The ill person’s correct evaluation of his own failings and mistakes is very
important on the path to psychological self-help. We often try to justify
ourselves and seek reasons in other people or external circumstances. The
wisdom of the holy fathers teaches us never to justify ourselves, because
humans by nature are selfish, and will always find a way to distort an alibi in
their favor for the true state of affairs (for instance, maybe I did get angry
and was rude, but I am also a live being, while he should have… and so on,
gradually becoming more and more convinced in the guilt of the other and
Instead of self-justification, it is better to blame oneself, to try
to determine the reasons for the fall, which is usually hidden in selfishness,
conceit, and especially pride. "Where there is a downfall, there pride is
established first of all; for pride is the precursor of downfall" (Ven.
Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain).
One of the active psychological methods is rationalization. First of all,
one must calm down, pray; then take a clean sheet of paper, a pen, and
attentively, soberly analyze the evolved conflicting situation, write out the
main reasons for strife and possible ways of resolving the conflict, weigh the
"pros" and "cons," look at the needs and fears of all the
participants of the resulting misunderstanding, find true arguments in favor of
composure, self-control, humility.
In conjunction with this, one can observe several formerly unnoticed
situations, essential psychological nuances. The resulting stage of
rationalization must be a specific decision, because the longer there is an
undetermined, double relationship to the conflict, the harder it is to resolve,
and therefore, to restore spiritual balance. The enemy of our salvation is
always trying to take away our spiritual peace, to confuse, to bring to
melancholy. We will not give in to his suggestions.
Foresight. Notwithstanding the variety of life’s circumstances, many of them
are repeated often and are in some sense a "cliché." By experience it
is known, that we are capable of "tripping," losing spiritual peace
or giving into temptation in the same circumstances time and again. Therefore,
we must prepare ahead of time for difficulties… We cannot foresee everything,
of course, but we can prepare for many and try to deter them. Preparation must
consist not only of thought, but also of prayer, talks with a spiritual guide,
his counsel and blessing.
St. Theophan suggests: "In the morning, after prayer, sit and figure
out what you must do during the day, where you will be, with what and whom you
will meet, and, when applicable, determine ahead of time what to think, where,
what to say, how to keep your spirit and body and so on. This means, that the
true Christian must "control himself," keep control over the actions
of his soul, and not permit them to crawl wherever they want. He must be the
ruler of his internal condition."
Substitution — is a simple and effective method. Who doesn’t know how
pleasant it is to listen to church singing, to read spiritually-enlightening
literature, to walk along a forest path, to listen to birds singing, to admire
the flowers in the meadow… One person enjoys working on his cabin, another —
meeting friends and an evening spent in sincere and soul-warming society and so
on. There are many similar recommendations; every person can add to this list
with attention to oneself. The ability to rest with benefit for the soul is
wisdom, which is worth attaining.
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