I integrate both psychology and spirituality into my daily practices.
This article considers some of the similarities and differences between the two approaches.
I go to church. At times in this article, I also consider a religious approach.
I include personal references to how in a time of
chronic illness, I drew and continue to draw on both psychological and spiritual approaches.
Contents for Psychology and Spirituality
Psychology often aims to give you the support to
help you feel OK about your life right now.
For example, with a low sense of self worth you might judge someone's bad behaviour towards you as being a reflection on your worth.
With greater self worth you might get clear that it is 'their behaviour'. You are not defined by their behaviour, and their behaviour says more about them than about you.
The psychological approach can also help you to lower
your expectations so that they are realistic, with the aim of living happily with
the life you have.
A practice such as CBT might help with this.
A spiritual path can also help you to feel ok with the life you have by helping you to rest in the peace that passes understanding – a peace available regardless of the circumstances.
Psychology self help is often about how to change something in your outlook or behaviour to allow you to get more... more happiness, more wealth, better relationships etc.
Some spiritual approaches also help you to reach out for more, for example the Law of Attraction (the LOA).
The Law of Attraction can be seen as an application of certain Bible teachings - religious teachings - which give permission to say the following:
"This life does not match up with the God I know – the God of abundance and love.
I align my thoughts with a vision of my positive outcome, and choose to believe that this vision can come to pass.
I give God access to my mind to change my thoughts.
I hold a vision for a bigger, better life than this."
In addition, if someone believes in a Creator God they may appeal to that God through prayer to change their circumstances.
See an article on Why do we pray?
Psychology self help may guide you in how to set boundaries and how to behave in a way which is more likely to lead people to treat you well, with possible benefits for your self-worth.
Psychology self help can help you to raise your self worth by telling you that you deserve love, financial security etc.
Psychology self help may help you to get clear on how you feel you need to be to be deserving of a good life, and help you to move in the direction of behaving
If you can learn to behave in line with your own idea of what it takes to be deserving, this may raise your self worth. For example, you may reach the point of feeling you are a good citizen or a good mother.
Spirituality tends to place less emphasis on being deserving or raising self worth than the psychological approach.
In this world, an inheritance is the closest we can get to
understanding that we don't have to deserve or work for something.
We receive an inheritance, not because of what we do or what we deserve, but because of the family we are from and because of the abundance of the person who left the Will.
Spirituality says that who you are is a child of God.
Spirituality says God’s Will is that you receive His Love.
Spirituality says you don't need to deserve God’s Love to receive it.
God’s love is not a reflection of your character or ability.
The availability of God’s love for you is a reflection of God’s character and God’s ability.
When we receive God’s love, self worth follows as a natural
Religion often includes
outreach to help the poor, the outcast, and the elderly.
It tends to preach the importance of the dignity of each and every human being.
When it does this well, it contributes to the self-worth of those it serves.
In theory, religion does not insist on someone being deserving in order to give to them. It gives anyway.
Spirituality places less emphasis than psychology on the importance of being treated well and being seen to be treated well.
Consider that Christians and Muslims revere Jesus despite
the fact that he experienced profoundly difficult treatment from others to the
point where he was hung on a cross.
(Mohamed, Ghandi, Martin Luther King - none of these had an easy life.)
The psychological approach is likely to encourage us to build
up a healthy ego.
Spiritual practice, on the other hand, often encourages us to let go of the emphasis on the ego and instead identify with the eternal Self, a self which is not the body.
By improving our relationship with self, psychological self help potentially make us more resilient to changing levels of approval or treatment by others.
Spirituality and religion can offer an additional way of feeling peace during the experience of bad treatment.
It sometimes places emphasis on an after life which is eternal and within which your sufferings will be forgotten.
In some religions, it can also be seen as a great service to offer your sufferings to God.
draw on both psychology and spirituality in my approach to
But my main aim is to go deeper with my experience of receiving God's love.
The need for my sense of self worth to be rooted in something other than this world became apparent to me in a time when so many of the normal joys of life were not available to me. In addition, I was too ill to be seen as useful or deserving by the world.
No matter how good our circumstances or how much we are able to physically contribute, it is never certain that such a situation will continue.
It is in my relationship with God, Source, that I have found a happiness,
a more fulfilling life, a far richer relationship with self and greater
resilience to the difficulties of life.
Psychology self help is profoundly important to me in helping to clear away the junk that blocks my access to God's love.
community, is less essential but important to me. I am deeply grateful for those who run the church I attend.
Religion assists me by being a lynch pin for my spiritual practice, an opportunity to join in community and a way of making 'normal' my spiritual practice by sharing it with others.
I am fond of saying that “there is no such thing as good
advice”. (See the story of the monk and the student in my free ebook.) By this
I mean that what constitutes good advice is different for different people and
under different circumstances.
Psychology and spirituality are broad categories. Writing this article has reminded me that within both you can find directly opposite points of view.
Make sure to
feel free to identify the approaches that work for you in the circumstances you
Both allow for a rich journey of discovery.
Further articles related to psychology and spirituality
Read another article on comparisons between psychology religion and spirituality and what they have to offer. For example, what do they say about inner voices and about the importance of quietening the mind.