Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

We all like consistency between our thoughts and our actions. It is as though we have a map to a goal and we are following it. When we lose that consistency, we feel lost, distressed, and uncomfortable on account of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, a condition that becomes worse in proportion to the meaning and importance of those thoughts and actions. This state of discomfort is actually a gift that under the most important of circumstances the Fathers would refer to as pangs of conscience. Those with a refined conscience for whom living in accord with God’s will is highly … [Read more...]

Relationships and Forgiveness

Perhaps our own experience provides us with evidence concerning the next antecedent to forgiveness: the nature of our relationship with another person. Our relationship with the one who has offended us usually does influence our willingness to forgive the offense and the offender. When we are involved in a committed relationship with another person, the sting of the offense may be more pronounced, but often our willingness to forgive is determined by the quality and history of the relationship that enable us to forgive more readily. Riek and Mania concluded similarly in writing, “Commitment … [Read more...]

A New Blog Series on Forgiveness: Some Preliminary Definitions

In a fallen world, no one escapes the bumps and bruises associated with our interactions with others. Sometimes, the cuts and scrapes form gaping holes that may leave us offended and wounded, hurt by angry words, callous actions, or selfish disregard. While we can confidently affirm that conflict is an inevitable, if not unfortunate part of human life, the aftermath of such often comes down to a choice between resentment and forgiveness. This new blog series will focus attention on the latter. Forgiveness, or the lack thereof in ourselves or in others, is a subject that affects each of us, … [Read more...]

Accepting the Paradox of Trying to Fall Sleep in order to Go to Sleep

From an early age, we are taught that we will be judged by our successes and failures. We are encouraged to study hard, make good friends, be polite, and take care of our health. All of these counsels are designed with one goal in mind: our success in life. When we fail, it is quite often assumed that failure occurred because we didn’t try hard enough or study diligently enough. We are made to believe that there is a one-to-one causal relationship between our effort and our success. However, we soon find out that life is much more complicated than that. Sometimes, there are paradoxical factors … [Read more...]

Insomnia and Talking to Oneself

Whenever we encounter difficulties in life or whenever some unexpected suffering comes our way, our natural instinct is to find an immediate escape from that difficulty or suffering. When such an escape is not readily available or manifest to us, we may become despondent or begin to think the worst, which in psychological terms is known as catastrophizing. We can tell we’re doing this by the nature of our interior dialogue that we have with ourselves. That private conversation can aggravate an existent problem and generate new ones. In his dissertation, “Treating Insomnia-A Cognitive … [Read more...]

Identifying and Resolving Dysfunctional Cognitions

The maxim “our thoughts determine our lives” is central to our self-understanding as well as our ability to understand the choices we make each day. Thoughts are the interpretive tool through which we understand ourselves, others, and the circumstances of daily life. When these thoughts are good and wholesome, we are able to make critical decisions in the workplace, assist family members, and order our life according to the values by which we have consciously chosen to live. However, when these cognitions are harmful, our perceptions of self, others, and our environment become distorted which … [Read more...]

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

In the area of human sciences, laws of genetics and laws of behavioral interactions as well as rich descriptions of the processes that lead to sickness and to health are accepted by all as incontrovertible givens. Humanity conforms and acquiesces with nary a murmur or complaint. And yet with respect to moral values, the spiritual life, and liturgical practices, people feel that it is permissible, perhaps even desirable, to adjust and even discard the givens of faith, the givens of revelation, and even the givens of sin and holiness. It is as though the claims of science have such a hold on us … [Read more...]

The Value of Discipline: Some Behavioral Suggestions for Insomnia

The behavioral treatment options available to those suffering from insomnia are quite practical and stunningly simple. Yet, very often many of life’s solutions are practical and simple. We need to do something(s) different. What complicates matters for us are our own predilections, preferences, and idiosyncracies. We have a divided will that makes it difficult to choose certain courses of action that may restrict us, but can perhaps resolve an even more troubling situation. The notion of cutting off the will for the sake of an ultimate goal, familiar in the monastic milieu, has its place in … [Read more...]

Type A Behavior and Self-Criticizing Thoughts: Problem and Potential

Self-critical thoughts comprise a two-edged sword that can either lead to self-correction for the sake of a healthier lifestyle or to a deep, morose despondency that envelops the person and all those surrounding with a stagnant gloom. Those thoughts can be a positive force for those striving for perfection, but a negative influence on those who accept them as proof of incompetence, unworthiness, and unloveability. In the case of those with a Type A behavioral style, we encounter a third amalgam that combines both the positive force and the negative influence together. For Type A go-getters, … [Read more...]

From Type A Beliefs to Christian Convictions: Inner Changes that Lead to Peace

People don’t simply decide to become Type A. It arises quite naturally from their efforts to make sense of their own world during the process of maturation on the basis of their experiences with others, their observations about life, and their sense of their own strengths and weaknesses. Having reached some conclusions about how the world operates and how they need to act to get ahead, they press forward on the basis of these conclusions that they may never have put into words, but that are always present, guiding them with a less than gentle hand. These conclusions that orient the Type A … [Read more...]