IDENTIFY YOUR HIGHER POWER

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 … AND MAKE YOURSELF FEEL MORE POWERFUL

Whether you believe in one God, many gods, a divine universe, or the goodness that exists within each human being, having faith in something bigger and more powerful than yourself can often make you feel empowered, safe, and calm. This is what people mean when they talk about believing in a “higher power” or seeing “the big picture” in life. Believing in something divine, holy, or special can help you endure stressful situations as well as help you soothe yourself.

At some point in life, we all feel hopeless or powerless. We’ve all experienced unfortunate situations during which we felt alone and needed strength. Sometimes unexpected circumstances hurt us or the people we care about. These situations often include being the victim of a crime, getting into an accident, having someone close to us die, or being diagnosed with a serious illness.

Having faith in something special during times like these can often help you feel connected to a bigger purpose in life. And remember, your faith doesn’t have to involve God if that’s not what you believe in. Some people only put their faith in the goodness of the people they love. Yet basic beliefs like these are often powerful enough to help people find the strength and comfort to lead happy, healthy lives. While you’re exploring your spirituality, remember that your spiritual beliefs can change over time. Sometimes a person is raised in a spiritual tradition that no longer makes sense or feels helpful. Yet, despite these feelings, a person will sometimes continue to attend the services of that tradition because he or she thinks “it’s the right thing to do.” The truth is, if your spiritual tradition is no longer giving you peace and strength, it’s okay to reexamine that faith and to change traditions if necessary.

Connect to Your Higher Power

Use the following questions to help you identify your beliefs and to identify some ways in which you can strengthen and use your beliefs on a regular basis:

1.What are some of your beliefs about a higher power or a big picture that give you strength and comfort?

2.Why are these beliefs important to you?

3.How do these beliefs make you feel?

4.How do these beliefs make you think about others?

5.How do these beliefs make you think about life in general?

6.How do you acknowledge your beliefs throughout your daily life?

7.For example, do you go to church, synagogue, or temple?

8.Do you pray?

9.Do you talk to other people about your beliefs?

10.Do you read books about your beliefs?

11.Do you help other people?

-What else would you be willing to do in order to strengthen your beliefs?

-What can you do to remind yourself of your beliefs on a regular basis?

-What can you say or do to remind yourself of your beliefs the next time you’re feeling distressed?

Exercise: Higher-Power Activities

Here are some additional activities to help you feel more connected to your higher power, the universe, and the big picture. Check (…) the ones that you’re willing to do:

(   )    If you do believe in the teachings of a particular religion or faith, find related activities that make you feel more empowered and calm. Go to your church, synagogue, or temple for services. Talk to the man or woman who runs your services. Talk to other members of your faith about how they’ve handled difficult experiences. Join discussion groups formed at your place of worship. Read the books that are important to your faith. Find passages that give you strength, and mark them or copy them to keep with you in your wallet or purse so you can read them no matter where you are.

(   )    Remember that your higher power can also be something other than God. Your higher power can be a person who makes you feel stronger and more confident to deal with the challenges that you face. Think of someone you admire who can be your higher power. Describe that person. What makes that person special? Then, the next time you’re in a difficult or distressing situation, act as if you are that person, and notice how you handle the situation differently.

(   )    Look up at the stars. The light you’re seeing is millions of years old, and it has traveled from stars that are billions of miles away. In fact, each time you look up at the stars, you’re looking through a time machine and seeing the universe as it looked billions of years ago. Strangely, many of the stars you’re looking at have already died, but their light is just reaching your eyes on the Earth. Look up at the stars and recognize that whatever created them also created you, whether it was God or a cosmic accident. You are connected to the stars. Imagine yourself connecting with the universe. Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and imagine a white beam of light shining down from the universe. Like a laser beam, the white light shines on the top of your head and fills you with a feeling of peace. Now imagine the white light spreading all over your body, relaxing every muscle. Now imagine your legs stretching down through the floor like giant tree trunks, going all the way down into the center of the Earth. Imagine these roots tapping into the energy that drives the planet. Feel your body fill with confidence as your legs absorb the golden energy flowing up from the Earth.

(   )    Think about our planet Earth. Water is the most important substance for sustaining life on our planet. Yet if we were much closer to the sun, all the water on our planet would evaporate because the temperature would be too hot, and if we were much farther away, all the water would freeze because the temperature would be too cold. Somehow, we’ve been lucky enough to be in just the right place for life to form. Even if you don’t believe in a religious purpose, ask yourself what it means that you live on a planet with just the right climate and elements for life to exist. How did this happen, and what does it mean about your life?

(   )    Go to the beach. Try to count the grains in a handful of sand. Now try to imagine how many handfuls of sand there are in the world, on all the beaches and in all the deserts. Try to imagine how many billions of years must have passed to create so many grains of sand. And again, recognize that the chemical elements that make up the sand also exist in you. Stand with your feet in the sand and imagine feeling connected to the planet.

(   )    Go to a park or to a field and observe the trees, the grass, and the animals. Again, recognize that whatever created all of that also created you. Remember that all living things are made of the same chemical elements. On a subatomic scale, there isn’t much difference between you and many other life forms. Yet you are still different and special. What is it that makes you unique from other life?

(   )    Think about the human body, especially your own. Each human being is more wonderful than a piece of artwork and more complex than any computer ever invented. Everything about you is largely determined by your DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the instructions that are found in every cell of your body. Yet amazingly, each set of instructions that creates every part of your body is composed of just four chemical elements that are repeated in different combinations. These different combinations are called genes, and these are the instructions you inherit from your parents that determine everything from your eye color to the structure of your heart. Incredibly, it only takes an estimated thirty to forty thousand genes to design a human being. Imagine trying to write so few instructions in order to create a body that thinks, breathes, eats, moves, and does everything else you do. Plus, remember that this same number of instructions is also responsible for creating approximately 100 billion neurons in your brain, 60,000 miles (!) of blood vessels throughout your body, 600 skeletal muscles, 206 bones, 32 teeth, and 11 pints of blood.

Learn more:

Distress Tolerance Skills:

  1. DISTRESS TOLERANCE SKILLS
  2. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
  3. DISTRACT YOURSELF FROM SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS
  4. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH PLEASURABLE ACTIVITIES
  5. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY PAYING ATTENTION TO SOMEONE ELSE
  6. DISTRACT YOUR THOUGHTS
  7. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY LEAVING
  8. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH TASKS AND CHORES
  9. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY COUNTING
  10. CREATE YOUR DISTRACTION PLAN
  11. RELAX AND SOOTHE YOURSELF
  12. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Smell
  13. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Touch
  14. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Taste
  15. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Hearing
  16. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Vision
  17. Self-Soothing – CREATE A RELAXATION PLAN

Advanced Distress Tolerance Skills:

  1. Advanced Distress Tolerance Skills: Improve the Moment
  2. SAFE-PLACE VISUALIZATION
  3. CUE-CONTROLLED RELAXATION
  4. REDISCOVER YOUR VALUES
  5. SELF-ENCOURAGING COPING THOUGHTS
  6. TAKE A TIME-OUT
  7. LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
  8. IDENTIFY YOUR HIGHER POWER
  9. ADVANCED RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
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