How to Heal From Religious Trauma

If you had a very strict religious upbringing, you might carry the burden of religious trauma as an adult. Perhaps you were forced to hide your true self for years or decades out of fear of being cast out of your community for living authentically. Maybe you were taught a set of unquestionable beliefs that harmed your mental health and negatively colored your view of the world. You might have felt isolated from secular communities and were taught to fear people who did not share your faith. You may have even suffered sexual, emotional, or physical abuse, with the explanation that it served some sort of greater good.

Religious trauma can come in many forms. Although the healing process can be long, you can overcome your religious past, figure out what you personally believe, and build a happier, healthier life for yourself. Here are a few things you can do to process and heal from religious trauma.

Embrace Healthy Routines and Hobbies

Being part of a religious community gives you a structured routine. You may have to attend services on certain days each week, engaged in prayer at specific times, or kept up with other rituals and regular events. When this disappears, it can feel like your foundation has been shaken. To bring a sense of structure back to your life, create healthy new routines for your morning and evening, and find a hobby that will keep you busy throughout the week.

Focus on Building New Relationships

Religion gives you a built-in community. You may have made lots of friends through your religious community over the years. Maybe your family members are all still part of the community. Now, you’re feeling lonely and isolated. In your lowest moments, you wonder if going back might be worth the pain just to fill this hole in your life.

That’s why it’s so important to prioritize forming new friendships. You may want to look for social meetup groups in your area. You could seek out groups for others who have left the same religion.

Deconstruct Your Beliefs

For many years, the beliefs laid out by your religious community formed your worldview. But when you realized how growing up in this system left you traumatized, you likely began to question the basic tenets of your faith. Now is the time to deconstruct your old beliefs piece by piece and start slowly forming a new set of healthy, supportive beliefs based on your experiences.

Set Boundaries

You may still be in contact with some people from your religious community. This could include family members, old friends, or even coworkers. You do not necessarily have to cut all of these ties completely. But you may need to set some boundaries. It isn’t always easy to communicate these boundaries, but you have every right to say, for example, that you won’t be attending certain events within your community anymore.

Talk to a Therapist

If you have lived through religious trauma, there’s a good chance that you didn’t just go through one traumatic incident. The trauma likely occurred over many years within a religious community. Processing these events and their effects on you means working through years of unfair treatment or even abuse. Doing this alone is practically impossible. Instead of trying to cope with your religious trauma all by yourself, consider working with a therapist specializing in this issue. You may even be able to find a therapist who shares your specific religious background.

Are you struggling to process religious trauma? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for trauma therapy or therapy for women.