Stoicism and Mental Struggles hi

I’ve posted here previously on struggling with mental illness. I’ve got a lot of resentment about the Church not always being a very understanding place.

I feel it exacerbates insecurities and feelings of unfairness as well as judgemental attitudes. So, I’ve been focusing on Stoicism since I have rage issues. Anyway, I hadn’t realized before that a lot of the practices of Stoics resemble those of Christianity. For example, daily reflection of your behavior to analyze if it aligns with your moral principles. I feel it’s a much healthier perspective and much less confusing. Christianity leads my emotions to a much more intense place because of having to decipher all the should and shouldn’ts and there being only one way to do everything to the ninth degree. It’s overwhelming to me. Stoicism trusts you to figure it out with guidance but not smothering dogmas that leave no room to learn and grow naturally based on your own experiences. I’m not a very sentimental person, so a personal “Daddy” and “Mommy” God who is displeased with me seems uncomfortable and unhelpful.

I think Stoicism will really do wonders for me. It’s much less emotionally exhausting.

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No Christian on Earth Sees God like that. I’m not sure where your view of Christianity came from. I think of God as my Father, but my daddy would be my Earthly father, God Rest his soul. You are correct, stoicism does have some things in common with Christianity. But it’s incomplete. A person I would like to refer you to, is a former atheist by the name of Leah Libreasco Sargeant, if I recall correctly, she was heavily into stoicism. I certainly hope I’m not in my names mixed up.

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I generally just lurk on these forums (trying to cut it out as I feel quite inadequate as a Catholic compared to most people on here!) but your post resonated with me. Before my conversion I was deeply immersed in the stoic way of life. I have read several books from the big hitters like Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca to name a few.

Before I ramble on, the short of it is, stoicism misses a key and integral part of being human; that is our emotions and feelings, our desires and longings, our spirit! It is too cold a philosophy to live your life by.

Stoicism is indeed a very well reasoned and logical philosophy or way of life; one with which one can draw sharp boundaries in ones life, i.e. take the maxim of stoicism “it’s beyond my control, it’s nothing to me”. The problem is, we are not automatons or robots, one simply cannot function this way, well not for long anyway.

I have to liken stoicism to communism; both on paper make a lot of sense but in practice are very brutal to human nature (although I feel the comparison may be too harsh on stoicism, but it illustrates the point I am trying to make).

Consider the example - your wife dies; now the stoic says - death is as natural as birth, and only children are upset at the processes of nature; like getting wet in the rain. So do not mourn the death of your wife. The stoic would liken the death of your loved one to getting wet in the rain. There is no give, it’s either all or nothing. As I said, it’s very brutal. I for one couldn’t bear it.

Anyway those are my ramblings, hope they help.


This is not the way Catholics, or Christians in general, are supposed to view God.
I’m sorry for your mental health struggles, but with all due respect, I think your troubles with Christianity come from your own perception of it, not the way it actually is.

I know I don’t go around every day fretting about being judged or having “Daddy God” mad at me. I see Catholicism as trusting me to “figure out” most things, with guidance, not as telling me what to do every minute. I also don’t find the actual Church dogmas to be “smothering” because for the most part, dogma explains the great love of Jesus for us, it does not preach rules to us.

A lot of people who post on this forum seem to think of Catholicism as a bunch of rules and I can only assume that’s because they had a bad experience of it in the past or it wasn’t presented to them in the proper light when they learned it. When one develops a personal relationship with God, the rule book ocncept quickly fades away.


You don’t have to answer this in a post, but I’m curious as to what your relationship with your parents is like. Maybe it’s contributing to your mental struggles? And to your inaccurate interpretation of Christianity?

If you haven’t experienced unconditional love from your parents, it might be hard to know/understand God’s unconditional love.

Also, do you have a therapist?

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I’m thinking my general statements, which we more sarcastic than deep theological arguments against Christianity, created ALOT of assumptions. I very well know the deeper theology of Catholicism and Christianity.

I’m a very emotionally sensitive person by nature, so I know what I feel is not always “how it is”. However, Biblically speaking, God has many different ways of behaving which are immature and all too weakly human. Do I think God is really like that? No. I think people give the Biblical God way too much leeway, which none of us would receive for that kind of justice. Anyway, that’s another tangent.

One example of the Church screwing with my head is it’s constant push of what attitudes you “should” have about something vs. “reality”. For instance, motherhood and marriage. I know that these things are great and valuable to society. I know their theological purpose. The truth is some people should’ve never gotten in those vocations.

My experience with motherhood has been a disaster due to
my mental illness. While, I recognize the need for improvement, hearing everything the church teaches and what attitudes I should have, fueled my self-hatred. If I read appropriate books, it made things worse. Sure, the problem may be me? I’m ok with that. But, also for someone like me, maybe Christianity just isn’t helpful. Maybe suffering isn’t the special glory my soul requires to be holy? Maybe suffering is my whole existence and I dont find the hurt I’ve caused very valuable.

I love hearing supposed to. You know very well that part of children’s Cathecisis is to drill into their heads that God is like your special buddy and you are in the “palm” of his hand. Yes, their is a huge focus on the sentimental, heavenly Daddy. There is also the theological, supreme being. And, yes, plenty of adults still attach themselves to God this sentimental way. Do you seriously think Christianity doesn’t encourage that?

You’re also broad in your assumptions. No one sees God like that. Christian kids are taught this. The Shepard images, you’re in the palm of his hand, your heavenly Daddy, etc And, yes, some adults still have this kind of attachment. There are plenty of deeply sentimental Christiand out there who “choose” this version to focus on.

I appreciate the recommendation of the atheist to research.

Now you’re talking about “sentimental, heavenly Daddy”. That’s different from a “God who is displeased with you” which is what you seemed to be complaining about in your first post.

I have no problem with the Christian concept of God as a loving father. I had a loving father when I grew up, so it’s easy for me to see God in that context. I don’t often see him as “displeased” with me, I do see him as disappointed in me when I fail to live up to what I should be. Most children of loving fathers don’t want to disappoint their father or make him unhappy.

As the other poster said, people who didn’t have loving parental figures when they grew up often can’t related to the “loving father” idea of God. I empathize with them, though their experience is not mine.

Whether the “loving father” concept of God is overly “sentimental” depends on the individual’s perception, I guess. The story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible is pretty sentimental, but it’s Scripture. There are other references to fathers and children in Scripture that could be seen as sentimental. Most loving relationships are sentimental to a degree. It’s normal.

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Well, the one book I’ve been reading does not ignore your attachment to people in the way you describe(like a robot). It tells you to value them everyday, but accept their death. This book didn’t make sadness or thought of your dead loved ones as bad or needing to be gotten rid of it. I read it as accepting what is and dont be too torn up about it. Most stoics don’t believe in heaven, so what desire should they have about a dead person? I mean, because you don’t dwell on death, you’re not human enough? What’s cold about accepting things the way they are and not the way you feel they are? I mean that’s my huge struggle. What I feel is often a lie. My emotions create problems with how I treat others. Yes, emotions and desire are natural, but even Christianity says they aren’t always good. Self-mastery of emotions is found in both. However, the Stoics don’t get all mucked up in the confusion of what others tell you to think and feel. Christianity very much tells you how to feel about everything, It is this heavily, guilt ridden way, IMOP.

By Bishop Barron, This is recent and helpful.
God bless

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Well, both views of God come with it’s own set of problems. That’s simply my opinion. I think God being displeased with anyone is a human, Daddy concept.

Yes, I’m in therapy. Of course I didn’t have what was needed growing up from my parents.
My point will always be I found so much help outside of Christianity and very little within it. It’s all well and good in some ways. It’s just not as great as adversitzed. If you have to have an ideal childhood for Catholicism/Christianity to be a right fit, then I’m ok with finding answers elsewhere.

Yeah, it is normal. Not seeing things the way Catholics do, is also normal. I dont know bearself, but people who did not grow up in the ideal have a rough time not hating themselves trying to be the ideal Christian. Christianity has lots of great ideas, but it’s gets muddled up in alot of judgemental nonsense. I can respect people who find it helpful and necessary. I’m glad for them. But, it worsens my negativity.

Christianity’s flaw is that you have to please someone. We should do good things because in reality they make the world a better place, not to please someone.

Catholicism is for one aspect of our lives, the spiritual. If I had a broken leg, I would not complain that the Church has no help for me :wink: In the same way, mental illness is not within the realm of the Church per se.

The idea with Catholicism is to have a good relationship with God, to let Him into your heart. Each person has his or her own relationship with God, so each sees God a little differently. You do not have to see Him as a “daddy,” and the way you see Him now will probably be different than the way you see Him in a year or two.

Well, just because some adults continue as if they were children doesn’t make it correct, does it? :slight_smile:

I think a problem we have when we think of God is that God is so much more than we can encompass with our language. Similarly, He is much wider than we can imagine; He is different things to different people at different points in their lives.

There are times when a person might need God as the One Who holds her in His hand, and there are times when the same person might need to see God as the One Who lets go so she can learn to walk.

As to your attraction to Stoicism, I can relate to the description given by @hopeful_sinner. Emotions are messy, unpredictable things which all too often seem to lead us astray. And that is aside from making us feel bad so much of the time!

I do not have the impression that Catholicism says we should feel this way or that about things. I know there are some parishes where I feel like they are trying to get me to feel one way or another (I find this very annoying!). Somethinf I appreciate about reverent Masses is that they don’t seem designed to require a particular emotion.

We (as a society) are recovering from a period of time in which it was thought we were automatons reacting to our experiences (not to say that we are not, but that they went too far down that road) followed by a period in which our emotions were overly honored and not at all in our control. If we were angry, we would heat up until we blew, like a volcano. I think all this has led to great difficulties for individuals.

Well, I have probably written a lot of unhelpful stuff again, but good to see you persevering in grappling with these issues!

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Well, a large part of making the world a better place is bringing joy to others, so…

Or maybe you mean something different when you say “please someone”?

If pleasing God or attaining a heavenly reward is the reason to be good, then you aren’t really doing it to simply make the world better place. If you’re sitting their thinking it’s your job to get others to heaven, that can lead you to try to control them or their outcomes instead of just being kind and respectful. If there is a will or an agenda it can muddle things for me. It’s just my perspective.

Stoicism heavily influenced Christianity. Just read St. Paul’s Epistles, he often uses Stoic terminology.

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