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Healing with Spiritual Practices: Proven Techniques for Disorders from Addictions and Anxiety to Cancer and Chronic Pain
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CHAPTER ONE Spiritually Formative Practices and Stress-Related Disorders Everett L. Worthington Jr., Loren L. Toussaint, Brandon J. Griffin, Don E. Davis, and Joshua N. Hook In this chapter, we propose that spiritually formative practices have the potential to alleviate stress-related health problems and promote well-being. Although this proposition has not been directly tested, we provide a theoreti- cal rationale based on a psychological need to have a coherent sense of iden- tity. People strive to be consistent. When people identify with a value but act inconsistently with that value, they experience dissonance. Dissonance may lead to anxiety, depression, anger, and negative health behaviors that exacer- bate stress-related health problems. On the other hand, consistency between one’s behavior and virtue-promoting values can lead to a sense of coherent identity that provides resources to cope with stress, enhancing outcomes such as subjective well-being, interpersonal connection, and religious/ spiritual well-being. As initial evidence pertinent to our theorizing, we explore associations between two virtuous practices—humility and forgiveness—and stress-related outcomes. We conclude that the rationale and evidence justify more scientific investigation of the impact of spiritually formative practices on stress-related disorders.