“I believe a big part of who we are comes from that intersection between our deepest roots of the background of our childhood.”
The podcast is nearing it’s 1 year anniversary. I am equal parts excited and exhausted! This podcast has, I feel, made me into a better therapist and has given me an opportunity to meet individuals, artists, musicians and theologians that I never would have met otherwise. And, I received my first email question about the podcast (so exciting). Therefore, I’ve decided to write a blog post and record a podcast on the topic because if one person has this question, many others have it as well.
A question I’ve been asked recently is, “Why do you ask all your guests about their spiritual background?”
When we tell our story, it helps to talk about our childhood and to give a framework of one’s identity to the listener. And I believe a big part of who we are comes from that intersection between our deepest roots of the background of our childhood. But whenever we find a root and follow it back, we will think we’ve reached its end and then it will branch off again, especially, if we’ve tried to block out parts of our earliest memories. What happens when we try to block or numb the pain? I believe that is a major reason we turn to addiction.
A few reasons why I ask almost every guest about his/her spiritual background on an Atheist’s podcast is, to help us remember we got sober by being vulnerable. We got into a street fight with vulnerability and vulnerability won! Thank God 🙂 And when vulnerability won, we swore we would never go back. We would never go back to numbing the pain. And as we know, when we numb the pain, we also numb the joy.
Research states in order to move through shame, we have to get vulnerable. To be vulnerable, means to be seen even when we are at our messiest, most imperfect versions of ourselves. If you don’t have someone who can love you through this (and it’s difficult) you definitely have a spiritual healer or higher power who has your back. This is one of the ways I help people struggling with addiction-this allowing yourself to access your vulnerability/higher power does work!
Another reason I ask about spirituality/higher power is connection. As I’ve stated on my podcast tagline: everyone believes in something. In the research I’ve gathered from the podcast and my private practice, one main theme persists. You can be a second hand smoke kind of religious person growing up but when something difficult or catastrophic happens, you hit your knees and pray like you’ve never prayed before! It also turns out that connection, I believe, is why AA is so popular. I do not believe that their 1939 literature is so compelling that that is the reason people keep coming back. No. It is the connections you forge with other members in the group. It’s the people that greet you at the door with a warm smile and listen to you when you speak. Truly listen. We connect by seeing the same struggles, the same pain and shame-the humanness in others.
A third reason is, I feel you can learn a lot about a person with this one question and it leads to more searching questions and dialogue around these two questions that I’m obsessed with like: where do we come from and where are we going.
A sidebar: the belief systems people come up with are quite interesting-I’ve had Robert Cox come on and talk about Christo-Buddhist or Dr. Elizabeth Bonet come on and say she has a woo woo Indian princess in her corner. I love listening to the descriptions of one’s inner self.
Let’s connect by showing each other that no matter what our belief system-most of us want the same things:to live a life with authenticity, to live a life with courage, to live a life with an abundance of gratitude, laughter, humility, kindness, and love. And to bear witness to both this suffering and love, it is the greatest gift we can give.
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