Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science


It’s the Enemy Voice in our heads: you’re stupid. You’re crazy. You’re weak. You’re sinful. You’re damaged.

You’re wrong. About everything.

That voice is the Enemy. It is the soul-killer.

We inherit it from parents and teachers and classmates, from religious leaders. We internalize it, make it our own, until it almost seems it is there to help us.

To protect us from harm.

And so we start to listen to it.


Stop stop stop stop stop.

That voice is a LIAR.

That voice is malicious and it is not on your side.

HERE IS THE TRUTH: You are luminous and beautiful and creative and full of stars.

That is reality. That is the fact of this world.

I sat down to write this piece about doubt. About how doubt is a useful thing for us.

Because doubt, combined with critical thinking, is the best way to figure out what is most likely to be true. Ye Olde Razore of William of Ockham, right?

But somehow what came out as I started to type was about self-doubt. And that is entirely a different thing.

We must ask ourselves hard questions now and again, just to keep ourselves honest. We must ask ourselves about our conclusions, our beliefs, our philosophies.

But we must separate that process from the vicious, vindictive, cruel voice whose only purpose is to make us small and afraid and self-questioning.

Go forth, Atheopagans. Love yourselves. Ask hard questions, and answer them.

But remember always: you are, each one of you, a unique miracle of the Universe’s manifestation.

You shine.

Never doubt it, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.



  1. Yes! I have been thinking about this for a while and the way you expressed it was great! That self doubt … first encouraged by the family religion, but then even when I became a skeptic I somehow thought part of being a skeptic was questioning everything even my own worth. And my pagan practice and positive affirmations have helped me more than i’d ever hoped.

    Anyway, great post. ♥️

  2. Yes, self-doubt: that horrid little bastard in your head, always telling you you’re awful, when you most certainly are not!   Don’t listen to his lies…

    You shine! Thanks——Colette “Ye Olde Razore of William of Ockham, right?” heh

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

  3. Well, I don’t know how full of stars I am, but I’ve had sufficient caffeine this morning, and I want to offer a slightly different perspective on that critical, belittling, voice: it is, in fact, there to “protect us from harm”; it”s just that it’s doing a very bad job of it.

    When we’re little, and we have the misfortune of being in a family who’s parenting style is abusive, we try to understand why we’re being mistreated- not consciously, of course, but we’re “reason seeking” creatures, and the only way we can make sense of what’s happening is, we must be “bad”, or we wouldn’t be treated this way. Our parents tell us how stupid and hopeless we are. They treat us as if we are worthless, as if our very presence is an unfortunate mistake. They are gods, who know everything, so, our young brains reason, they must be right: that’s what we are. That feels terrible, but it makes sense.

    At the same time, we are utterly dependent on them, for life, itself. Their disapproval is, literally, life threatening. We must placate and please them, as much as possible, or they will withdraw their ever-conditional love, and we will die.

    So, we figure out a way to do it: we will take over the “fawning” job of belittling and insulting and withholding love. We internalize our abusive parents, and, loyally, begin to do the caustic, destructive work, ourselves. Perhaps, if we denigrate ourselves enough, if we agree with them enough, they will continue to care for us in some way, and we learn to call that “love”. It’s painful, and it fills us with rage, but it’s what we’ve got.

    The part of ourselves that takes on that hopeless job, is what we call our “Critic”, or our Judge”, and it’s job, as it sees it, is to keep us safe from abandonment by finding fault, name calling and criticizing, before anybody else can. It’s like a big, clumsy bodyguard, who once protected us as best it could, but now has forgotten why it’s there. Still, it continues to barge in, with interventions that had some useful function, years ago, but now have become liabilities. Instead of protection, it is perpetuating, even worsening, the damage.

    My point- and I actually do have a point, here- is that, treating that part of us as an “Enemy” is counterproductive. What we oppose, we energize, and our confused bodyguard is no exception. I think it can work a lot better if we understand what the Critic is trying to do, thank it for it’s misguided efforts and suggest that it can retire. We’re big now. We understand. We can take care of ourselves. We’ll be fine. No, really, thank you for your well-meaning efforts, here’s a gold watch and a plaque, and here’s the door. We’ll call you if we need you.

    It’s not that simple, of course. It’s been doing that job for a long time, and it will continue to barge in, uninvited, when we feel tired or discouraged or unloved, but, with patience and time and, maybe, some help, we can, eventually, get it to understand that it’s not needed any more. We’ve replaced it with a new voice that is self-affirming and (at the very least) non-abusive. We’ve changed. Now we can sing “We are stardust, we are golden…”, and begin to believe it.

    That’s what I’ve got to say about that, this morning. Thanks for the inspiration, Mark. Be well, all.

    1. Buffalo, your model for working with the Critic/Gatekeeper/Prison Guard/What-Have-You voice is one that has worked for many, I’m sure, but it did NOT work for me. It helped much more to declare it an enemy and an interloper, at which point I no longer needed to listen to it at all. That has worked VERY well for me.

      So, different strokes, but it is definitely not true that treating that part of us as an enemy is always counterproductive.

  4. Paganism helped me overcome that inner voice of self doubt. However it was the combination of middle age, hormone supplementation and the usual share of Gemini sociopathy to completely wither the part of my brain which ever gave a flea’s bum what anybody thought of me 🙂

    But even though I don’t doubt my base worth, I do try to have a healthy doubt of my decisions, especially when I’m tempted to think of myself as particularly wise. Without that doubt, especially in a a spiritual endeavor, the whole project goes Jonestown in a hurry.

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