Losing your faith can be painful — but the experience can strengthen your convictions and revitalize your spiritual life.
Whether it’s in a higher power, humanity, or yourself, faith can bring your life meaning. So, losing your faith can be a painful and difficult experience.
It’s natural and common to question your beliefs from time to time, whether those beliefs are religious, spiritual, or value-based. You might question the existence of God, or if you’re not religious, you might wonder whether humanity is truly good and whether it’s worth fighting for your values.
Losing your faith is a common experience. Although this process can be confusing, you might walk away with a stronger sense of faith than before. Or, you might refine your value system so that you have a clearer idea of your beliefs.
Faith is a strong belief in something or someone.
Most people associate faith with religion. Religions often encourage followers to believe in God or a Higher Power and their religious teachings.
Different religions have different teachings around faith, and your personal definition of faith might be influenced by your religion.
If you’re not religious, you can have faith in:
- the Universe
- a value, such as equality or liberation
- an idea, such as an egalitarian society
Faith is a strong, enduring belief in something. When you have faith in something, you’re confident in its abilities.
Your faith likely influences how you behave and think. In times of trouble, an enduring faith tells you to hold on and believe that it’ll work out.
In other words, it gives you hope, even when you have little reason to be hopeful.
Losing your faith can be difficult because you lose that confidence and hope. As a result, you might feel:
- doubtful about whether you’ve made the right choices in the past
- silly for believing in something that you now don’t believe in
If you’re religious, your faith probably affects many aspects of your life, from your community and daily activities to what you eat and wear. Losing your faith can mean rethinking all those facets of life, which can disrupt your relationships, routines, and life plans.
But losing your faith isn’t always a bad thing.
You might use it as an opportunity to reconnect with your values, which can bring new life to your spiritual beliefs. Second-guessing your religion, for example, could be an opportunity to either strengthen your relationship with God or a Higher Power or choose a spiritual path that aligns with your beliefs.
There are many reasons why you might second-guess your beliefs or become disillusioned with religion or society.
You might lose faith after:
- traumatic experiences that make you doubt whether your god is truly benevolent
- mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety
- experiencing bereavement and wondering whether life is worthwhile
- feeling lonely and disconnected from others
- life changes that make you reassess your beliefs
- experiencing significant personal growth
In terms of religion, you might lose faith if:
- you encounter people of your religion that don’t practice what they preach, so to speak
- you witness or experience abuse or discrimination from religious leaders
- you re-evaluate your values and find that it doesn’t match your religion
- certain religious teachings ring untrue for you
It’s common to experience doubt. But sometimes you might go through a change of faith where you actively decide to pull back from, or change, your religion. If this happens, try to give yourself time to mourn your previous faith.
If you’d like to regain your faith, there are a few ways to do so.
- Journaling: Journaling can help you process your thoughts and reconnect with your values. This
2018 studyfound that journaling for 12 weeks significantly reduced mental distress in anxious adults
- Prayer: If it’s a part of your practice, prayer can bring you clarity and strengthen your conviction.
- Meditation: Meditation can help you connect with a higher power or yourself. Additionally, research suggests that it could help you
stress less, focus more, and feel less lonely
- Community: Connecting with others who share your faith can re-ignite your faith and help you feel less alone. As a
2017 reviewdiscussed, several studies have shown that social support when going through stressful events can help improve health and quality of life.
You might also want to think about when you’ve felt faith strongly before and recreate that situation. Perhaps your faith in humanity felt strengthened when you volunteered at your local shelter, or you felt closer to God or a Higher Power when you sat in nature and meditated.
If religion or spirituality has lost its appeal, consider the following:
- joining a new group, such as a new Bible study group or a new meditation class
- going on a religious or spiritual retreat
- embarking on spiritual self-study
- attending spiritual seminars or classes
- volunteering for a cause that resonates with your values
If you’re feeling disillusioned with your congregation or religion, consider speaking with a religious leader about your concerns.
If your religion feels misaligned with your values, you could try attending a different service or visiting a different place of worship — one that’s more aligned with your values and beliefs.
Many people re-think their faith when they go through traumatic or life changing events. Consider speaking with a mental health professional if you’ve experienced a major life change or trauma.
Therapy can help you process the event and provide a safe space to talk about losing your faith.
Whether you’re religious, spiritual, or neither, it’s natural to have doubts about your faith from time to time. If you’re losing your faith, it’s possible to re-ignite your sense of conviction.
You might sometimes feel that you’ve lost your faith for good. You might lose your religion or change your spiritual beliefs and practices. While this loss can be painful, it’s possible to overcome it and thrive.