What’s the Difference between Religion and Spirituality?

The concept and practice of spirituality is becoming more popular and acceptable these days. Many people, however, struggle with defining the difference between spirituality and religion. I will offer some fundamental differences between traditional religion, progressive religion and spirituality.

I also provide research on the trends of religion and spirituality. Additionally my own thoughts are included, as to the importance of traditional religions being more open to progressive spiritual concepts for their own sustainability.

What is Religion?
The word religion in Latin means: “to bind oneself, to commit oneself.” Religion involves offering duty, a commitment to God and its particular teacher/prophet, such as: Jesus Christ or Mohammad.

Religion is about morals and what’s deemed right or wrong by the religious leaders. The spiritual or religions teacher’s messages are interpreted by church leaders and created doctrines, for man’s understanding and use. These doctrines offer a moral compass, and dictate how people should conduct themselves in order to win favor of God and the religion in general. 

Traditional religion I believe, often stresses the importance of sacrificing oneself as a way to honor and live for one’s God. Religion offers rituals of worship and praise to their God. It is public and group centered in its orientation; designed to be a source of comfort and advice, through a supportive community.

Conventional religious organizations, offer a way and place to worship and praise their God. Providing a structure for connection and friendship. Likewise, offering inspiring and comforting messages, rituals and music.

The churches or temples are beautiful and offer a sense of awe and peace. Religion serves many people well, and reinforces the “group think” and connection need.

Systems, such as: governments, education, corporate and financial systems, have rules and ways the masses are to adhere to, in order for the system to function. These systems require the group to conform, so it doesn’t want you to be different or step out of the norm.

Beginning in childhood, we are condition to conform to family and group/system rules and order. On one level, this serves a purpose and is a means of maintaining order within the system. However, it can create subtle, yet powerful ways to control people.

I view traditional religion, as a system, having its own rules and group norms. Generally, religion, like most systems is about conformity to its group rules. It’s not really interested in you becoming self-actualized or liberated‒free. It often struggles with independent thinkers and people being “out of the box.”

In my opinion, the philosophy of many religious organizations advocates the belief: God, is out there somewhere. So you need a third party to intervene with your communion and communication with God.

Traditional religion is a structured institution, governed by hierarchy, which is mostly male dominated and oriented. Today some religious hierarchies remain blinded to the fact, that women are becoming more empowered and have equal merit in their wisdom and capabilities to be religious leaders.

Progressive religious organizations are ones that are breaking the old paradigm, and including women in leadership roles and worship services. They are in general more including, rather than excluding, and embrace the concept of unity, rather an separation.

What is Spirituality?
The origin of “spiritual” is the Latin word spiritus meaning breath. Breathing, is an essential element of human life. Therefore, spirituality like breathing, is part of the essence of living. Other words with this common root include inspire, aspire and to conspire which means to breathe together.

Spirituality is more personal and individual in its philosophy and formats. It takes a more holistic‒body, mind and spirit approach. With an emphasis on one’s well being within their connection to a higher power. It views the divine, is as much inside of each of us as outside of us.

It embraces and encourages three parts or aspects of life, for exploration and discovery:
1. Divine wisdom from a higher power and your own
higher self.
2. One’s connection and relationship to nature and the
universe.
3. The discovery of the true self.

I believe, spiritual seekers have interest in moving beyond their ego; with a desire to live more from their heart-center. Spirituality encourages exploration of the soul and seeks to ask, and more importantly explore life transforming questions, such as:
Who am I?    
What’s my purpose for being here?
What’s the meaning of life?

Spirituality allows you to have control of your own individual journey‒your purpose, beliefs and method. Like the spiritual masters and teachers of many traditions. A spiritually mature and confident person has released the “group think” ideas and mind-set.

They are independent thinkers and doers; sailing on their own spiritual destiny. They are comfortable and adaptable with both personal and group interactions. They have learned the art of non-attachment, so they are accepting and tolerant to the path of others. Additionally, they have no need to convince others of their own spiritual path.

Distinctions between Religion and Spirituality
In my view, a major distinction between conventional religion and spirituality is: Spirituality advocates inclusion, love and unity of all parts of us, our fellow humans, and the earth.

It views the natural world as sacred, and has a child-like curiosity of the universe, and our connection to all that makes up the universe. Spirituality sees the divine/God in all that is. In addition, there is equal honoring and value of both female and male in leadership and teaching roles

Many traditional religions are about fear and shame/guilt, promoting a fear of God/Allah. Advocating separation and exclusion, an “us vs. them” mind-set. If you aren’t of my faith and belief, you are not welcomed and I should refrain from interaction with you.

I’ve come to realize a simple distinction between religion and spirituality is: Religion tells you who you need to be. Where as, spirituality invites you to discover who you are and can be.

There are roughly 4, 200 religions today
Most people believe in only one of these and discount the other 4,199. There are over 7 billion people on the planet today and each one of us likely has a different perception and interpretation of what spiritually and religion means.

I believe the key is the realization that humans and all of life, for that matter are inherently spiritual. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Spiritually affirms there can be many paths to the divine and inner peace. It encourages the exploration of the metaphysical.

“Metaphysics” is the study or exploration of those things and phenomena which are “beyond-the-physical” realm. It’s our connection to all things seen and  unseen.

Spirituality does not necessarily need a building to connect with God and inner peace. Many spiritual people find connection with their higher power and to life in more natural and informal surroundings.

To promote one’s spiritual experience, ways of self-expression and connection with divine energy. Spirituality encourages, meditation, being in nature, participation in a yoga or other self-enhancement classes, and spiritual retreats, etc.. Even preparing and eating a meal can be a spiritual experience with mindful intention, thoughts and practice.

I myself enjoy and encourage my clients (if they choose) in exploring the teachings and wisdom of different spiritual masters and world religions. This makes for a more inclusive understanding and acceptance of others. Which is part of the ingredients of love and world fellowship.

Enlightened Beings
Teachers and prophets: Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad and Krishna were not of a particular religion. Jesus wasn’t Christian and Buddha wasn’t Buddhist. They were spiritually enlightened beings and teachers, who taught inclusion, unconditional love, acceptance, and higher divine truth and ways of being. Particular religions adopted each of these teacher’s as their own. As in Jesus Christ associated with Christianity and Mohammad with Islam, etc.

Jesus for example, was an independent thinker and doer. He was for everyone. He interacted with women, children, the poor and sick. He promoted power-with, not power over. He challenged Jewish law, and broke the Sabbath; he was a rebel/”out of the box.” Church/group leaders were threatened by him, and used their man-made laws to condemn him.

Jesus’ purpose was to offer humanity, a higher dimension of love, teaching divine/metaphysical laws and ways to live a reverent spiritual life.

A Trend Toward Spirituality 
The phrase “spiritual but not religious” has become widely used in recent years by some Americans who are trying to describe their religious identity. While Pew Research Center does not categorize survey respondents in such a way, surveys do find that the U.S. public overall appears to be growing a bit less religious‒but also somewhat more spiritual.

A study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2012 found that the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion has increased from 15% in 2007 to 20% in 2012. One fifth of the US public and a third of adults under the age of 30 are reportedly unaffiliated with any religion, however they view themselves as being spiritual in some way. Of these religiously unaffiliated Americans, 37% classify themselves as spiritual, not religious, while 68% say they do believe in God, and 58% feel a deep connection to the earth.    http://www.pewforum.org/files/2012/10/NonesOnTheRise-full.pdf

Changing Times
The latest survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center in 2014, finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are not affiliated with a religion has jumped over six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.

Furthermore, the study suggests, that in some ways Americans are becoming more spiritual. About six-in-ten adults now say they regularly feel a deep sense of “spiritual peace and well-being,” up 7% since 2007. And 46% of Americans say they experience a deep sense of “wonder about the universe” at least once a week, also up 7 points over the same period.

Overall, 64% of religiously affiliated adults say they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly, compared with only 40% those who are unaffiliated. Even among the “non-believers,” there has been a recent 5-point rise in the people who say they frequently feel spiritual peace (from 35% in 2007 to 40% in 2014).  www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/21/americans-spirituality/

To address this decreasing trend in religious affiliation. Some religious organizations and particular churches; are embracing progressive spiritual concepts into their organizational structure and worship service.

In closing
The concept of spirituality and its practice is growing, especially among younger adults. Research shows people are abandoning fear based doctrines and self- righteous authority figures within the religious structures. As a result, more people are favoring the exploration of a higher truth on their own. Spirituality seems to offer an attractive fit to this new paradigm shift.

As humanity is becoming more globally connected, people have greater exposure to spiritual traditions and ways of living from around the world. A sort of West means East encounter is happening.

People are embracing and including several spiritual traditions into their lifestyle. There is a greater desire to know and understand our neighbor and ourselves, in relation to not just the world and God, but to the wonders of the universe‒our connection to all that is.

Spirituality, with its progressive concepts and teachings provides a vehicle to assist individuals toward one’s divinity.

I believe, if religions are to sustain themselves in the years ahead; it seems important for them to begin to embrace the concepts and ideas of spirituality.

Progressive churches of some religions are realizing the value of incorporating the ideals of spirituality as a way of connecting with people. While offering a more universal and holistic approach.

There is value in taking the productive love based concepts and teachings of religion and merging these with spirituality. Offering an inclusive, love and acceptance based way of assisting individuals on their journey.

After all, we are to expand the mind and open the heart. This is how growth and transformation happens on both the soul and human level.

I welcome your comments.

Are you curious and seeking more information or guidance with your spiritual journey? A gentle resource is just a phone call or email away. Please contact David Schroeder if you would like support with your spiritual concerns and journey. David offers life transition and spiritual growth counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and move through life transitions.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life transition coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through his website: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

Navigating Change and Transition: From Struggle to Opportunity

As a therapist and life transition coach, most people seek my services, because they are experiencing a life change and are struggling with the transition of this change. An aspect of love is the willingness and ability to move through the transition change creates.

Change comes in a variety of ways. Such as: getting married, birth of a child, a death of a loved one, a partner’s affair, a divorce, job loss or transfer, or a grown child going to college. Some transitions can seem positive on one hand, yet create change and adjustment from our norm. So you may struggle for a time, adapting to “what is” now.

There is a difference between change and transition in the following ways.    

  • Change happens first and transition occurs due to the change.
  • Change can be seen as a shift from a norm, transition is the process of moving from one norm/way of being to another. Transition is the adjustment and adaptations we make from the change.
  • Change is usually an external experience, where transition is more of an internal process.
  • Change is often more sudden, more visible and tangible. Transition is a slower process, less visible, more intangible.

Change for people can be difficult to accept and move through, both physically and especially emotionally. It’s natural to want the situation and/or person back to how it was (old way).  Many people need certainty and to know the outcome, within what has now changed (new way).

The resistance to change, the need for certainty and the need to know, in the mist of the unknown, are often what causes many people to struggle with change. The need for certainty and control, leads to fear and resistance; creating racing thoughts, and self-created perceptions of negative outcomes.

This will lead to distributive sleep pattern, drained energy, and little motivation to move forward. The end result can be depression and/or anxiety. We become stuck in the mud of a self-defeated mindset. The process of transition has now become more difficult and overwhelming.

For a time, some of this is all normal and part of our process transitioning through change.  It’s important, however, not to get stuck emotionally and physically for too long.

The longer we chose to stay in the emotional and physical fear, avoidance and resistance, the more unhealthy and unproductive power and control we give to the resistance and uncertainty of transition; this does little to change our perception, process and reality to the change.

Human nature is such that when things change, we tend to focuses more on what we believe we will lose or need to give up. Healthy transition through change, one should focus more on what will be the benefits and gains of this process.

These two key Steps begin the process of transition through change: Moving you from struggle to opportunity.

  1. Accept the things I cannot change: This is the first part of the Serenity Prayer from Alcohol Anonymous aa.org. This prayer or principle I believe, applies to all of us when we experience a change in life. There are many experiences in your life you cannot change, and you may feel and believe you are powerless and helpless because of this. You feel like choices/options have been taken away.

    The second part of the prayer says: The courage to change the things I can. The reality is, in life situations, the only thing you can really change is yourself. You change, by changing your perception, thoughts, belief and attitude. It takes acceptance, courage and willingness to change from within.

    The good news and opportunity of this is ‒ there is much inner power and transformation that takes place with the act of acceptance. Acceptance is extremely difficult for many people, yet its incredibility liberating when you allow it to happen within you. Acceptance helps you to focus on the benefits of transition through change, not what you believe will need to be given up or lost in the process.

    To have the willingness and ability to accept what you cannot change, and change what you can; is the fundamental way to begin to change, and reclaim your inner power and determination to move forward. Acceptance is an act of self-love, and a moving forward energy. It acknowledges and accepts “what is.”

    The process of acceptance, doesn’t mean you like what’s changed, rather you recognize that resisting the change only creates more struggle and pain. With acceptance you create an opening to begin to change from within, with regard to what’s change in your life.

    This process helps you begin to gain power in a different way. You see it was your own misguided perception and belief around the difficult situation, which really gave your power away. It wasn’t actually the situation/experience itself. True power and moving through transitions happens when we change from the inside-out.  Acceptance is the beginning of changing from the inside-out.

  2. See the experience and the required process of transition as an Opportunity: If you are resisting the change, you’re likely seeing the change as a threat and the enemy. It’s something to deny, blame, and escape from. These are the mindsets and ways of our fragile and wounded self. This part of us wants to numb the pain and have someone else make it better/or back the way it was.

    It’s important to see and ask yourself: How are my perceptions and beliefs helping me move through this change? What is my pain and resistance reinforcing in me, that keeps me in this state of suffering?  Often in difficult times of change we become our worst critic and enemy, rather than a best friend and ally.

    When you are ready and able, it’s important to see the change, as the teacher and opportunity. Yes, transitions through difficult times, offer you the opportunity for learning and growth. The process of creation, birth and growth begins in the darkness and the struggle.

    The natural world teaches us the importance of the struggle. Take for example, of how the caterpillar transforms into the butterfly, from the struggle within the cocoon. For without the struggle, how would you learn, find a higher meaning to your experience, and grow?

Life is not meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful. When you change your view of the situation, you create the higher meaning of your circumstance, and this allows for the opportunity to transition and transform yourself in empowering ways.

When you alter your thoughts and view of the change, you reduce your fear, your resistance and struggle around the uncertainty. Dr. Wayne Dyer said: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Change and the process of transition, calls us to be open and willing to reframe our belief and choices around the situation; this is how we learn and grow from the difficult and painful experience.

Although change can seem scary and threatening, the true intent of life experiences, especially the difficult and painful ones, is to help us heal, grow wiser, and become more accepting and loving human beings, both to ourselves and with others. Accepting that life is impermanent, that things change, helps you realize, life is about change, and learning to transition‒ adjust and adapt.

Being Honest, Open and Willing, especially with yourself, is part of the HOW to accept the unacceptable, and begin the journey of transitioning from what was‒to what can be.

Want to learn more about love and transition check out my book: Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. www.justbelove1.com, www.amazon.com, www.barnes & noble.com

Are you struggling with moving through a change in your life? Please contact David Schroeder, if you would like assistance with moving through a life change and how to work the process of transition. David offers life transition counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself transition through change.

Being Love in Everyday Life

Many people ask: How do I Be Love? A part of us makes the concept and practice of love more complicated than it intends and needs to be.  Love can be found and can be expressed in simple yet, powerful and meaningful ways. Smiling at a passerby, listening to a friend who’s stressed, offering a hug and saying thank you, petting a cat or dog; these are powerful expressions of love and caring.  In my book, Just Be Love I offer several chapters of where love can be found, yet it’s often not recognized or appreciated. Consider how nature and the universe displays infinite love, when we take a walk in the woods, sit by a stream, honor the rising sun, reflect with the setting sun, or stand, looking up at the night sky in awe at the parade of stars, or watch a gentle snow fall or rain. These are simple ways of Being, experiencing and living Love. They are expressions of love through the divine, and these examples are ways that ground us to the present moment. Life and love are found and experienced in the moment.

Love is Unconditional Giving. The act of giving, of our time, our talents, possessions, a listening ear, or a helpful hand; are ways of expressing and being love. To freely give without consideration of a loss is love without measure. St. Francis of Assisi said: “The greatest measure of love is love without measure.” Being in thoughts and expression of appreciation and gratitude is one of the highest forms of love and giving, and is a pathway to our own inner happiness and peace.

Love is Unconditional Receiving. Many of us can give freely, and it’s a way we feel loved, accepted and worthy. However, we might struggle, even avoid, receiving openly and freely; due to our inner wounded belief of feeling undeserving and unworthy. The struggle to freely receive without offering something in return is often the result of being made to feel guilt or shame, from past experiences. To freely and openly Receive, is to Give.

Being Love Calls us to Our Imagination, which is the soul/spirit of us, to dare to dream and live the childlike qualities and wonders within us. We are called to embrace and be love, for love is who we are. Love is the innocence of our being. There is sacred wisdom and strength in just Being.

Love is Being Our True Self. To be our true and authentic self, is to let go of outside opinions and judgment, of whom and how we should be. Judgment is the withholding of love, and the way of the ego, critical self.  Love is meant to be including and offer freedom. However, an aspect of love is about setting healthy boundaries with others as a way to prevent being taken advantage of and, is an act of care, concern and value toward the self.  It’s healthy to love myself enough to know when a relationship/friendship is hurting me, more than serving me. So out of love it’s important to set myself and the other person free from what’s no longer healthy and constructive. When I do what’s best for me out of love, I do what’s best for others. Accepting the other person, might not understand your decision and actions at the time.

When We Can Be Accepting, offering compassion and forgiveness to others and ourselves, we are being in the thoughts, energy and actions of unconditional love. Love should be one of our highest guiding principles in life. Love is not a condition to be obtained; it’s a certainty to surrender to. Love calls us to let go of our human ego’s will and surrender to the higher and wiser will of the infinite.

Being Love Means, I seek to keep growing and expanding in my openness and willingness to freely love to love. It’s important to keep learning and challenging myself, in order to be the best version of me. Being love invites the self to look for the good in others, the world and myself, and to view my experiences, especially the difficult ones, from the higher perspective.

Can You Just Be Love? After all love is all you really are.  Questions to consider: What are some ways you can Just Be Love?  What would cause you to be more fearful and resistance of loving and accepting someone for who they are?  What could you do for yourself to release this resistance?   What would be the benefits of this for you and your relationship with others?

Feel free to leave a comment.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

Is your Heart Open or Closed To Love?

In my book, Just Be Love, I write about the importance of the heart as the seat of love in the human body and its experiences. The heart is one of the most important sensory organs in the human body. In the fetus, the heart starts beating before the brain is totally formed. The heart has its own neurons, as many, if not more than the brain. The heart may well be the true brain of the human body, since it is sending as much information to the brain in our head as this brain is sending to the heart. The human heart’s electromagnetic field is five thousand times more powerful than that of the mind. 

The heart holds the energy and expression of love. Imagine there is a doorway to love within the human body, and this door is through the heart. For many people, due to difficult and painful life experiences, love can seem to have gone wrong or broken apart. The heart can become guarded, even closed to protect the wounded self. When the heart is emotionally closed so is the door, and we can become fearful and cautious. So we’re not free and happy within the chambers in our heart. Then the mind follows the path of the heart, through fear, avoidance, resistance and non-acceptance of “what is.”  A closed heart contributes to a person becoming resentful, bitter, isolated and depressed. It’s like a dark prison, which we ordered ourselves to be confined to. Our inner judge; for various reasons saw fit to impose this self inflicted sentence, as a way to make sense of something that perhaps makes no sense or seems so unfair to us. We experience such inner torment and pain, which this prison seems to offer safety and security, as only a distorted illusion can do. Research has shown, we can become sick even die, from a closed, sad and lonely heart.

When the heart is open, we are free and vibrant, love flows within and through us, as a free flowing energy exchange called, giving and receiving.  An open heart is an including heart. Love is inclusion, fear is exclusion. An open heart is one that has found acceptance in “what is.” Acceptance is often the pivotal step toward freedom from the grips of grief, resentment, depression, anxiety, addiction, you name it. To put it simply an open heart is a free and loving heart, and is a way to expand the mind in possibilities. An open heart values the importance of expressing gratitude and appreciation. It allows for compassion, reconciliation or forgiveness to be. An open heart is the key to unlock us from the self-imposed prison we may be confined to.   

I offer 3 tips to open your heart to love and goodness. These can help alter your life in heartfelt and liberating ways.

  1. Be in Appreciation, Gratitude and Care, Toward Yourself and Others: This creates heart coherence i.e. balance, peace and harmony within the heart center; which will transfer to a calmer, more positive impulses, responses and behaviors from our brain.
  2. Do Your Inner Work, to Reconcile, the wound and/or grief of your past. Your heart does not create coherence i.e. openness, balance, peace and harmony, if it’s closed, bitter or sad. 
  3. Be Love: Allow yourself to accept you are love. In this gift of acceptance, give yourself permission to do acts of loving kindness to yourself and others, without conditions or expectations.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love, is available through my websites:transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

Reclaiming Our Self-Worth

It seems the need and search for love and acceptance dramatically impacts our sense of self-worth. Yes, we get hurt in the name of love and some people don’t accept us for who we are. In this, we believe love can hurt. But that’s not the truth. Its actually our expectations, judgment, need for control, our feeling of rejection, loneliness, and loss that hurts. These are the results of fear, our belief we are not enough, we are not lovable, which closes the heart and thus we diminish our sense of worth.

The feeling of unworthiness is most often the byproduct of growing up. Many of us have had unpleasant experiences throughout our life. Painful and traumatic experiences, especially in childhood, create lingering physical, emotional and spiritual scars in body, mind and spirit. Growing up, intently or unintentionally we get wounded in a variety of unloving ways. In my book, Just Be Love I mention the “five core wounds” of the human personality: Rejection, Abandonment, Betrayal, Injustice and Humiliation. We generally have one of the first three listed as a primary core wound and from this wound let’s say: Abandonment, comes one form the last two, Injustice or Humiliation, say Injustice. So my core wounds would be Abandonment and Injustice, because they have the strongest emotional charge for me, when I think about my life from childhood to present. These wounds have negative self-beliefs attached to them such as: I’m not enough, I’m not deserving, I’m not lovable, I’m not worthy, etc. These beliefs, along with the perceptions and feelings that go with them often create self-defeating behaviors and outcomes in certain areas of our life.

Our core wounds are often unconscious, and they get triggered by present experiences and people. If the core wound is not resolved, we can experience similar feelings/emotions and beliefs in the present situations, like we did during a difficult/painful experience when we were younger. In other words, the present experience, reminds the unconscious little boy or girl in us of a similar childhood experience, and so we feel and thus act out the present situation in unconscious and often immature ways. This is part of the human condition and living an ego with shadow parts. The ego or lower self, being our internal defense mechanism and internal police officer, that serves and protects us. The shadow is what we repress or deny within ourselves, or project on to others. If all this is left unconscious and unresolved within our psyche, it has unchallenged power and influence in our life. That often leads to low motivation, limited potential, low self-esteem, a disconnect with the spirit within, troubled relationships and  unhappiness.

The following are 6 ways to improve self-worth. Be gentle, patient and determined in the practice of these tips. Realize as you work these tips, the lower/wounded side of you will resist these and other tips you may seek to incorporate. It will do its best to talk you out of reclaiming your worth. Because, there is a part of you that doesn’t believe you are worthy, enough and lovable. If you give in to this part of you; you give away your power and sense of happiness, peace and contentment. The higher more loving part of you wants you to remember the love, worthiness and goodness you are. It’s time isn’t it? Out of love, give yourself permission, space and time to remember, and return to the love and value you are. The choice and opportunity is yours. If not now, when? The time is Now, love is in the now. Change and growth happens in the Now. Please say yes to loving yourself. What do you say? You can do it, and you so deserve to reclaim your worth and goodness. 

1. Important to Recognize: Become aware that you have diminished your self-worth, by the negative perceptions, thoughts and beliefs you hold about yourself. We can’t change something until we are aware of it, and accept it. The first step to change is awareness and telling the truth to ourselves about ourselves, without shame or guilt. When we accept ourselves in this moment and how we’ve learned to be in life, we begin the process of changing it. This truth telling is an act of unconditional love and acceptance. The very thing we would like from others, we first should offer to ourselves. This is an act of self-love, showing concern and value to the self. This is changing from the inside-out, empowering ourselves, to be a better version of ourselves.

2. We are Always and in All Ways Love: Despite the difficult and painful life experiences, that may have seemed unloving and/or uncaring from others. It’s important not to give up the love and goodness we truly are. This is part of what we are to learn from our life experiences, not to lose the love and goodness we are. No one outside of us really takes our sense of love and worth away, we decide to give it away, because someone hurt us.

3. Reconnect with Your Shadow and Wounded Parts: This is an expression of compassion to the self. It shows concern and value for the parts of you that feel betrayed, rejected or abandoned. The parts of you that believe they are unworthy, unloved, or enough. Acknowledge and affirm to them they are doing the best they know how to be, yet you desire now to reclaim their innocence, to show them a better, more loving way to be and live. Tell them the truth of your innocence, divinity and goodness. Treat yourself as you would treat others, and want others to treat you; this is your birthright and part of your purpose.

4. My Mirror: Practice daily, looking in the mirror without shame, guilt or embarrassment. See, acknowledge and honor your innocence, beauty, strength, resilience and gifts. The true reflection from the mirror sees and knows your innocence, strengths, beauty and goodness. When we judge who we see in the mirror, we are withholding love and reinforcing unworthiness. To acknowledge our innocence and gifts reflecting in the mirror is offering unconditional love and acceptance, reinforcing our worth. I have a moving chapter in my book: Just Be Love, entitled Love and the Mirror, that offers a story and poem of “My Mirror.”

5. Commit to the Practice, of catching yourself falling into the gibes, belief and ways of your lower/wounded voice. Acknowledge the voice of the lower/wounded self, and say thank you for its opinion and how it’s may seem self critical and judgmental. However, we desire to be in the energy of love and acceptance for the wounded self, yet not give in to him or her. In this, than make the loving and caring choice to turn the negative self-defeating thinking into positive, uplifting and empowering thoughts and actions. It’s simply a matter of choice, and willingness to create a new habit within the mind. When you commit to yourself, you greatly reduce the emotions of the past to control your circumstances in the present. To say Yes to yourself, is saying Yes to Love.

Think of a situation when someone offers you something, but you really don’t want or need what they offer. The polite and empowering response to this person, is to acknowledge and appreciate their offer, by saying: “Thank you.” Then saying: “I am not in need of this offer.” In other words you are politely saying: “Thanks, but no thanks.” Practice the “Thank you” exercise to the lower self for expressing its opinion/perspective, yet say: “Thank you, but no thank you” to where it wants to take you with its thoughts and belief.  Share with the lower/wounded self, the more positive and affirming thoughts and belief you are choosing to hang with now and the benefits of this. Affirm, it’s negative and self defeating thoughts and views no longer serve you, and you are now choosing more positive and uplifting thoughts, beliefs and ways. You desire to affirm and live the ultimate truth of yourself, not your manufactured false truth about yourself you created years ago. Invite the lower/wounded part of you to come along with your more uplifting and empowering thoughts and beliefs. Notice how much better you feel, when you make a more loving and affirming choice for yourself. Acknowledge the self-love and goodness of this choice.  

6. Use Affirmations Daily, which seek to reinforce the truth of you, such as: I am love, I am innocence, I am freely loving myself, I am goodness, I accept all parts of myself and love them unconditionally. I am worthy, I am whole, I am compassionate to myself. I choose to be my best friend. I am a lovable, capable and worthy human being. I am a perfect, capable, lovable, worthy and radiant spiritual being, having a human experience. I am learning to be a better version of myself, and this feels good ‒ I deserve this worthy and good feeling.

As you journey back to worthiness, allow yourself to seek out support through friends and if needed experts in mental health.  Seeking support and/or assistance is a sign of strength and expresses value to the self. Call upon your “I Can” spirit to assist you in reclaiming your worthiness. With a compassionate heart and willing mind, summon the courage to change and create a new more empowering direction for yourself; and more loving, accepting connection with all parts of you.  Just Be Love – For only Love is real, and Who you are!

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  David’s book Just Be Love, is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com/ or justbelove1.com/. Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com

 

Why Am I Here?

Many people struggle with the question, Why am I here? Why am I having this experience? We struggle with seeing the higher perspective and meaning to our experiences, especially painful ones.
In my book Just Be Love, I talk about the soul in human form, being here to experience, to create, to remember love, to serve, and to expand in awareness. Love is the primary mode for our life journey. Our experiences ask us to: Understand, Accept, have Courage, Compassion, and to Forgive or Reconcile. These concepts are acts of love, promoting healing, inner peace, spiritual maturity and growth.

It seems the more we can come to Understand our life experiences from the higher perspective, the greater our ability to Accept the “what is” of life experiences, especially the difficult or painful ones. When we can accept, rather than expect, we have fewer disappointments. Acceptance connects us more deeply with the divine, puts us on the path to freedom, divine love is freedom. With acceptance, comes the Courage to change what we can, which is often just ourselves, i.e. our perspective, thoughts, belief, attitude, and behavior. To alter our life, we must alter the belief and attitude in our mind and open our heart. silhouette-in-sunAcceptance is to embrace life and love. We can’t change something in our life, unless we accept how life is in this moment. It helps us gain greater clarity of our life and how we are moving through it. Acceptance brings inner power and confidence back to us, to move forward in our journey. It opens our mind to entertain and create new possibilities beyond our created story and illusion, to more fully learn the intended lesson of the experience. This creates expanded awareness and growth in body, mind and spirit. Courage is an act of love, and the willingness to move your life forward from what you have accepted.Acceptance and Courage generates the willingness to step out of our comfort zone, in order to move through change with a greater degree of ease and grace.

To have Compassion, is to be present with the pain, without judging, blame or being defined by it. This is especially important with the self. Self-compassion softens the inner critic, and is an elevated path to higher learning, inner happiness and joy. Compassion creates space for new possibilities to come to be.

To Forgive or Reconcile the self or another for an error or feeling of injustice, is to move beyond the wounded self, and set the prisoner free- the prisoner being ourselves. The act of forgiveness helps us rise above the wrongdoing, and choose love and peace over guilt, judgment, grievance or resentment.

To Understand, Accept, have Courage, Compassion, and to Forgive, is to Serve and Remember Love. It is to punch a hole through our cloud of darkness and illusion, in order to illuminate the light and love of truth within our experiences, in order to discover the true and divine self, and Rise as Love, because Love is who we are.

 

 David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of “Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey.” His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. Visit his website: transitionpathways.com

2014 men’s retreat

A Gathering of Men

Fall Weekend Retreat

The Way of Self-Mastery

October 3-5 2014

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.—Lao Tzu

A retreat for men seeking greater understanding, spiritual growth and connection with fellow men. The weekend is designed for self and collective exploration, reflection and celebration.

 Retreat theme The Way of Self-Mastery. The spiritual masters of past and present have a way of being and living upon the earth. It is my understanding that many of the masters including Jesus often saw and affirmed the master in those they interacted with. We are all masters in our own way and essence. Michelangelo said, upon carving the statue of David, that David was already in the stone. Michelangelo’s role was to remove/chip away at the stone wall that hid David. We all have a wall and barrier built around us that hides and represses the mastership of us.

Through open dialogue and shared information, this retreat offers some of the common traits and ways of the masters and how they lived upon the earth. We will explore what we as growing and evolving men can do to more effectively live in self-mastery.

Facilitated by: David Schroeder, LCSW, CPC

Retreat dates: Friday evening Oct. 3 – Sun. Oct. 5 mid-afternoon

Site: Camp Emmaus Mt. Morris, IL

Retreat Fee: $125.00 includes retreat materials, 2 nights lodging, meals are pot luck with shared food expenses.

Registration deadline Sept. 24, deposit fee $50.00 required at time of registration  Contact David @ 815-238-4521 or humor311@sbcglobal.net

Weekend includes meditations, soulful reflection and fellowship

Camp Emmaus is just east of Mt. Morris, IL off route 64, 34 miles south of Rockford, IL. Camp has 97 acres of wooded area along with a graceful pond, creeks and walking trails. accommodations in retreat lodge are complete with bathrooms showers, kitchen & dinning area. Sleeping area are bunk beds with mattress.

As a soul explorer, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Life Coach, David understands and works the task and tools to transforming wounds into spiritual lessons and self-actualization. His Practice Transition Pathways in Rockford, IL seeks to assist people in using their inner pathways to growth, healing and potential. For over 25 years, David has been assisting people in healing, personal and spiritual development. David has been leading men’s groups and retreats for the past 6 years, offering pathways to self discovery, growth and fellowship. He is also finishing his first book, Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey

Power of Being

Power of Being: Unlocking Blocks to Potential 
Offered through Rock Valley College Community Education

What causes you to feel stuck, trapped or overwhelmed?  Do you feel uncertainty and fear?  Do you notice your energy being drained by it all?  This class offers information, exercises and tools to answer these questions and more. Gain a better understanding of why you show up the way you do and more importantly learn effective ways to shift your thinking and energy to unlock the blocks to growth and potential. 

Topics include: 

  • Two Types of Energy We Live With
  •  Seven Levels of Self-Leadership
  •  Four Main Energy Blocks to Our Potential
  •  Consciously Aligning Yourself to Values
  •  The Power & Energy of Your Thoughts & Words
  •   Importance of Desire, Belief & Acceptance in Reaching Potiental
  •   Meditations to Manifest Your Desire

Instructor: David Schroeder, LCSW,CPC
Class held at: Rock Valley College 3301 N. Mulford Rd. Rockford, IL
Day/Time: Thursdays Sept 22 – Oct. 6   6:00 – 9:00pm
Fee: $75.00
Pre-Regristration Through Rock Valley College CommunityEducation 815-921-3900 or online @www.rockvalleycollege.edu/onlineservices. For class info. contact David @ 815-238-4521 or david@transtionpathways.com