What do you think of whenever someone uses the word faith? Is it negative? Is it positive? Commonly, it is associated with strict religious doctrine as a way to guilt people into belief. This is referred to as blind faith. This is dangerous, Blind faith in anything, spiritual or otherwise, is misunderstood to be somewhat of a virtue. However, it can be very destructive. Many good-hearted people are left trapped and unhappy by following a path based on faith. The word faith in most cases can be synonymous with the word trust. Trust needs to be built and just as you can build trust, you can also build mistrust. The building up of trust or faith comes from experience, evidence-based on the situation at hand. For example; I trust that my family will be there for me in a time of need as whenever I have been in a time of need, they have provided. My faith in my family has grown stronger in that area because of my experience. Imagine that in every different situation in life, you could see a little faith meter next to the problem you are facing. With every situation, we are compelled to action or inaction based on a level of faith we have at that time. This, you can start to see, is responsible for shaping the lives we live, our accomplishments and our personalities. It can either push us through hard times or destroy us before we even start.
How do we control our faith then?
It is commonly believed ,that our faith is an internal spiritual mechanism that we cannot control. On the contrary, we choose our faith from moment to moment. It is the inner voice that you allow to linger that builds your perceptions of events. If we have views that are negative towards people, of course, it stands to reason that our faith in people will be low. Follow this logic through to conclusion and you will see we are in control of a lot of our perceptions. What is faith if not a perception? A fable I heard recently really applies to what I am trying to convey here.
“In each person there are two starving wolves. Each day these wolves are at war with each other. One wolf represents goodness i.e. humility, honesty and love and the other wolf represents evil i.e. pride, envy and dishonesty. The wolf that wins the war is not the bigger or the better one, it is the wolf you feed.”
The reason I am talking about this, is often I come across people who have little faith in people but even less faith in themselves. They are perpetually feeding negativity into their lives while asking the question, “why am I not happy?”. Speaking negatively of yourself does not make you humble, it makes you diffident, insecure and depressed. We are surrounded by people in a competition to tell everyone how bad they are at something! We are responsible for our own happiness regardless of the circumstances we face, and I say this knowing that some people reading this are facing particularly hard circumstances.
So then, what to do now? To say it simply, if you want to build faith in yourself, give yourself something that you can use as evidence to believe in yourself. For example, if you do not think you are a good person, make an effort each day to do something nice for someone that you can use to say “see, I am a good person”. Use this logic in any area you lack faith in. If you lack faith in your friends, set them easy hurdles that would serve as evidence to you that you can believe in them. If you lack faith spiritually, then set spiritual tasks for yourself to build up your faith. This can be best understood by adopting a mindset that your world does not need to be chaos, that perhaps there could be a more significant reason for your suffering and taking a relaxed, trusting attitude to your day rather than assuming the worst in every situation. Spiritual faith is no different than any other type of faith other than it presents its evidence in ways we are not accustomed to. I am a firm believer in ‘what you seek you will find’. If you don’t believe miracles can happen, then you will never see them. If you think you will never find a person to share an intimate relationship with, then chances are you are right. The moment to moment thoughts we allow to linger, ultimately determine the path we walk. I encourage you to take some time to ask yourself, based on the thoughts you have moment to moment, what path are you heading down?
Now think about the path you would like to be on. What thoughts would have to change to fit on this new path?
Building faith is consistent hard work, but to be fair, what in life worth doing isn’t hard work? Start by monitoring your thoughts, both through your general day and your spiritual practices. Keep a diary of thoughts that stood out to you. Do not worry if you were overly critical, just notice the thoughts. Once you feel like you have a grip on what your mind is doing, get involved and reorder negative perceptions to positive ones. Again, this is not easy. From there I guarantee your view on the world will start to change. From the inside out you will have begun to have faith in yourself and faith in others. You will become a person that people are drawn to, because you have a strength and confidence to be admired. And when they ask you how you are so confident, then you know you have indeed changed.
Love and peace be with you all.