Spirituality. How does it factor into the recovery process?  What even is it?  How do we define it?  How does it relate to religion and faith?  How do those factor into recovery? All great questions that I have not paid enough attention to.  This week on The Anxious Truth UK psychotherapist and bestselling author Joshua Fletcher stops by for a great chat about spirituality, its many forms, and the roles it can play in anxiety recovery.  We need to spend more time on this topic from time to time, and we will!

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The Highlights

Drew totally blew it by not hitting the record button, so you missed us providing the answer to life, the universe, and everything.  Sorry about that.  😉

Spirituality and religion are certainly related, but they’re definitely not the same thing.  Josh defines it as the recognition of something larger than oneself and beyond our sensory experience, whatever that may be.

Spirituality and spiritual practice can help provide a push in the direction of recovery. It can be a source of strength, inspiration, and motivation. Sometimes it can be a source of comfort and courage.

Josh makes a great point about having moments in his recovery where he felt that he alone wasn’t enough. In those moments he was able metaphysically draw strength from the presence of loved ones that had passed and are no longer physically here.

One of the lovely things about spirituality is that your spirituality does not require anyone else’s belief, agreement, or approval.  Spiritual practice and spirituality are between you .. and you … and maybe the higher power or metaphysical realm that you hold in your beliefs. Nobody has to be on board with your spirituality for it to be of value to you.

While the use of spirituality in recovery can be wonderful and important, it’s always important that your spiritual belief and practice give you strength, courage, or comfort without hoping that a higher power or metaphysical forces will take away your anxiety or your struggles.  YOU must always get the credit for doing the things that lead to recovery.

Drew and Josh touched on the idea that it is more productive in recovery to thank that higher power for the strength and courage to do the hard work of recovery.  Your spiritual practice and/or faith can still be integrated into your recovery and respected without taking all the credit for making you better.  Relaying on faith (for example) to get you in touch with your inner strength and courage is not a dismissal of a higher power, but an affirmation and celebration of the gifts you’ve been given.

Sometimes faith based recovery can go off the rails when anxiety sufferers are told that they must pray harder, get closer to God, or work harder at their faith so that God will heal them. Without disrespecting organized religion or anyone’s faith, we must at least acknowledge that this can become problematic. The point is that spirituality and faith can be an aid and a vital tool in recovery and should never be a hindrance.

Spirituality not based on traditional faith or religion can also be toxic in nature. Be careful about spirituality that is either fatalistic or acusatory in nature.  Teachers, healers, and guides that tell that you’re not vibrating properly or manifesting properly can become a problem in recovery.  Drew points out spiritual practice that is presented as scientifically “proven” when nothing can be farther from the truth.

That being said, non-traditional spirituality can certainly have value and an important place in the recovery process.  As with any other belief system, if you an find courage, comfort, or strength in it, then don’t let anyone take that away from you.

About Joshua Fletcher (aka Anxiety Josh)

Joshua Fletcher is a qualified and psychotherapist and author based in Manchester in the UK.  Josh, also known as “Anxiety Josh” on social media, specializes in the field of anxiety disorders and stress management. Josh has written several bestselling books on the subject and provides training and talks for individuals, groups, charities and business consultancy.  Josh is also the host of a podcast about anxiety called The Panic Pod.

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Founder and host of The Anxious Truth Podcast. Former anxiety disorder sufferer. Now fully recovered and dedicated to providing no-nonsense, straight-forward, actionable advice on how to overcome anxiety problems.