Articles & Testimonies

Virginia Harris, C.S.B. – What voices are you listening to?

by | Mar 4, 2013



“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen



Virginia Harris, C.S.B. – What voices are you listening to? 


What voices are you listening to?

Posted: 01 Mar 2013 02:00 PM PST


The other day someone came into my office who described an overwhelming feeling of being criticized, marginalized and victimized, mentally reviewing and reliving the hurt over and over. She had become so preoccupied and consumed by what happened in the past that she felt stuck and unable to go forward.

What I could see with my friend was that this mental process had pulled her negatively into doubt and insecurity that had effectively isolated her. She was so busy reliving the past that she felt drained and hobbled in the present, unable to find a way out of her problem.

This is ‘rumination,’ the deliberate fretting, brooding, and fixating on problems, and it has zero benefits to wellbeing. In fact, it is an enemy of mental health.

In a recent tribute article about the late Dr. Susan Noeln-Hoeksema, a well-respected psychologist of women, the New York Times highlighted the doctor’s landmark study on how rumination – dwelling on sources of problems rather than possible solutions – accounted for a significant cause of depression in women. Later studies by the doctor linked rumination to other behavior problems such as anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse.

As I thought and prayed about this, it occurred to me that rumination is a form of self-hypnosis, a constant repetition in thought of negative opinions and immobilizing hurts that can’t possibly offer solutions or benefits. What then could be the purpose? It can’t be ‘feeling better’ through self-justification or self-satisfaction because the effect of rumination is exactly the opposite: one feels like a victim.

If this is a trap you find yourself struggling with and desire to be free from, there is a way through prayer to stop the negative cycling, let in the light of good expectation, and find relief. It may seem at first difficult to turn away from a fixation so riveting and captivating, but I have found that persistent and insistent prayer eventually breaks the hold…prayer that acknowledges the superpower of your inherent spiritual consciousness and your inseparability from divine Mind.

When you begin to consider how your own spiritual consciousness is an individualized reflection of the universal Mind, which means it includes only the completely good and productive thoughts or ideas of divine Mind, and that your spiritual consciousness has a healing effect on those ruminating thoughts – well, those thoughts should begin to appear small, weak, inconsequential, meaningless. Rumination will lose its grip and you can break free.

In the book of John in the New Testament of the Bible it states “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” When you look at this statement as divine Mind reflecting its creation (you!) then it can be read as “All things were thought by Him; and without Him was not anything thought that was thought.”

Your basis, then, for being free from rumination and its victimizing effects is divine, with all the power and light and intelligence that bestows.

So then whenever you may feel tempted by the mental pull to repeat hurts, fears or discouragement, you can quietly pause and ask yourself, “What am I listening to: Is this the voice of my imagination or the voice of my spiritual consciousness?” Only good, intelligent, healthy and uplifting thoughts are your spiritual consciousness – the inseparable, reflected thought of the all-powerful divine Mind.

Listen only to this voice and all will be well.