Is the hot mess you are in right now your own fault? I don’t think so and here’s why!
One of the problems with positive psychology and a lot of spiritual belief systems, including the law of attraction is that they often seem to suggest that the hot mess that is your life right now your own fault.
And this simply isn’t true.
If you are broke, the law of attraction suggests that visualising yourself being rich and living in abundance can help. I’m not saying it won’t, but, the fact that a tiny percentage of the people own the vast majority of the wealth is not your fault – that’s societies fuck up not yours.
If you or a loved one are sick and not getting the right treatment that’s not your fault either. It could be the health system in the country you live in, environmental pollutants or stress you can’t avoid.
War, starving children, sickness, depression, inequality, crime, violence, misogyny, racism – you name it unless you are actively participating in creating it then, guess what? It’s not your fault.
Any spiritual practice that denies that we lived in a fucked up world and instead blames us for ‘creating our own reality’ denies our inner truth and makes us feel shame, sadness, guilt and fear.
Any belief system that persuades you to varnish over your ‘bad’ feelings with a gloss of positivity is playing the blame game, too.
So is anything our fault?
Now, I am not saying that we should all wallow around in victimhood crying, ‘woe is me’ or, ‘cruel world’. And I am not saying we should blame others or fail to take responsibility when it is appropriate. I am just saying that feelings of guilt, shame and self-blame are not helpful when things are going dreadfully wrong in our lives.
And of course, we do have a part to play in creating our own reality. We do, in a very literal way create a lot of what comes up in our lives. If I am grumpy towards you, chances are you will be grumpy back. Boom. I just created my own reality.
But being told that we ‘create our own reality’ piles on the sense of shame, damages us and hurts like hell. It can lead to us endlessly asking questions like, ‘what the hell is wrong with me? How did I create all these bad things in my life? Does it mean I am a bad person, or not spiritually aware enough, or am I paying a debt from a freaking past life?’
‘Does it mean I am a miserable, ungrateful wretch? Does it mean there is fundamentally something wrong with me that is causing my life to be such a hot mess?’
To believe that the burden of responsibility for every hot mess we experience belongs on our shoulders is neither true, fair or helpful.
And if I experience bad feelings and negativity I can’t always help it. If I am lying in bed for a week experiencing severe depression, and the universe/god/spirit reflects that negativity back at me, causing more depression – then the universe is a jerk!
This is simply the shame that most religions, cultures and societies have placed at our feet in some form or another. We suffer because we are not good enough, and the shit in our lives proves that we are not good enough. Of course, powerful institutions love to do this as it keeps us in our place and makes sure we toe the line.
But, I think denying our true feelings can do us more harm than good. I think that blaming ourselves for not being ‘positive’ enough damages our wellbeing.
Why are we tempted to believe in the law of attraction?
So, why is it so tempting to believe that our problems are caused by us. Well, probably because that does at least give us a sense of control. If we are causing our own problems at least this means that, in theory, we can do something about it. The alternative is to believe that we have very little control over what goes on in our lives and that scares the hell out of us. We’d rather accept that it is our fault than believe life is mostly a random set of events over which we have no control.
But this sense of control is a double-edged sword. It may make us feel better in the moment. But in the long term, blaming ourselves for every ill that befalls us chips away at our confidence and self-esteem.
Of course, there are many things that are within our control, including our actions, our words, the way we treat others and the planet, the way we work and the way we love and the efforts we make to move towards a fairer society. So, let’s just focus on getting those things as right as we can and let go of the guilt and shame when we aren’t as perfectly positive as we would like.