I hear it all the time in spiritual circles, "YOU are responsible for EVERYTHING that has ever happened to you," and "There are no victims." These sentiments translate to, "You may not realize it, but you asked for it. It's your fault." It makes you responsible for everyone else's behavior, and it's a really crummy thing to say to people who are already struggling (and seriously, who's not?).
Even after a lifetime of spiritual pursuit, this sentiment still sounds like nails screeching down a chalkboard. SCREEEEEEEEECCCCHHHHHH
Whenever I've had the chance to ask for philosophical details from the people who have said it, I have. I've gotten lots of lame answers and blank stares.
Conversations go like this:
Me: So everyone is responsible for everything that has ever happened to them, am I hearing that correctly?
Them: Yes. Everything.
Me: So the woman who is raped while jogging in the park...she is responsible for being raped?
Them: Well, umm, that's a horrible thing, but she chose to be at the park at that time. Something drew her there. Her karma, maybe.
Me: Okay, what about babies who are beaten and molested? Are they responsible for being abused?
Them: Well you see, you choose your parents before you incarnate. You chose them based on the lessons you wanted to learn here. Plus, people come with karma from past lives, so no one is innocent anyway, not even babies.
Me: What about children who are kidnapped by strangers? What about strangers who murder random people? What about horrible accidents?
Them: Well, we all have free will, so...
I can't take it. I just can't. We have to clear this up. Victim blaming isn't helpful, and it adds to the shame and powerlessness of being victimized to begin with.
Can you imagine this pre-incarnation conversation...
Me: Hey, loving spirit, Can I ask you a favor?
Them: Oh my gosh, I Am Love, and You Are Love...I'd totally do anything for you!
Me: Great! You see, I'm about to incarnate on Earth, and around that age of 4, I'm going to be dancing and spinning, delighting in the feel of my body, and the sunshine on my face, feeling really at home in this graceful form.
Them: Yeah? That sounds great!
Me: Yeah, I want you to humiliate me when that happens. I need that so I remember to not ever feel too good about myself, or too safe in my body. Can you do that?
Me: Just push me down and tell me how stupid I look. Maybe kick some sand into my face to drive the point home.
Me: No, seriously. Come on. You will be totally enlightened after, because it's a favor to me. You'll do it, right?
Yeah, not so much, me either. I can't imagine...
Here's the deal:
YOU are responsible for YOUR actions, YOUR reactions, YOUR thoughts, YOUR emotions, and all YOUR various feelings. YOU are responsible for making your life what you want it to be, regardless of what has happened to you.
You didn't ask anyone to hurt you. The love that you are wouldn't do that. The love they are wouldn't agree to it.
We have all been victimized in some way or another, big or small, but none of us need to play the role of victim. And that's the point.
You may have been victimized, but...
You don't have to play the role of a victim.
Take responsibility for what your life looks like right now, inner and outer, and make the changes that need to be made in order for you to be joyful, peaceful, and free. You are responsible for making YOU happy (you can't make anyone else happy). If there are things that can't be changed, accept them. Shift your paradigm with those things, and learn to be peaceful with them. Allow everything in your life to drive you toward your soul, toward your personal fulfillment, toward love and compassion.
Crummy stuff happens sometimes. It's our job to look for the silver linings, and if we can't find them, to create them.
Have you ever encountered this misconception?
What spiritual concepts have you heard that don't resonate with you?
Please share your thoughts below.
Having a mentor or coach in your life can be really helpful.
It's someone who can show us how to be better at life, to inspire us that there is more within our reach. Someone to lean on for a minute when we feel weak and worn down, and feel like giving up. Someone to show the way to a better way of life.
Mentors, coaches, spiritual leaders, healers, therapists, teachers... we have many names to call the people who are in positions to do these things. We honor them. We respect them. We are vulnerable with them.
And there is little more devastating to our sense of being than when we are let down or betrayed by our leaders.
It's important to do your research on your prospective mentor so you know you're putting your trust in the right person.
As you search for a mentor, keep these guidelines in mind.
1. Someone you desire to emulate in the way they show up to the world. Your mentor should be a presence of love, joy, peace, and integrity in your life (and the lives of others). When you buy into their sessions, programs, classes, churches, or healing centers, what you are really buying into is them. Everything else is secondary.
Quick tip: Check out their online presence. Are they positive, helpful, and uplifting? Or are they sarcastic, inappropriate, and make themselves out to be victims? Would you be proud to share their content with your loved ones, or would you feel the need to apologize for their behavior?
2. (Respectfully) challenges you, makes you think new thoughts and question old ones. Paying someone to agree with you exclusively is a waste of time, money, and energy. Also, it creates unhealthy dynamics that are counter to the goals of growth and betterment. Someone who agrees with you all the time is afraid to lose you. Right there, the relationship is already dysfunctional and doomed.
A mentor who demands agreement, submission, or buy-in may be an ego-maniac. If they make you feel stupid for having other ideas, opinions, beliefs, or experiences, beware.
3. Without an agenda, other than to serve your needs. Your mentor is a servant leader. You shouldn't feel bullied, belittled, or bossed around.
Warning Sign! If a mentor won't refer you out to another expert in another path of expertise, or worse - acts jealous when you explore! - that can be a clue that your mentor has an agenda other than your growth.
4. Not afraid to rattle your cage. If you have a great mentor, you may at times feel quite upset with them. Calling into question every belief you are guided by is some triggering work.
Even though you want someone who will challenge you, there is a fine line into abuse of power. Always remember the first rule: LOVE. Love has no agenda other than to be love, to serve love, and to expand in love.
5. Sees the world through eyes of love and compassion. If your mentor is angry, jealous, petty, or fearful, then those are the lenses they are guiding you through. That is who they will teach you to become. It would be impossible not to, if that's what they embody.
Watch out for mentors who withhold and are not transparent in their authenticity.
6. Has excellent boundaries. Your mentor is not your buddy. Our pals rarely hold us (or themselves) to high standards. Your mentor must be that exemplar for you so you can learn too...and all without making you feel less than, or lower. Boundaries should bolster your confidence overall, because they create a safe space for you.
Red flag! Watch out for mentors who date or have sex with their students. No one can truly feel safe in an environment where they are a potential interest for the leader.
7. Willing and able to say, "I don't know." Humility is important in mentorship. Mentors have the power to destroy the lives of those who trust them implicitly. Your mentor shouldn't make up answers or be brash - they should take time to consider the options with you and be willing to come back to you later with more information.
Watch out when they don't acknowledge their mistakes, or apologize sincerely.
8. Eagerly welcomes your questioning and skepticism. Trust is earned. If your mentor takes your lack of understanding what you came to learn as an affront, you have a big red flag on your hands. If they know their stuff, and if they are confident in their abilities, they will actually trust and respect you more for questioning them. You can't really own a concept for yourself without questioning it at some point.
TIP: You'll know they're welcome of your questioning when they respect your opinions if you decide you don't agree with their ideas.
9. Has expertise in the area you seek help in. You wouldn't go to a doctor who flunked out of medical school, so why would you take financial advice from someone who was chronically broke? Or business advice from someone who works two part-time jobs to make her business possible? Or relationship advice from someone trapped in a bad marriage?
If the mentor you are considering seems unstable in their history, or has multiple jobs, make sure you look at the big picture to see if that's a fit for you.
10. Acknowledges the partnership between you. No one can change you. You must change yourself, if you are to change. Your mentor is a way-shower and a cheerleader. YOU are the hero in your story. Be cautious if your mentor is a glory hog.
Red flag: "I told you so" shouldn't come out of your mentor's mouth. Your mentor is ultimately a resource for your own life - they're not your boss.
Working with someone to change your life is always a huge step, and a vulnerable one. We hear stories all the time from people whose doctors have said vile and hurtful things without even seeming to realize it, or care that they did. If a practitioner of physical health can hurt us so deeply, imagine what a practitioner of spiritual, emotional, or mental health can do, and how it can affect our relationships with self and others, and our businesses.
One more thing...
Watch out for someone with no history in their field. Some mentors chose their profession as a back-up plan or because they couldn't find work in another field. This isn't always a deal-breaker, but it almost never feels the same as working with someone who truly LOVES serving others and sees it as their lifelong mission.
Do you remember the 1991 movie What About Bob? In the opening scene, we meet Bob Wiley, a neurotic mental patient staring into the mirror and chanting, "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful..." And as you watch his morning routine, you'll see he feels anything but good, great, and wonderful.
Knowing what you want is great, but repeating affirmations and thinking your life is going to change just doesn't work.
As you shift your mindset to include affirmations, you may begin to notice, and be grateful, for things that may have gone unnoticed before, and that's a great start.
But if affirmations were that easy, we'd all be living the dream by now.
In order to make affirmations work, we must change our minds at a core level.
The conscious mind is easy to change. One moment you want vanilla, the next you want chocolate. It's already made, and it's vanilla? Well then, vanilla is great! Easy. We change our conscious minds all the time.
For affirmations to work, to change our lives, we have to dive beneath the surface and root out our sub-conscious and unconscious beliefs, and our core patterning. We have to identify what we believe that is not supporting of the life our affirmations would have us believe we want (sub-conscious)- and why we believe it (unconscious).
The unconscious and subconscious minds are vast, and how they formed must be understood in order for us to bring them to consciousness (where we finally have a choice to change them). So long as something is still unconscious or sub-conscious, there is little, if anything, that can be done about them.
The unconscious mind is formed from conception to about age 3. The mind is a sponge that takes in everything without discrimination or discretion. Once we understand Me, Mine, and I - ie; that we are separate from our parents - then the subconscious begins to form based on the beliefs and wounding patterns established in the unconscious.
Our subconscious then influences EVERY SINGLE CONSCIOUS BELIEF we have. So basically, unless you can get to that core unconscious belief and work on reprogramming your core pattern, you will continue to make the same choices and mistakes, even though you feel like you are making different choices. You'll trade the blonde for the brunette, not realizing that the brunette holds the same relationship dynamics for you (because those dynamics and patterns are actually yours).
When we change our mind's programming to align with what we consciously desire, it is then that we become unstoppable. It is then that we become magnets for the very things that were once mysteriously out of our reach.
When someone says to you, "Oh, just write some affirmations to change your life!" what they are really saying is, "Oh, just radically transform everything about yourself, then it'll be no problem!"
That's a lot of work. But, hey, I love transformation.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
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