This post we’ll finish that list and look at how you can counter-program against negative memes. And some ways to create positive, empowering beliefs moving forward.
Now we venture into the “you’re born a sorry sinner, you’re not worthy” and “you only get the good stuff after you die” memes that religion regularly dishes out.
As I mentioned here, concepts like original sin from Christianity, the 8-fold path in Buddhism, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish Covenant, and the Muslim Code of Law – are all built on the belief that you are inherently flawed and/or needing some type of salvation to be worthy.
Nuns in Sunday schools are teaching five-year-old children that they are born a sorry sinner. In other faiths, youngsters are taught that they may need to live for 150 lifetimes until they reach enlightenment. How are they expected to feel worthy if they are only on lifetime number 97? What about the kids who are taught that they were reincarnated in this lifetime, to pay penance for bad deeds they did in the last one? How do you think that affects their self-esteem?
In the past posts we explored some of the beliefs organized religion spreads on sex and sexuality. Think of the worthiness issues they cause in this area. Many LGBTQ people aren’t even aware that they are homophobic or transphobic. They suffer from unresolved guilt and worthiness issues that lead to subconscious self-hate. And that can lead them to self-destruct with unsafe sex, addictions like crystal meth, or even suicide.
Up to now, we’ve been discussing the internal issues religions create about worthiness. But we should also explore the external issues that can manifest. Sometimes, outside factors can subconsciously influence you to believe that you are somehow lesser because of your faith.
Right now in China, more than a million Muslims have been arbitrarily detained in reeducation camps in the Xinjiang Province. Most of them are Uighur, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group. Think of how being persecuted like this could cause self-doubt and affect your self-esteem.
Then of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Jews and what they have faced as a people. Certainly on the conscious level, they are taught to have belief in their faith. Start with the belief that they are the chosen people, how Jewish values like the Ten Commandments and the Torah stand at the foundation of American values, and pride about the accomplishments of so many of the Tribe. (Jews have about 30% of all scientific Nobel prizes while less than one percent of the population, etc.)
But what about on the subconscious level?
Americans speak of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but many have mixed feelings, fears, and sometimes hate of Jews. (It’s why there are Judeophobia courses in Hebrew universities.) Christians have received very conflicting messages. First that they are supposed to honor Jews (Genesis 12:3), while at the same time Jews are referred to as the spawn of Satan (John 8:44). And since a major precept of Christianity is that you can only get a ticket to heaven by accepting Jesus as your savior that would not include Jews, as they are commanded to love only god.
To any indignant Christians reading this who are thinking, “How can he suggest I fear or look down on Jews? My whole religion is based upon worshiping a Jew. That would be crazy.” Yeah, well, that’s kinda’ my point.
Here in the West, you never see lists circulating of Hindus in the media, Sikhs in banking, or Mormons who control Hollywood. But those kinds of lists of Jews are compiled all the time. It’s a pretty safe bet many Jews are reading this blog post, nodding their heads in agreement, but would never entertain the idea to hit a share button on the page. Why? Because they’ve been conditioned by their parents and grandparents to keep their head down and avoid the topic of religion in public, to avoid becoming a target. Even people who are atheist or agnostic, but culturally Jewish have to be concerned about attack. (If you live in New York right now, you probably have to think twice before you leave the house wearing a yarmulke.)
And we haven’t even touched on the serious stuff…
If your homeland is surrounded by other countries dedicated to its destruction, if six million of your people died in an attempted extermination of your race, you can be forgiven (no pun intended) for developing some issues around worthiness.
I don’t point this out to edify Uighurs or Jews over other religions. In my mind they’re no different than the Hindus, Moonies, Catholics, Scientologists, and other religious cults in most respects. But can you see how the attacks and persecution of these faiths might cause them to develop subconscious worthiness issues?
Organized religion frequently pairs the “not worthy” programming with the very destructive meme asserting that you are meant to suffer here, to earn or qualify for your rewards in the afterlife. There are literally billions of people who believe that because they’re broke, being exploited, or otherwise suffering – this makes them godlier, and thus a better candidate for heaven or salvation. Think about just how limiting a belief like that in your subconscious mind can be.
Whether you believe you’re flawed and needing redemption, or you’re convinced you’re not supposed to be prosperous and happy in this lifetime, or both – this frequently leads to a life of lack and limitation.
The state of your self-esteem as you enter adulthood cannot be emphasized enough. If you have a negative, low self-esteem, this will impact everything you do for the rest of your life. This time is a “tipping point” for many people, a time when they are making monumental decisions such as college, getting married, and beginning a career. It starts with lowered expectations, unexceptional goals, and a neutral or even negative vision for your life. From there it progresses to self-sabotage behavior in your health, relationships, and career.
This brings us to the hate and violence certain religions practice against other ones...
The Bible includes some wonderful parables that are great lessons on living a prosperous life. It also promotes stoning people for heresy. (Not to mention for homosexuality, sorcery, and working on the Sabbath.)
And please don’t try the argument that these things are only in the Old Testament and they were somehow countermanded in the New Testament. They were not. I’ve read the whole book and there are numerous places in the New Testament where Jesus and his apostles endorsed Old Testament law. The Bible certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on killing the non-believers. Some Islamic countries still have penalties for apostasy and non-believers ranging from imprisonment to death.
This begs the question of whether any religion that proposes locking up or killing non-believers and people from other faiths would lead anyone to a life of peace and prosperity. And what kind of subconscious programming is that creating.
Finally, we should examine the meme that religion is needed to guide us to what is moral and right.
Frequently when discussing this subject religious people say to me something along the lines of, “I follow the Bible (or other Holy book) to guide me what is right and wrong. If I would be tempted to rape or kill another, the scriptures direct me to a right course of action.”
Joining a religious group seems easy, because you aren’t required to do all that messy, demanding, and time-consuming work on ethics, values, and principles. Because every gang, cult, and religion come with a “starter kit” of acceptable beliefs, philosophy, and behavior.
But do you really need a holy book to tell you that things like rape and murder are wrong? Couldn’t you spend two minutes in thought and come up with the same conclusion? I believe this is really a case of people not willing to take responsibility for their own actions and morality and trying to outsource to another entity. Imagine if they were to wean themselves off their addiction and take responsibility for living a moral, just, and prosperous life.
Which leads us to the most important part of this discussion…
How do you rid yourself of all these detrimental beliefs about god and religion, and reprogram yourself with healthy self-esteem, an empowering vision, and engineer a prosperous life?
Not to belabor the point, but the most helpful strategy here is a return to rational, logical thinking. Imagine you’re a venture capitalist reviewing a proposal for an investment. If someone brought you a PowerPoint deck with a business plan based on the premise of your religion, would you write them a check or usher them out of the conference room as quickly as possible?
Understand that most organized religions are cults. They usually aren’t labeled or treated as cults, because so many people in the media and government are members of the cults. Recognize cult recruiting and retention techniques for what they are. You’re very susceptible if you’re emotionally vulnerable, stressed, or living in poor socioeconomic conditions. (Also if you’re young and still developing your identity.) Cults aren’t looking to recruit crazy people. They need sane, stable people who are going through an experience of difficulty, because they can still donate money and become recruiters of others.
Technique include “love bombing” (pioneered by the Moonies) which is feigning interest in you as a person, and then slathering you with attention, compliments, and validation. Control and dependency are big staples as well. This is accomplished by keeping the recruit off balance, moving from love to fear and back. They terrify you with fear of adverse consequences and cause you to run back into the arms of the very ideology that is terrorizing you. (Christianity and Islam excel at this.) The other powerful technique is isolation. The goal is to keep you away from any friends or family that might provide you with critical thinking and a reality check. (A frequent Scientology practice.)
If you do believe in a supernatural entity, you can still do so without becoming irrational, delusional, and or manipulated like a puppet...
Make your choices based on values. Any belief system that teaches that you are not worthy, are born a sorry sinner, or need redemption from a higher authority is anti-prosperity and thus malicious. Any organization that attempts to suppress your free thinking or mandate what you do think is dangerous. Any philosophy that teaches you should injure, enslave, or kill others because of their gender, race, religion, or non-religion is evil.
Instead of buying into limiting beliefs like original sin, why not empower yourself with a belief in original blessing?
Consider adopting a belief that your god created us in his/her/their image so we can practice self-determination and evolve into the highest possible versions of who we could become. And because this is a benevolent god, he/she/it wouldn’t want us to be mindless drones following doctrines and dogma, but free-thinking entities with the ability to learn and grow – and create our own destiny.
Keep reminding yourself that it is not holy to be broke and not spiritual to be victimized. Being a victim is being a victim. You can’t manifest prosperity – or true spirituality – until and unless you are willing to release being a victim.
Here are some questions to do some critical thinking about:
All these religious beliefs have had an effect on your mental health. But what about the role of your beliefs about physical health and wellness? That’s what we will examine in the next post. Until then, please share your thoughts below.