I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my faith beliefs and I’ve been wondering if some of these beliefs are really serving me. I’ve been in Unity for twenty years now and despite the fact that it doesn’t really have “doctrine” in the traditional sense of the word, I’m wondering if after all this time I haven’t been indoctrinated.
One of the principle teachings in Unity is, “We create our life experiences through our way of thinking.” Or, more simply, What we think about, we bring about. Perhaps not surprisingly, I generally agree with this statement. If our thoughts are inherently negative, then we are going to have a more negative experience of life, then if our thoughts are inherently positive. But growing up with this principle, I came to learn that this made each of us responsible for every negative thing in our life. And so, I grew up believing that my mental illness was my fault or more importantly, that I was essentially responsible for my continuing experience of mental illness.
I absolutely believe that the brain is incredibly powerful, that it can do amazing things – calm us down, lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, and a whole host of other things that are otherwise unexplainable. I believe that people can and have affected the course of illness in their bodies. I do, ultimately, believe that I can affect the course of mental illness in my body. However.
I have wondered for years whether it is truly appropriate for me to feel guilty about or responsible for my mental illness. In fact, the distress that this guilt and responsibility has caused me over the last ten years has no doubt deepened my depression. So I have to ask myself if continuing to believe that I have brought about my own illness from the time I was a very young child really serves my best interests. And I am led to conclude that it in fact, does not.
And so, then, what am I left with? Rather than clarifying my beliefs, this only serves to make them even more blurry. How can I believe that we can use our brains to affect the health of our body, but not believe that I am responsible for my mental illness? I don’t think I can answer that question. I do believe that my mental illness is inherently biological, though I know not everyone’s is. I also believe that how I deal with my mental illness is my responsibility and absolutely has an effect on the course of my mental illness. But I don’t believe that I can simply choose to banish mental illness from my life. And the idea that I could, if my faith or conviction was strong enough, is only serving to make me feel worse.
So, for now, at least I’ve cleared that up.