Continuing from Leaving the Fold Marlene Winell’s encouraging list of some of the good one can take away from the fundamentalist or cultic experience, mingled with my own thoughts . . . . (See also her newly established Recovery from Religion website.) — earlier posts under the Winell and Fundamentalism categories linked here.
Fundamentalists and cultists generally reject certain aspects of mainstream society that are to their benefit. “[A] sense of exaggerated self-importance and responsibility is the result of the value our society places on achievement, self-determination, and power. As a result, most people experience some amount of ongoing anxiety.” (p.108 )
With the old dysfunctional belief system the down side was that one would not care enough about the larger material needs of family and self, or trust too much to the care of God or even do damage one’s prospects and needs by giving too much away or assuming that there would be no tomorrow but God’s kingdom. Jobs, family, personal development and interests and more often suffered. Normal responsibilities were too often “sacrificed” by irresponsibility under the rationale of “trusting God”. But there is a good legacy to be salvaged from that. Those of us who have been through that at least know how to accept the things we can’t control in life, and to face situations with a calm and relaxed outlook. That even means accepting our own shortcomings from time to time without overly self-absorbed self-doubts and hates. As often as not this is also the way to finding what we really would like and need in life anyway.
This is the “let it be” legacy that some lucky ones find without having to experience the extremes of fundamentalism.
Recently I heard a most entertaining radio interview with Nigel Latta, a clinical psychologist who has recently authored Before Your Kids Drive You Crazy, Read This! Battlefield Wisdom for Stressed-Out Parents. I know I would have saved myself, and my kids, some good measures of stress along the way had I been open to Nigel’s wit and wisdom when a new parent. Check out the interview here. One part of his message is that parents need to accept what kids will do no matter what.
Acceptance born of understanding of self and our limitations is not a bad way to go.