Whenever a child’s parents divorce, he/she inevitably feels some guilt. The child believes, deep down, that he is somehow to blame. He can’t put his finger on it, exactly. But he knows the whole thing must somehow be his fault. As adults, when we see a child going through this, we feel nothing but compassion. “Of course it’s not your fault, dear little one. Your parents both love you very much, but they…” (blah, blah, blah, whatever the excuse for the divorce is).
As adults, we do something similar when we take the law of attraction too far. Today I was reading a post from a woman who just went through a cruel and unexpected break-up. I was already feeling bad for her. But then she said something like this: “I don’t understand why this is happening. I’ve been working so hard on myself. Over the past several years, I’ve been doing the work, examining myself, growing, and getting stronger. My friends and family all notice a difference in me. So, why did this happen?”
Deep within this woman’s heart was an anguished sense of blame, guilt, and frustration. Because her boyfriend had treated her disgracefully, she must have done something wrong to “attract” the situation. So, not only was she dealing with the normal torment of being cruelly and unceremoniously dumped by her lover, she was carrying the extra spiritual baggage of assuming it must be her fault. Law of Attraction groupies are often quick to jump on the blame bandwagon – “How’d you manifest that?” they ask smugly. Once, during a spiritual gathering, I even witnessed a woman – who had successfully beaten cancer – sit there and try to figure out which of her faults may have “caused” her cancer – little aspects of her practice that she may have neglected or not done perfectly. You could tell she still felt bewildered.
I’m sorry, folks, but this is utter and complete bullshit. In fact, the law of attraction is not a “law” at all. Gravity is a law. Every time you toss a ball into the air, gravity will pull it back towards the earth. However, the “law” of attraction is a tendency, at best. When we are kind and open, people tend to be kind and open with us. When we focus on the positive, we tend to notice and experience more positive people and situations. But when we imagine a simplistic one-to-one relationship between our thoughts and every little thing that happens to us, we return to childish thinking.
I’m sure you know that nice and open people sometimes get abused, even killed. What about children who experience abuse? Were they just being negative? Did they manifest abusive parents because of some kind of karmic debt they racked up before birth? Some people do actually believe this. But I think “nonsense” is too good a word. You can focus on success and prosperity all day, and all night, and still lose your job. You could be a loving husband and still get cheated on. You could drive safely and still end up in a car accident. Please don’t make the simplistic and immature assumption that every little thing in your life is all your fault.
It is very important to remember that human beings have free will. If you are a religious person of any ilk, you know that even God Himself will not violate your free will. And, religious or not, you know that you, like everyone else, has the right to choose. Good people are allowed to make choices, and bad people are allowed to make choices. Conscious people make decisions, and unconscious people make decisions. The good choices uplift others – whether they deserve it or not. And the crappy choices bring others down, whether they deserve it or not. This is the price we pay for living in community.
The only thing that is truly under our control is how we respond to life. If we allow misfortune to send us into a downward spiral, we will tend to experience more and more misfortune. However, if we dust ourselves off and recalibrate, we can turn tragedy into triumph. We are responsible for our own thoughts and actions. Daily self-examination is essential. To put it bluntly, some things are our fault.
But, if your husband leaves you, you lose your job, someone slanders your reputation, or a coworker calls you names, do your self-examination and then move on. People have the right to leave you. Companies have the right to fire you. People have the right to their own opinions. You can’t force people to like you, or do the right thing. Sometimes you will encounter rude, crabby people who are mean to everyone. Grow up and realize that shit happens. Then figure out how to respond.
My response is to try and take those tough times and turn them into classrooms. When I lost a particular relationship, I did my self-examination. Did I make some errors? Sure: (1) I wanted a relationship too badly. Rather than turning within for my joy, I was seeking happiness outside myself. (2) I assumed that if a man was a regular member of a spiritual organization, he must be conscious, mature, and full of integrity. (3) I thought I could change him with my love, so I stayed too long.
However – were his damaging actions my fault? Did I “attract” a crazy person into my life because I had done something wrong? No. Through that relationship I got to flex my love muscles and make them stronger. I practiced how to be happy regardless of circumstances. I demonstrated self-love by leaving at the first sign of violence. I embraced the process of forgiveness and recalibrated my life plan as a single woman.
So, feel free to reflect, self-examine, grow, mature, evolve. But stay away from blame and guilt. As comforting as the idea of a protective daddy-God is – one who makes sure that everything happens fairly, and that nothing ever hurts us as long as we’re good – this is not the deal we get when we spring from the womb. Life is everything – good, bad, miraculous, horrific, funny, tragic, and beautiful. We experience it all, whether we are “good” or not. Living a deeply spiritual life does not mean nothing “bad” will ever happen to us. It means that, no matter what happens, we get to reflect the timeless qualities of love, peace, and integrity that make life worth living. We get to shine a Light on our little space in the world and make it a better place for everyone.
The sooner we embrace this, the happier we’ll be.
Peace and love,