Heather Silva- Religious Trauma Expert

I’ve been thinking about the harmful lessons religion taught me and the impact they’ve had on my life and the lives of my children. I spent 25 years in the box. A few of those have been lived in the outer box which I thought was in freedom but later learned it was just another box.

The one lesson I’ll share today is control.

First of all, where control is at play, fear is also on the scene. The fear is the obvious lesson but I was, in the past, controlled by the teaching that if I didn’t believe what they believed, I was going to hell or spending eternity separated from god. The teaching about hell and separation is also based on fear and control because it’s punishment.

If you don’t believe the way they do, you will be punished for eternity. And if that doesn’t work, you are taught that you are bad and in need of saving and fixing because you are somehow broken.

Apparently whoever is sharing this with you knows you really well, better than you do. Well, not really. The truth is that they are trying to manipulate you through controlling behavior to believe what they want you to believe. Keep in mind that they aren’t bad, just indoctrinated.

Most of the time, when people are approached by these “believers,” they are in a vulnerable place. Otherwise, the answer would be a firm no.

Once you join them, it then becomes one of your jobs to become like them. You are responsible for all the people and it is your job to get them “saved.” If they (friends, family, coworkers) don’t believe what you now believe, they are bad, broken, deceived, ugh, the list goes on.

If they don’t believe, then beware, they might have a negative influence on you and could lead you astray. Yikes, more control tactics.

So, I could give more examples or go deeper into how religion not only controls those who are in it, but also, teaches them that controlling others is love and necessary.

So, how does this show up in life once you’ve left?

Well, there isn’t any one answer. It shows up in our ability to have healthy relationships. That can be friendships, romantic partners, work relationships, and every other type of relationship. Codependency is huge. Everyone has to believe the same thing or they are wrong, bad, broken, to be feared, judged, and more. So if everyone has to believe the same thing and you choose not to, then bad things will happen. Rejection, abandonment, and punishment by god and people that you love and care about.

Another way it shows up is in our ability to make decisions on our own and feel good about them. We have been indoctrinated to believe that we are bad and therefore, make bad choices. We need to go outside ourselves to get advice and approval. So what happens? We stay stuck, we get bad advice, and we become overwhelmed and stressed out about making even small decisions.

Spirituality is intimate and very personal, it’s sacred. It isn’t anybody’s business! But that isn’t what we have been taught. We have been taught to judge everything and everyone and that creates hypervigilance. It teaches that once the judgment is made or information collected, we must control it and make it submit to our belief system or reject and abandon.

The good news is that we can leave religion, we can clear out the trauma, we can embrace healthy for us beliefs and enjoy safe and loving relationships. If you would like help in this area, I invite you to schedule a conversation with me to see how I can help you.

Love and Light,

Heather Silva

Love and Light,

Heather Silva