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Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 09:44
by Reuben
I'm not asking about the actual effects of actually being an active Mormon or not. For example, satisfaction or stress from having a calling if you are an active Mormon isn't the kind of joy or sorrow I'm after.

I'm not asking about the actual effects of thinking of yourself as a Mormon or not. For example, being looked down on after being caught drinking coffee, which you drink because you don't think of yourself as a Mormon, isn't the kind of sorrow I'm after.

I'm trying to get at the joy or sorrow more directly caused by thoughts and feelings related to thinking of yourself as a Mormon or not. I'm after the stuff that goes on inside your head. If you feel isolated from other Mormons because your beliefs would be looked down on if widely known, this could count as sorrow from thinking of yourself as a Mormon. If you feel content in this particular body of Christ, this could count as joy from thinking of yourself as a Mormon. If you feel particularly free and independent on second Saturday, this could count as joy from not thinking of yourself as a Mormon. If you feel alienated from your spouse on Sundays even though your relationship is strong, this could count as sorrow from not thinking of yourself as a Mormon.

Answering this question might require some deep introspection. (It did for me.) If you're having trouble, try imagining having the opposite identity: either giving up your Mormon identity or assuming it again.

Follow-up questions:
  • If you don't think of yourself as a Mormon, are there one or more identities that replaced it? If so, what?
  • If you think of yourself as a Mormon, are there one or more identities you world rather have? If so, what?

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 09:58
by SilentDawning
I think of myself as a Mormon, but it's a mixed bag. It brings me happiness when I am successful in navigating the path of being in and out at the same time. It brings me sadness when I think of the negative effects it has had on my life. It brings me happiness when I think about the fact that most people are good people in the church -- nicer and gooder, on average than the people I served with in the community. It brings me sadness to think that I am not fully a member of the community unless I get behind most programs, with guilt-laden on top of me for not complying. I could go on and on with positives and negatives.
Follow-up questions:

If you don't think of yourself as a Mormon, are there one or more identities that replaced it? If so, what?
If you think of yourself as a Mormon, are there one or more identities you world rather have? If so, what?
I have sort of replaced my identity as a Mromon with an identity as a volunteer. More of a volunteer to the world at large than in the church. I see myself as a volunteer citizen of the world. And I no longer see myself as conscripted by the church like I realized the leaders thought I was. I reject any sort of persuasion based on the fact that I made a covenant. I accept requests to serve, after I consider the costs and benefits to everyone involved, when asked "are you willing to...." and not voluntold.

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 10:03
by Reuben
I'm running this poll at NOM for comparison. (Feel free to vote both places if you have accounts.) I'm really curious about what I'll find.

The poll is inspired by a few things:
  • Starting to study secular Buddhism
  • Wondering why disaffected members resign, and why they often report such a difference in their well-being when they do
  • Discovering that trying out labels for my beliefs (e.g. "Christian agnostic") seemed to lift an emotional burden
  • Realizing that keeping the identity label "Mormon" causes me to expect things that are unrealistic, which causes sorrow (but not unto resignation)
  • Realizing how far-reaching the effects of all of my identity labels are, and how many of them I have (e.g. husband, father, sibling, Mormon, computer scientist, statistician, American, etc., etc.)

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 11:11
by dande48
It's a mixed bag.

I met and married my wife because I'm a Mormon. I was raised by good parents with good values, because I'm a Mormon. I have higher moral standards, because I'm a Mormon. But I've also had a lot of struggles with relationships, empathy, perfectionism, trust... I think a large part of my depression and anxiety stems from being a Mormon. I dread Church on Sundays, and feel condemned for not agreeing with everything that is being taught. I feel restricted in my ability to worship according to the dictates of my own conscience.

I could identify, at least in part, with a lot of different groups. I consider myself Mormon, in a way. But I honestly don't feel like I fit in. I don't feel like there's a place for me anymore. "Agnostic" might be a more fitting label; I am very willing to admit that I don't know and probably never will. I affiliate with the Buddhist, because they have a very practical and effective approach to life, without resorting to a belief in the supernatural. It's a religion for agnostics. I would also consider myself a Christian, but I don't think many people would agree with me. Most Christians say you have to believe in the right sort of things about Christ to be a Christian, and my views greatly differ. There are many aspects of many religions (Judaism, Islam, Paganism, etc), which are extremely beautiful and enlightening, even though I don't believe in the supernatural claims behind them.

I wish I could feel Mormon again.

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 11:26
by AmyJ
dande48 wrote:
24 Apr 2018, 11:11
It's a mixed bag.

I met and married my wife because I'm a Mormon. I was raised by good parents with good values, because I'm a Mormon. I have higher moral standards, because I'm a Mormon. But I've also had a lot of struggles with relationships, empathy, perfectionism, trust... I think a large part of my depression and anxiety stems from being a Mormon. I dread Church on Sundays, and feel condemned for not agreeing with everything that is being taught. I feel restricted in my ability to worship according to the dictates of my own conscience.
Yup. You nailed it perfectly.
dande48 wrote:
24 Apr 2018, 11:11
I could identify, at least in part, with a lot of different groups. I consider myself Mormon, in a way. But I honestly don't feel like I fit in. I don't feel like there's a place for me anymore.
A part of me feels deluded when I think that there ever was a place for me. Some of my half prayers go along the lines of "I am requesting that you prove as God that there is place for me in the tent - if you can put the words into Malachi regarding being proved for opening the windows of heaven, then a little proof regarding the tent capacity for 1 person, or 1 family should be a picnic..." Thankfully there have been no lightening bolts <yet>.

But then, the church and its people are in good company, because on my most non-fitting in days I don't want to be in any institution's tent...
dande48 wrote:
24 Apr 2018, 11:11
"Agnostic" might be a more fitting label; I am very willing to admit that I don't know and probably never will. I affiliate with the Buddhist, because they have a very practical and effective approach to life, without resorting to a belief in the supernatural. It's a religion for agnostics. I would also consider myself a Christian, but I don't think many people would agree with me. Most Christians say you have to believe in the right sort of things about Christ to be a Christian, and my views greatly differ. There are many aspects of many religions (Judaism, Islam, Paganism, etc), which are extremely beautiful and enlightening, even though I don't believe in the supernatural claims behind them.

I wish I could feel Mormon again.
"Confused Humanist Aspie (quasi-feminist)" is my current description.
Also includes "Executive Functioning Visionary" for a family of 4, "Mom", "Wife", "Funny, Insightful Daughter", "Good (but quirky) Friend", "Employee", "Student", "Loud Teacher (in a good way - my VT said she can hear my R.S. lessons and enjoyed that being hard of hearing)", "Decent Neighbor", "Mourner", "Odd Brain Wiring Advocate (We got ADHD, Asperger's and a probable combo here - I have no idea what we are going to do about our apparently neuro-typical extrovert daughter)", "Religious Thinker (that's in part why I am here)".

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 13:11
by nibbler
It looks like dande48 and I have shared very similar experiences with Mormonism.

Mormonism gave me a family I never had growing up. Mormonism helped break me of mild xenophobia by extending me an opportunity to love another culture and learn a new language; this would serve as the beginnings of me being able to view myself and my culture from an "external" perspective. Exploring the flaws with Mormonism taught me empathy.

Mormonism also taught me scrupulosity which killed my spirit via messages that nurtured an unhealthy focus on obedience and seeking divine approval. I also sacrificed my personality at the altar of Mormonism, I felt like I had to become someone that I was not. It's still a struggle at times. I feel like the culture also produces bad fruit by bringing out people's competitive natures.

The Mormon culture is a microcosm of life. Good times, struggles, a place to grow but not the place to grow. I wouldn't be where I am today without it and I don't mean that as a compliment towards Mormonism or a criticism.
Reuben wrote:
24 Apr 2018, 09:44
  • If you don't think of yourself as a Mormon, are there one or more identities that replaced it? If so, what?
Atheist, Nihilist, Buddhist, Mormon, Christian, Agnostic... nibbler. Take your pick.

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 19:12
by LookingHard
nibbler wrote:
24 Apr 2018, 13:11
Reuben wrote:
24 Apr 2018, 09:44
  • If you don't think of yourself as a Mormon, are there one or more identities that replaced it? If so, what?
Atheist, Nihilist, Buddhist, Mormon, Christian, Agnostic... nibbler. Take your pick.
Does that make you an under-thinker or over-thinker of things? :smile:

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 20:54
by SilentDawning
I want to add that one experience actually affected my mental health to the point of meds required. And a depression diagnoses. I still thought of myself as a Mormon, but I no longer felt any pride in it. To this day, I'm not sure if I'm proud or ashamed of our church. But I know it can really hurt a person's overall happiness if taken too seriously.

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 25 Apr 2018, 00:53
by Ann
If I could start fresh with no bad effect on kith and kin, would I choose this church? I’m almost afraid to say aloud that my answer is “no.” Not with things as they are now. It’s the sad but honest truth, so I chose option 2.

Re: Poll: Mormon identity and its effect on emotional health

Posted: 25 Apr 2018, 04:29
by adrift
Well that's a tough call. I guess the best I can do is say that I used to consider myself Mormon; thinking about it now brings more sorrow than joy; and knowing what I now know I'd have never joined in the first place. As has been said, it's a mixed bag.

On the one hand, I have no venereal diseases, illegitimate children, drug addictions, or any of the many things I was taught would be avoided by keeping the commandments. On the other, rather than dealing with some of those things like an average member of society, I am left to reconcile and wrestle with having been lied to all of my life, unceasingly asked to give more than was possible and feel guilty upon failing, and the many things that many of you understand but the people in my every day life can't. It's a tough call for sure.

There have been good things that have come from it all but at what cost? I now find myself alone, with no direction, questioning everything and trusting nothing. It's hard to even trust my own gut at this point. Sorrow? Yes.

95% is glad I found the truth of the Matrix and feels bad for those still in it but sometimes up to 5% feels like Cypher, wishing I could go back. I used to have a place where I (thought I) belonged and now there's a void there.