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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Is Tomorrow the End of the World?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: May 20th 2011

 

end of worldWell, tomorrow, May 21st, 2011 is supposed to be the end of the world. Wait, I thought the Mayans said it was supposed to be 2012? Either way, it gets a lot of publicity (this post is a good example).

A Christian Family Radio station in Oakland, California has been spending of lot of time, money and effort letting people know that if they step up and believe, they will be beamed to heaven when the giant worldwide earthquake hits tomorrow while the rest will be left to suffer.  

So what’s the truth?

The quick and dirty answer is who knows? But these claims have been made for centuries on end and each time the next day comes. So my guess is the probability of this happening is smaller than I can even imagine.

So what is it about the need to find a definitive date in religious or spiritual teachings when all things will come to an end?

Why strike fear into people’s hearts and minds?

It doesn’t get us anywhere to judge the people who are lighting up this movement, but it is more helpful to get curious about it. My guess is it’s not intentionally vindictive; there is a deep belief that this is true. If a person who believes is reading these lines right now, it’s highly likely that they think I am ignorant and feel sad for me as I will likely go to hell. They’re sure of this.

But how does that happen, how do these deep, unshakable beliefs come to be and how is it reconciled when the next day comes?

I think these are all important questions to ask because to some degree we all have deep seeded beliefs that we aren’t even aware of.

We believe we have to dress and act a certain way to belong. We may believe that deep down we’re unlovable, or that we’ll never be able to write a book, get that job, or lose weight. Beliefs are probably the most powerful subconscious thoughts that exist as they color the way we see life and influence our behaviors moment to moment.

We don’t know when beliefs start exactly, but we do know that from the moment we open our eyes in this world, we are sponges for how things work and we absolutely buy what we see and hear in our environments. Our brains are in critical stages of formation and the wiring is happening quickly. So we wire together beliefs based on our experience. If you were abused as a child, it’s highly likely that you felt unworthy or unlovable. If you were brought up in a loving and attuned environment, you may believe that you can do anything you set your mind to.  

However, beliefs can be brought to light and if they are unhealthy, they can be shattered.    

Certainly many African Americans believed deeply that there would be no way they would see a black President in their lifetime, but it happened and the glass ceiling disappeared.

Practice: Consider if you have any beliefs suggesting you are unlovable, unworthy, or that you just can’t do something. See if you can ride the string back to earlier times in your life and see where that message came from. Then each time you experience those thoughts, let the emotion, whether it’s fear, shame, etc… as it comes up in your body ground you to the reality of the present moment. Then see if you can see an alternative vantage point.

Try this out as a practice over and again and see if you start to see cracks in your beliefs. It’s through these cracks that the light shines through.

And by the way, if you’re reading this post after May 21st, congratulations, we’ve all made it!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Embrace - Elisha Goldstein - May 21st 2011

Hi there,

I wonder what it would be like to not judge your shame and instead care for it like a little child needs care. Surround it with warmth and love as a practice when it arise while setting aside judgments. 

everybody is unique, so this is yours to try on and see what happens. 

with gratitude,

Elisha

What We Need To Really Believe IN - Kathryn - May 21st 2011

When Jesus answered the  twelve about when the end would come Jesus told them that there was no date or time but that we should always be alert and ready. He also told them that we would know according to various natural and world events happening but the end would not come until all the world was told of the gospel.

HOPE - Jeremiah Agozzino - May 21st 2011

Dr. Goldstein

              I read what you had to say, man you speak on the things that live in peoples hearts and your secular, probably liberal, whatevever. I  was raised in the church, a non- denom preachers son and raised in, "The Word of GOD!" It went in one ear and out the other, although, being taught that I will always fall short of the glory of GOD became true! Way to much guilt for a child to comprehend in my opinion! I grew up in the church and at home with the old school fear of GOD, spurgeon style. We had a pretty structured loving family, with discipline and love, untill my sister was taken away by death! My father was no small potatoes kind of pastor, he has been a significant influence in many peoples lives, I am a witness to that in itself! I dont want to sound selfish but I am worried about me and the rest of my siblings, and our state of mind and soul! I was a heroin addict for ten years, talked to many,gratuated rehabs, put myself in the rooms of AA for years, many wise people and it is what it is but even now, as I have departed from the devine wisdom from which I was once taught, going in one ear and out the other and my own will, I have actually come back to something that is true, I know GOD exsists because I have been tempting HIM for about thirty years and He always puts me in my place! outside of that, my GOD, THE CREATOR ANSWERS MY PRAYERS AND COMES AND COMFORTS ME IN SOME VERY HARD TIMES!  I relize now that most of what I was taught was , and is,"The Way," Hope is what I am concerned with and all I want to know is how do I, now, become successful in just being me? A sinner, with many gifts and skills, that will never come to fruition, without putting God first above all else?

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