I am a 45-year-old recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I have lived a very rough life both in childhood and as an adult. I was physically abused by my father in childhood and was emotionally abused by my ex-wife.
Life has not been easy for me, but I refuse to give up. I have become a very spiritual person and have learned the importance of prayer. I attend church faithfully and feel good when I am within the church walls.
However, after I leave church, I struggle significantly with my past demons. I never attended treatment for my emotional issues, but over the past five years, I have been on a personal journey to improve myself and to grow personally. I have grown spiritually and rely on God’s word to strengthen me, but I still feel that something is missing.
I feel grounded spiritually, but not in my flesh. I do not know what else I can do to become a well-rounded or whole person. I want to be the best person I can be both spiritually and mentally, and I need your help.
Thanks in advance,
Man on A Journey
Dear Man on A Journey,
I am sorry to hear about your abuse, but I am glad to hear you found peace in your spirituality. Unfortunately, many of us go through life trying to figure out how to become the best person we can be. However, due to the lack of basic and healthy coping skills, thousands of individuals fail to address and resolve their personal shortcomings and overcome past demons.
I interact and work with hundreds of individuals who are skilled in applying scripture and Christian principles but lack day-to-day healthy coping skills. Regrettably, this practice is very common among many ethnic groups, especially African Americans.
As a black man, I was told the key to becoming a “Whole Person” was to pray and develop a relationship with God. While I believe this to be true, I also believe it is as equally important to get professional help.
In my opinion, a “whole” person is equipped with practical and spiritual knowledge and lives a balanced lifestyle by applying both in his or her daily interactions. However, achieving wholeness is not an easy task because individuals who seek professional counseling are sometimes perceived to be “crazy” or “unstable.” Such negative stereotypes reinforce individuals’ resistance to seeking professional help even when they need it.
Despite my own personal teachings as a member of the African American community, I have found that individuals who combine psychotherapy with spiritual guidance are more capable of developing healthy coping skills and often possess balanced life perspectives. Given this, I truly believe the most effective method to become a whole person is to combine psychological and spiritual counseling.
Until you learn to achieve balance, you will continue to experience difficulty with coping with your demons. Acquiring knowledge through professional counseling and then combining it with spiritual guidance will position you to become the whole person God wants you to be.
With this in mind, do not solely rely on what is common to you, especially if it is not working.
Misguidedly, people navigate through life by using their “common sense” instead of seeking help. The sole use of common sense is not very effective in my opinion because common sense is really not so common.
Individuals typically do what is common to them. With this in mind, do not solely rely on what is common to you, especially if it is not working. If you are spiritually grounded but continue to struggle with coping with your demons, seek professional counseling. If you maximize your options, I guarantee that becoming a whole person will come with minimum distress. You should always strive to enhance your spiritual and emotional well-being.
You will not always understand everything that happens in your life and will struggle to cope at times, but the Word teaches us to: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Continue to nurture your spirituality, but remember to seek professional counseling to nurture your flesh. This is the true meaning of becoming a whole person.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.
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