Self improvement and religion might seem like two totally diverse concepts. Many learned people are of the opinion that religion places people in boxes where they have to fit a specified mould, this prevents them from reaching self actualization. Others believe that religion is a vehicle in which a person may embark on a journey of eternal progression. Between these opposite views are some principles which could help you improve.
Most religions have a set of guidelines or standards which governs behaviour, e.g. Christians adhere to the 10 Commandments. By living up to the guidelines, a person will receive rewards (blessings). The standards also prevent believers from indulging in harmful practices. It follows then that a righteous person will be able to progress better with their self improvement.
The guilt believers experience when breaking commandment can have a negative effect on self improvement. Even non-believers experience feelings of guilt to some extent when doing things that bring unhappiness to others. Guilt fills a person with negative feelings and lowers self esteem. These feelings are counter productive to improvement. The process to over come these negative emotions is called repentance. Different religions provide for this in different ways. Part of this process most often involves confession.
Confession can also lift your burdens even if you are non-religious. Just talking about your problem with your closest friend will make you feel better. If you have done some injustice to someone else, just speak to them and iron out your differences. It will make you feel more positive.
Prayer is probably the most used religious principle and can have a real positive influence on self improvement. Prayer is defined as communication with God or a superior being. It is believed that God answers prayers. Religious and non-believers practice prayer in some way or another. Those who pray find strength through the belief that the prayer will be answered, the verbal expression of their needs, the sharing of their dreams and goals motivates them to succeed, belief that they will be assisted in overcoming their problems and feeling that they are not alone in their struggle.
Reading scripture i.e. Holy Bible, Koran, etc can have a positive influence on self improvement. These books abound in examples of people being able to overcome weaknesses and to become more perfect. You don not have to be religious to benefit from reading Holy Scripture.
Being a member of a religious group provides social support to the member. Fellow members understand the need to become more perfect and thus provide support in self improvement efforts. You will most probably find that they are also in turn trying to improve in one way or another.
The most powerful concept offered by religion is that humans are sons and daughters of a God and thus have unlimited potential. This realization can assist believers in motivating themselves to tackle very difficult self improvement projects, knowing that they are very likely to succeed. It also gives them emotional strength and faith to keep on trying when things might look hopeless.
Taking all things into account, maybe self improvement and religion are not as diverse as expected!
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