How to get over a crisis of faith
A personal development article
Let’s all be honest, sometimes positivity fails. Sometimes the bright new future that was being worked towards seems like a sham born out of optimism and foolishness and worse, entirely unobtainable.
So what can you do when you are overwhelmed and your faith falters? Here are some thoughts:
Talk to someone
This can perhaps be the hardest step to take, because it can feel like an admission of failure, yet I think in many ways it might be the most important and powerful step you can take. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be someone who you feel has answers or even someone who knows you that well. The powerful part of this sharing is being able to voice your fears, your mistakes and your anxieties.
Faith tends to wither in isolation and people, especially males, are too inclined when doubts arise to keep them to themselves. Sadly this just results in the doubts growing and building often far beyond their true stature.
The person you chose should ideally have three characteristics –
- be willing to listen to everything you have to say,
- be absolutely confidential (so you can share everything),
- be someone who cares.
Now with that last point they don’t have to care for you on an emotional level but they do need to care that a person is suffering and want to help. Which is why a stranger can fulfil this role – and that could be anything from a stranger in a bar to a professional business coach!
You might be thinking that actually the best person would be someone who does know you emotionally – a partner or spouse but they might be too emotionally invested to listen clearly to everything you need to share and also you may not feel free to talk to them if you feel your doubts and concerns are going to upset them.
Take a break
There is that beautiful poem Leisure by William Davies which ends with the lines
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
He’s absolutely right of course and it’s also a message for the moments when your faith has been lost and all seems too much. Take time out to ‘stand and stare’. Go to a coffee house or out for a walk. Do something that relaxes you and is entirely unconnected with your situation.
Yes your situation will still be there when you get back and you won’t have done anything to change it – expect – you might just come back a little calmer and a little more relaxed. Also whatever has caused you to lose faith will not get that much worse in the space of a few hours (if it will then we are talking crisis management and that’s a different situation!) so realistically you can take some time to collect yourself.
Check your diet
The more stressed or hectic we get often the worse our diet becomes. We live off a diet of rushed meals or junk food. The problem with that is cumulatively it can literally alter your blood chemistry which in turn can affect your mood and mindset.
Make sure you are eating healthy food and enough of it. As Zig Ziglar brilliant puts it in one of his early books you wouldn’t own a million dollar race horse and feed it on rough grass. You’d ensure it had the best nutrition and diet possible. You are that million dollar race horse and if you don’t fuel yourself properly you will struggle.
Plan and take action
So now you’ve talked to someone, taken an evening off and eaten a few health meals that means you’re in a stronger position to take some steps to change your situation. You see sometimes you have to continue your struggles even when you feel low. You don’t always have the luxury of getting your head back together first.
So look at your situation and think about what practical steps you can take to change it. Five quick questions to consider are
- What could you do more of?
- What could you do that you are not doing?
- What could you stop doing that isn’t really helping?
- What has worked in the past?
- What are other people doing in your situation that is working?
For example a young recruitment consultant, who was rapidly losing faith in his new role, expressed some doubts to me recently over how he was doing and also how his company was performing. We talked about some of the above points and the action advice I gave him was very direct and focused - identify core prospects, approach them through multiple means, approach more prospects than he’d been doing, establish a firm sales contact pipeline etc.
I also said that such actions were what the rest of his company should be doing. If he consistently puts those ideas into practice then he should do fine. The challenge for this chap, and for anyone who has lost their faith, is to take those actions without visible results and keep taking them until the results come. Action will save him.
Loss of faith isn’t always a passing thing. Indeed the opposite of faith is despair and that’s a condition that can last for a while. If you are in that place then I do believe that the steps above should start you on the path back to a more positive place.
And a final thought, there is nothing wrong with suffering a crisis of faith, it happens to everyone at some point or other and as Hermann Hesse wrote
“Faith and doubt go hand in hand, they are complementaries. One who never doubts will never truly believe”
Until next time; have faith!
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