We’re in the Church for many years and are aware of our sinfulness and fallen nature – what to do, how to form healthy self-esteem, it is helpful to consider himself the worst of all and the help of Scripture – about it our conversation with the Archpriest Konstantin Parkhomenko, the editor of “the Alphabet of faith”, and his wife, psychologist Elizabeth Parkhomenko.
- Psychological manipulation in the Church how to recognize and what to do
- What we believe is sin, sometimes has a medical cause
- If you have not had a spiritual crisis, that’s bad news
- When the psychologist does NOT have to go
- How to feel joy in the Christian life
In the Church man finds a whole new direction: he’s a sinner, a slave and a worm
– Starting a conversation, I would like first to hear from a psychologist what a “healthy self esteem”?
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: I think the opinion of the psychologist will not be much different from the views of the pastor. In a nutshell, self esteem is how I perceive myself. However, it is impossible to relate in some way to his isolation from other people and from around the world. How I treat myself is how I treat the near and far people as I assess them and how to build relationships with them. Therefore, to speak separately on self-assessment as such is not entirely correct.
Itself can be perceived, including in the relationship with God is extremely important for the believer. The more that God is with us a parental figure. And this is directly related to self-esteem, perception of self in the world. This is an important part of us, which is laid in childhood. And how people themselves perceived and formed in relationship with your parents will greatly affect how he sees himself in relationship with God and that in the future will choose in religion – conscious flight from the world or the creation of something good in reality.
When people come to the consultation, this becomes especially obvious: a person like eyes closed for one part of faith, and another that responds to it, we can say that in connection with his self esteem, he is willing to accept.
I don’t like when people talk about high or low self-esteem. In order to be healthy and adequate, it is important to feel valuable. This is a deeply Christian thought – the person is valuable in itself.
However, very few can say: “I’m good just because I am. I live and rejoice, because for this were created by God.” Like feel only one.
In order to enable one to say that, in his childhood should be the figure of an adult, who appreciates, and adopts a whole baby. In fact is the key to further normal relations with the world and with himself. But, unfortunately, this perception itself is rare in our generation, those who are now 35 to 45. We grew up often with a great sense of guilt and shame, is what control us, and involuntarily, because our parents also had not the best experience.
Usually people in the consultations said, “I like that, and doing it all wrong, I should be other to please their parents”. Person with it lives, grows, and is so deep and painful in him, rooted that he thinks deserves punishment. He comes to the Church and then finds himself the whole direction, lots of prayers that you bad, a slave, a worm, the Lord will punish you.
At a certain stage, it is useful and necessary, but over time, when spiritual growth takes place, the person gradually begins to move from being a slave to other States, mercenaries, and eventually the son. And many in this state are stuck, and then makes others suffer, for if I bad, you, and all around, too bad. It is a pattern. Low self esteem is always linked with the devaluation of other people, even if outwardly declared the opposite.
Well, I understand that we are sinners, fallen – what next
– Father Constantine, and what are the Parallels with self-esteem can result from a religious experience?
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: it should be noted that we in the Orthodox Church is very strongly developed direction monastic spirituality implies awareness of himself as a man unworthy and sinful. But this is only one side of the coin. The right dialectic outlined in the ODA Derzhavina “bog”: “I am the king – I slave – I worm – I God!” This means that a person has low or high. As our Liturgy and prayers were created by the monks, that this negative side of “I’m a slave – I worm” prevails. And the person who comes to Church with their complexes and low self-esteem, gets plenty.
The problem is that we have a spirituality of the laity, the laymen is practically not developed. Like for example, we do not have a coherent doctrine of Christian marriage – well, what can at this point to even say the Holy fathers, the monks, ascetics, ascetics who do not really raise children? – just not a very developed system of social relations of man to the world and to ourselves. That this negative aspect of many – “I’m bad” and positive – “what I ought to be, to be a good thing to do”, is not enough. We can learn in the gospel, in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul in early Christian literature, but not in the monastic, which in most cases is, to repeat, has shaped our spirituality.
And when young people come to Church first, it attracts them, and then they say to me: “Father Constantine, well, I realized that he is sinful, fallen, poor, and so on. Well, then what? What’s your solution? Where texts, where prayers, which is something positive to be approved, what will happen to motivate me to another life?”
I say: “Read the Scriptures it’s all there”. Because the Scriptures were formed before all this monastic spirituality to a negative aspect. So, really, people can be stuck in this state, aware of himself as a “trembling creature”, and self-esteem he will always be low.
– Does this mean that self-esteem monastics and lay people should be different?
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: the ideal should be so: man comes a monk from the negative, and then reaches an entirely different level of spirituality. Why monks leave the world? Not because they’re better, but because they consider themselves the worst in the world. They go, pray, repent of their sins, looking for a relationship with God and build a relationship with Him. After that, the monk returns to the world of the new stage and brings something positive.
Like, say, father paisios of the Holy mountain, who first thirty years was a hermit, and nobody about him knew nothing, then he came back and behaved most that neither is active – Ministers to the laity, thousands and thousands of people, built monasteries and so on.
The vocation of the monk and worldly man. A lay person especially needs to take a proactive stance.
I repeat: read the Holy Scriptures and the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. All of this is formed in a healthy, so to speak, the time when Christ comes to earth and sends His disciples that they world is changed, transformed. Nobody can say what the Apostle Paul did not possess an active lifestyle. He knew languages, was brilliantly educated.
I remember the episode in the Book of Acts, the Sadducees once argued with him, and then a Roman officer came to arrest the Apostle Paul and he spoke to him in such pristine, proper nice Greek language that the officer in amazement exclaimed: “You speak Greek?!” That is, he thought it was some Jewish disassembly, and suddenly he sees the man is absolutely intelligent, open.
The Apostle Paul traveled, he had many missionary adventures, often sad, always interesting. And he was sober in your self-evaluation, it was not, as we say, understated. He said: “I have worked”. Because the Apostle Paul belonged to the ancient domenichelli tradition, where the main criterion was considered a reasonable attitude. Understated, but adequate.
When me people come and say: “Father, I do a lot of good, but in different texts all the time meet that I am a “fallen creature”, I’m … ‘ – how is it to be?” I usually answer: “It’s such step, that we understand their weakness, their dependence on God. Now let’s see what the Apostle Paul tells us: I have worked the most. So if you work – rejoice in their success!”
Read modern ascetics
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: I’d like to add here that. If you remember the early Holy fathers, they say that man is an animal, which is intended to become a God. It’s a high bar, but it very clearly. Because people can move in one direction or the other. But of course, nobody says that he is God with a capital letter.
And if you look at ancient religions, the people there – or embodied deity (think of the emperors), or the difference between that and this world is so huge that its never under any circumstances to overcome. That is, in fact, they can be called religions inadequate self-esteem. But Christianity brings something completely new. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” – this is a direct reference to value yourself as a person.
Christianity came, plunged into the old world and began its work with what we have, with people who lived in those harsh conditions. You need to understand that the whole monastic tradition is still tradition and the culture of the time. Even in the middle ages, people were different, and the Christianity they gradually changed. So now when we say certain prayers, we don’t really like not so responsive – so it just is the result of the work done including monasticism.
After this long journey, we can again go back to basics. The same applies, for example, the practice of frequent Communion. John of Kronstadt began, and by some bishops, probably most actively began to return this relationship to the Eucharist which the early Christians. We’re talking about the same thing.
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: the fact that in the middle ages it was this monastic orientation to understand himself poor, was very important. Because people do often bore the brunt of savage way. People and now, honestly, does not always correspond to the high level, God’s design for them. But, nevertheless, it seems to me that people today became somehow more decent and moral. More ethical than they were a thousand years ago.
I am deeply convinced that now, in the twenty-first century, we need to “rediscover” Christianity.
Because the format in which it is a hundred years ago, was working, today it has stalled – does not satisfy the active and purposeful people who want to go as soldiers of Christ into the world to carry on something positive. We have the patristic writings which would motivate people to act, to do so. What can we advise?
Contemporary ascetics, starting with father John of Kronstadt, the whole host of martyrs, who were proactive, we have already mentioned, venerable Paisius of the Holy mountain. When I get a people asking where to start my Christian life, I want to read Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh – that he has positive dimension. And don’t suggest to start with the Holy fathers.
– Perhaps this situation is due to the fact that the prayers of the people passed on their penitential experience, and that was, as you say, the positive remained “behind the scenes”?
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: Well, here I am an active person. Say it adequately, without bragging, to the glory of God, that the Lord has made me such, and parents have worked. But when I read the penitential prayers – they do not satisfy me. That is, I feel that for me personally is false. This is the constant comparison of themselves with dust and ashes, “for swine in feces lie” – for me it is biased, I don’t consider myself a pig, lying in feces. Where’s the motivation? I had to draw in the Scriptures.
Of course, when I came to faith, we can say with high self-esteem, brash, opinionated such Komsomolets, for me all these penitential motives were very important, they sobered me. It was like a bucket of cold water. But then going on some sort of work, that grow, move on, we just can’t spin all the time on one level.
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: I also remember that at some time I personally made the transition to their favorite prayer, in General very ancient, as the Akathists to the Mother of God and Jesus Sweetest that have a positive component. You can still cite the example of the prayer of the Optina elders.
And it absolutely does not mean that I consider myself some internally very good. When recovering more or less Mature, sober attitude to themselves and the world around you, you begin to understand that everything as it is, you grow.
Secular people often have inflated self-esteem, and Church – low
– If you look at our contemporaries, we can conclude that many people have problems with self esteem. And if everything is laid in childhood, in the family, it becomes clearer why it is not all parents are how to raise children, and how many of us incomplete, broken families…
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: In my opinion, it’s not a bad time. Our generation, as I see it, is much better related to their children. But our parents and their parents – there is, of course, it was really bad. And it’s not their fault, it is simply the result of historical events. That is the war and the reign of the Soviet government could not give its results. The more trauma, the more it affects children.
If the blockade of the kids with unhappy faces I saw these photos – roamed the streets under fire and did not know what will happen tomorrow with them and their parents, of course, difficult to talk about some normal self-esteem. Imagine what it’s like when parents say, sit here, otherwise you will eat a neighbor? They had to really scare kids to keep them alive. In principle, in such conditions it was not to help, just to survive.
– Do you think that now is more common high or low self-esteem? And what does it depend?
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: In fact it is one and the same. What is called “high self-esteem” is a compensation for low self-esteem. If the person shows that he is “cool” is a hundred percent some kind of compensatory thing, inside he feels absolutely not valuable and very scared.
We need to have a perception of themselves and the other as valuable. But to achieve this difficult. And in this sense can help the Church. Because if you grow personally, you this perception is gradually changing. Changing relationships with parents, with other people, changing the attitude to themselves and to God. But it happens that some deep internal damage remains until the end of life.
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: in General, my observation is that secular people often have inflated self-esteem, and the Church is underestimated. There is a certain segment grandmothers-old women, who, apparently, is so deeply damaged was her life, and revolve on one some ritual level, for them the Church is the ark in which they can hide and quietly, without exposing himself to sail. For them it is a microcosm with its microclimate in which they feel comfortable to live and so, fearing once again to stick his nose. All secular frightens them.
I’m in the Cathedral 18 years, and there are old ladies with whom I work, confess them, and preach them, but I see that it is not moving. How they felt bad, lonely, sad, and left. That is a very deep damage. As for people young and middle age who come to Church to find myself, these usually ripen before understanding what they are – great value in the sight of God.
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: I would add that if there is this search that person, injured in childhood is not a very good attitude, religion can help. Because if he didn’t have good host parents, at least stay in the Church, he discovers the God Who loves him and appreciates. This is the knowledge that you got the Higher a Parent, even on a purely psychological level, can not help to grow. And we believe that even the mystical element is – the grace of God that changes a person.
The best option is to become a Saint
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: it is Very important, indeed, to admit his weakness, his fallen, but by realizing this and working with it, to go to the next level and ask yourself: what can I do as a soldier of Christ, as a man in this world is called to cooperate actively with God.
We need to have been written in modern life.
Why we love so much, for example, father John of Kronstadt? Because he was very honest in his diaries. This is not some lurid character. This man with his throwing, looking, downs, temptations.
But who every day stood up, rejected it and moved on. It was a real person, the same as we who worked on him every day.
– In addition to the temple, are there any practical tips from the field of psychology for those who feel that his self-esteem is something wrong?
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: It is a deep and serious inner work. Such exercises to “do this – do that” and you will change, of course, does not exist. Otherwise everything would be too easy. This is to build relationships with friends, with relatives, with friends, with the world. As in the spiritual life is a long and difficult path.
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: Many do not want to work on myself. Sometimes it amazes me as a pastor. People come: in the family there is no peace, the couple quarrel, strangers to each other are full of misunderstandings. I say: come both of you, let’s get to work. No, you tell us, what prayer to read.
– If you see that someone close to you is suffering from low self-esteem, is it possible to help the person?
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: Only if you asked. In other cases it is better not to interfere. If, in your opinion, some of the family members suffers from low self-esteem, it is not necessary “urgently to save” and something in there to “tweak”.
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: Psychologists generally you don’t pull, they believe that only when you matured, and he asked for help, then something can be done. In the Orthodox Church all similar, but slightly different: we do not put into our faith, but we witness. The majestic temples of its kind, the bells, the preaching of priests – all this calls man to change his life. But to pay somebody violently we are not going to.
Elizabeth Parkhomenko Has deep patristic idea that “save yourself and around you will be saved thousands.” That is, we must focus on ourselves.
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: But it’s very hard. Although the best option is to become Holy, and the people around you, seeing your radiance, will be attracted and will want to emulate you.
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: I think, there is not even need lights, just people will see a normal, sober person that is slowly changing, which humorously refers to its oddities, and this example they will positively work.
– How you consider, whether it is possible to say that self – esteem is love of self?
The priest Konstantin Parkhomenko: I would say differently.
It is not love for yourself and acceptance of oneself. And look at yourself – adequate, honest. See for yourself without a Church so very difficult. Because the modern world tells man that the state in which he is, in fact, fallen is fine.
Accept it and move on.
So, there are psychologists who help their clients to get rid of the guilt of the spouses, if they have a lover or a mistress. The traitors say – it’s okay to accept yourself for who you are. The way to come to a healthy self-esteem is almost impossible. A Church when people perceive themselves through the prism of God’s plan about him through what he should be. And sees its absolute imperfection. And begins first to be cleansed from the old scales that’s these hard things – “thou worm manure”.
So good when there is sobering. It will enable you at least a little come to terms, that gives a more sober look. And then begins the process of gradual ascent.
Elizabeth Parkhomenko: In my opinion, to feel truly valuable, we can only in relationship with God. Christianity is certainly a religion of high values of the person. Often we come to Church without this understanding because of their personal life story. But the Church gives us the opportunity to grow up with a healthy attitude. Do not be afraid, that’s good, that’s right.
Interviewed Ksenia Vohmintseva