Dealing with stress: can we do it without god?

In a world that is turbulent more often than we would like it to be, many of us find it difficult to cope through the unwarranted stress, but at the same time, there are several who are able to sail through with little effort. How do they do it?

Our religious orientations can make a great deal of difference on how we cope through difficult times. If you are a believer, it is relatively easy in the difficult times: leave it to the god and let him take the charge. Believers recite themselves that everything is controlled by him and is his wish and will. That allows many of theists to ease the frustration and stress in their lives because they relieve themselves of the role of calling-the-shots, and the ultimate responsibility for the consequences of those shots.

But what does non-believer (an atheist), or a lesser-believer (an agnostic) do? For them, the idea of god is vague. They like take the ownership and responsibility of their lives, their actions and its consequences. What do such people do? Recently, a difficult situation allowed me observe and explore this question more closely, and clearly. I will try to explain it with an analogy: the analogy of war.

When there is a war, the soldiers who participate – on both sides – are often faced with death. How do they deal with that stress? Those soldiers who believe in god may leave it to him and let their destiny be governed by his will. But what do the agnostic or atheist soldiers do? Not so much “conceptually” different from what their theist compatriots do; they too leave it to someone. This “someone” for them is not god but their “leader”. They trust their lives in the hands of their commanders, their kings and so on.

My observation is that it works in the same way like it does with god. We offload our frustrations and stress by offloading decision making, by telling ourselves that we do not govern or control the situation; we are merely in the flow of destiny. For theists, the destiny is defined by god and for atheists and agnostics, it is dynamic and a combination of actions of theirs and their leaders, depending upon who is leading.

Yes, there is an overlap. We will find soldiers who not just entrust their commanders but also god. However, the overlap is only superficial and the deep down, each person has only one commander, king or the supreme being they entrust at any given moment in life.

Trust is key in sailing through difficult situations – for everyone. Trust your god, the deity you believe in, trust your leaders, the commander you believe in or have faith in their abilities to lead you. If the leader you believe or choose to entrust is yourself, then trust yourself. The moment you do that, you will find yourself relieved of considerable stress you carry. Trust is magical. Try it the next time you are in a difficult situation and remember to offload your frustration to god, or to your “leader”.

Trust someone above you, and your worries will ease away.