Is there any man or woman alive who is not looking to be affirmed for who they are as God created them to be in their own uniqueness and unrepeatability?
We all ache for the affirmation that we are “unique and unrepeatable, someone chosen by eternal Love” (TOB 15:4). This “ache” is an existential reality common to every single human person. We are all made with the need to be affirmed, and when this need goes unmet, many kinds of emotional and psychological disorders follow.
There is also a sense of “being taken care of” that goes along with this affirmation. We need to be affirmed at our deepest core of identity – to know that we are good – but also that the Father who created us takes care of us. When we see a child abandoned by a father, we know implicitly what a shame it is that the father doesn’t know the goodness and value of his kid. Presence and attention communicate affirmation.
When we don’t have a deep, implicit, and emotional sense that someone is with us, taking care of us, we end up spinning our mental wheels in rumination. This leads easily to moments, hours, or even days of anxiety or depression. When we don’t grow up with parents who perfectly take care of every single need we ever have (which is true for every one of us but Jesus), we don’t learn what it feels like to let go and let God be in control.
We therefore walk around with the sense that we need to be in control. We develop deep habits of worry, rumination, anxiety, self-doubt and self-criticism – all ways to try to stay ahead of the threats that can come our way. We spend hours in our heads, imagining all the bad things that can happen or replaying the bad things that have happened. What we don’t realize is that we are severely over burdening the self-protection system that God built into our bodies.
Our faith tells us that we can trust God to take care of everything, but our feelings deceive us. We need to learn how to connect the dots between our faith and our emotional lives, so that we can actually feel the peace that Jesus calls us to when he says, “Do not be anxious about the things of your life.” (Mt6:25).
I wrote The Mindful Catholic to teach people how to connect these dots. So many good, faithful Catholics are walking around with deep anxiety and depression because they don’t know how to put their faith into practice. Not just in works of mercy to the poor, but in works of mercy towards ourselves! We can get control of the way our minds work because we can learn the truth about who we are. The Mindful Catholic teaches us how to do that.
We are affirmed. We are taken care of. We just have to learn how to know and feel that truth within us.
Check out Dr. Bottaro’s new book The Mindful Catholic on Amazon.
The Mindful Catholic is a beautiful expression of how to live in the intimacy of a relationship with the Father who loves us. I’ve known and trusted Greg Bottaro for many years — first as a student of mine and, now, as a teacher from whom I’m learning. This wonderful integration of timeless truth with modern psychology can help us all live more peacefully in the trust that God calls us to.
— CHRISTOPHER WEST
Author of Theology of the Body for Beginners
Dr. Greg Bottaro is the Director of the Catholicpsych Institute (www.catholicpsych.com) and author of The Mindful Catholic as well as the course Introduction to Catholic Mindfulness (www.catholicmindfulness.com).