Losing and Regaining Your Faith in Life

By Paul Dunion | June 10, 2014

Nothing sets us up for psychological and spiritual malaise more than our loss of faith in life. When we turn against life, we naturally lean in the direction of death, which inevitably harms us, as we can lose vitality and a reverence for life. The damage can be temporary and repairable, or last a lifetime.

How Do We Lose Our Faith in Life?

It is often some experience of loss that shatters our faith in life. We may have lost a loved one, a job, a friendship, lost our health, failed at some desired goal or lost our direction and purpose. When we lose faith in life, we no longer trust life. We don’t believe that life will be kind to us. Once we deem our losses unbearable, unjust and unacceptable, we run the risk of fracturing our rapport with life. “But it doesn’t make much difference whether it is faith in a person or God, which is shattered. It is always faith in life, in the possibility of trusting it, of having confidence in it, which is broken.” — Erich Fromm

What Happens When We Lose Our Faith In Life?

The natural consequence of losing our faith in life is love of death. This affiliation with death has several features:

• A contraction of our beliefs, vision and attitudes occurs. Rigidity accompanies the contraction moving us into right-wrong thinking and into being prone to cynicism and bitterness.

• A fractured rapport with love happens. The possibility of loving and being loved fades, with love losing the power to influence our choices. The helplessness and hopelessness accompanying a significant loss leave us with a kind of amnesia regarding living with heart.

• A predatory propensity unfolds whereby we become more capable of acting violently toward others and/or ourselves. When violence is directed toward ourselves, it manifest as self-loathing.

• Apathy or indifference settles in, diminishing our motivation to learn. Learning is experienced as a waste of time and energy.

How Do We Regain Our Faith in Life?

There are several approaches to regaining our faith in life:

• Rather than take a victim’s position by describing all the awful things life does and is, simply tell the story of your loss of faith. When we tell the narrative of our loss of faith to people we trust, we are witnessed as the active agent, the person who lost faith rather than the person who was done in by life.

• As we tell the story of our loss of faith, we focus on the particulars of the loss that dropped us into a crisis of faith.

• Begin to actively grieve the loss that jolted our faith in life, especially our sadness and anger.

• Begin to slowly learn about ourselves and about life from the loss rather than simply protest the loss.

What Happens When We Regain Our Faith In Life?

Biophilia, or love of life, is the most prominent consequence of renewed faith. There are several distinct characteristics of biophilia:

• There is an expansion of beliefs, vision and attitude. There is inclusivity to our experience, marked by more tolerance, consideration and acceptance.

• We feel blessed by life, not cursed. We feel greater gratitude and have a larger propensity for generosity.

• We strive to love and be loved. Living more heartfully is prioritized as a worthy life pursuit.

• We experience ourselves as peacemakers, eager to bring compassion to others and ourselves.

• We become more curious, wondering what we want from life and what life is asking of us.

It is not necessary to get trapped in a loss of faith. We can name our experience and address the loss that put us in bad faith. Because life is essentially about change, we are having a constant relationship with something ending and something else beginning. When we have a loss of faith, we lean more heavily into our relationship with death, which tugs us away from life. We can regain biophilia by taking responsibility for losing faith in life and grieving our losses.

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