Can you please help me with this?  I've been an atheist for half a year now and was doing really well with debunking the old beliefs and feeling safe.

Now I've been around that spiritual mentality again lately, people who are authority figures: the facilitator at a support group, and my mother.

I have been in a vulnerable place in my mind lately.  The support group is for assault survivors, but all the spiritual talk kept making me uncomfortable and reinforcing the topics I used to believe in :(

My mom, who recently became a minister, just visited me a week ago.  She knows about my phobia of spirituality but she keeps doing "energy work" when I'm not looking, or "sending me" "positive energy" "healing" whatever. 

I hadn't seen her in a while.  She wants to see me more frequently but we have other unresolved issues that I need to address with her and I'm really not comfortable being around her until I can address it.

I feel like ever since her visit I've started to be able to "sense" certain things around me again.  I feel credulous like when I used to be a "true believer."  I've always believed my mother has some connection with the "spiritual realm."  Probably just because she believes it so strongly. 

I don't want to be credulous or extra sensitive.  I had been so happy when I realized atheism made more sense than being a believer.  It gave me a sense that there is a real tangible objective reality and that everything else is an illusion.  It made me feel safe that I didn't have to fear punishment or voyeuristic spirits. 

But I regret to say that I've been preoccupied with paranormal thinking of late :( I'm in touch with the part of me that was really fascinated by it years ago and would believe any random claim without checking the facts and get fooled by a cold reading.  I don't want to be that gullible again.  I don't want to get sucked in. 

I really thought I had made so much progress with atheism.  I thought I was free of this psychological burden.  Any thoughts?

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Hey :) I wanted to make sure I got to all of your questions..

Can you please help me with this?  I've been an atheist for half a year now and was doing really well with debunking the old beliefs and feeling safe. Now I've been around that spiritual mentality again lately, people who are authority figures: the facilitator at a support group, and my mother. I have been in a vulnerable place in my mind lately.  The support group is for assault survivors, but all the spiritual talk kept making me uncomfortable and reinforcing the topics I used to believe in :(

A few things... spiritual thinking is reinforced by repetition. But so is a new way of thinking. In order to counteract all this spiritual influence, you can keep reading books by atheist, visiting atheist websites and listening to atheist speakers on youtube (especially authorities like Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan and Christopher Hitchens). I recommend The Atheist Experience, a call in talk show out of Austin, TX. Secondly, this support group is not the right one for you. Therapeutic psychological support does not typically involve religion or spirituality. Most groups will seek to be inclusive of everyone's religion or leave out the topic all together. Please do a little research and find something else, for your sake and well being :) I stopped attending 12 step groups for that very reason.

My mom, who recently became a minister, just visited me a week ago.  She knows about my phobia of spirituality but she keeps doing "energy work" when I'm not looking, or "sending me" "positive energy" "healing" whatever. I hadn't seen her in a while.  She wants to see me more frequently but we have other unresolved issues that I need to address with her and I'm really not comfortable being around her until I can address it.

I wouldn't say that you have a phobia, that is an irrational fear. I would say that you are logically and wisely avoiding a belief system that has harmed your well-being in the past. Your irrational fears are the fears that there is something out there, unseen and invisible or from another "realm" that can harm you. But you're working on that :) It doesn't really matter if your mom sends you energy healing and prays for you all day and all night. It will have no effect except for maybe making you wonder why she is wasting her time... It doesn't hurt you in any way, so there isn't much harm in ignoring that behavior. Also, you answered your own question about seeing her more frequently. You're not ready yet, right? I think you're perfectly justified to feel that way. Hopefully, she will respect your decision and what for your feelings to change.

I feel like ever since her visit I've started to be able to "sense" certain things around me again.  I feel credulous like when I used to be a "true believer."  I've always believed my mother has some connection with the "spiritual realm."  Probably just because she believes it so strongly. 

Just try to remember that we do sense things around us all the time, real things in the world that are picked up by our sensory system and interpreted by our brains. Sometimes, our brain makes mistakes so that a gust of wind through a window sounds like a moaning voice! Or goosebumps make us feel like we are not alone or someone is watching us. These are all reactions that we have developed over time to protect us from predators. So, it's good that you are tuned in to what your body is trying to tell you. I think what you are sensing is the unease that this situation is creating. You are feeling stressed and your body is trying to find the source of the threat. Take some time to relax, I know it sounds trite but it really helps.

I don't want to be credulous or extra sensitive.  I had been so happy when I realized atheism made more sense than being a believer.  It gave me a sense that there is a real tangible objective reality and that everything else is an illusion.  It made me feel safe that I didn't have to fear punishment or voyeuristic spirits. But I regret to say that I've been preoccupied with paranormal thinking of late :( I'm in touch with the part of me that was really fascinated by it years ago and would believe any random claim without checking the facts and get fooled by a cold reading.  I don't want to be that gullible again.  I don't want to get sucked in. I really thought I had made so much progress with atheism.  I thought I was free of this psychological burden.  Any thoughts?

If you'll look at my profile and my posts, you may be able to see a post that I put up a while back called "Backsliding?" I think. I was feeling the same way you are! I felt like I missed the magick so much, I missed the feelings of fascination and mystery... but you ARE making progress. You ARE coming to a place where other people won't be able to fool you anymore. You just have to internalize this new way of living. And then you will feel free of the burden. Of course, there are burdens to this reality too... we'll never see our loved ones after death, there is no karma to punish evil, life isn't fair... but you know, I think all that is easier to deal as an atheist.

I actually did a little experiment the other night. The moon was beautiful so I went out on my balcony. I thought, "If I was still pagan, I would want a sign from the universe, or mother nature or the moon goddess, that she saw me too... I would wait for a gust of wind or an animal to happen by..." And sure enough, the wind picked up just then! I had to laugh. Of course if you stand out on your balcony on a spring night, there will eventually be a gust of wind! Or a bird, or a cat or whatever! I was able to laugh, not because my sign did not appear but because it did appear and I knew it was not a sign at all. I hope this moment comes for you too :)

All the best,

Allison

Thanks! Your response was incredibly helpful and thorough!  Thanks for the reminder that I'd read those logical rational arguments. It feels like I get amnesia of all the new things I learn, but your explanation covered that well. I've had the repetition and now I need the reverse repetition. How logical!

Thanks for your feedback about the support group. I did end up leaving it.  I don't know any other groups around me, but I'm sure there will be one eventually.

Yeah, I know, twelve step is so religious!  I used to do Alateen.

Yup, working on the relaxation techniques. I bought a book on anxiety/phobias but got annoyed with religious stuff. Yeah, its so hard to find self help books that aren't filled with new age stuff or other woo.

I'm looking forward to that show you mentioned! I bought some more books Why People Believe Weird Things and God The Failed Hypothesis.  The former had an interesting argument about people being not only suggestible, but also that we can be in an altered state of consciousness if we're overtired or under extreme stress.  After reading a section on how certain herbs can cause altered states, I'm also going to see if any vitamin or mineral deficiencies can cause them, too.

Again, thanks!  You've been so helpful with getting me to comprehend the situation better so I can figure out how to get out of it :)

I don't think you will be that gullible again, because you are already conscious of the fact that you don't want to be gullible.

 

 

Thanks!
So I remember talking to someone about how I'd stepped away from paganism and the spiritual stuff, all I had seen and whatnot. I said, at the end of the day, deja vu and seeing - hearing things.... didn't really affect real life. Yeah, I've had visions, some spooky, some scary, some awesome and amazing. But, again, at the end of the day, it's all in your head and does not impact the world you live in.

So if you have a vision just enjoy it as your body chemistry in a funk. If you're creative, use it in a story or in a work of art. That's pretty much all it's useful for...
Agree.  For me, the realization that these visions and experiences was all in my head was equally awesome - I mean, really, what an incredible thing the mind is!

What kind of visions?

 

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