In the past couple of days, I have seen a few different ‘spiritual’ victim-blaming memes doing the rounds, circulated by people who consider themselves healers and helpers of humanity. These ego-bashing memes made me cringe, so I chose to speak out to protect vulnerable people who might come across these posts. As a result, I got attacked by a supposed healer for doing so… So I figured, what the heck, why not go all the way and blog it to see how many more followers I can lose this week.
This is the response I got attacked over:
It’s OK to know and say, “I’m not a victim” but it’s NOT OK to victim blame and tell others to stop ‘playing the victim.’ There are victims of all kinds of crimes, corporations, paedophiles, psychopaths and narcissists out there. Trust them to know when they are ready to leave their past behind. That will be when their healing process has reached a certain stage, just as it happens for all of us. Telling the victim that it is a choice to leave victim mentality behind shows poor insight to human psychology. It may well come to a stage when it becomes a choice but people who are traumatised have very little choice initially. The thing to do is to show the victims of abuse and trauma all the support they need so that they feel they have that safe space to reach those kind of insights when the time is right. Same goes for forgiveness. That too is a process that cannot be forced upon someone from the outside.
New Thought / New Age
The New Thought Movement, which has hugely influenced the New Age, teaches us that all disease has its root in the mind, ergo the mind can heal all diseases. The mind is indeed a very powerful thing but we do not create our own reality and we cannot heal all diseases with our mind.
The New Thought values were also adopted by Christian churches, often combined with prosperity preaching, which really is not that different from what is put forward in that bestseller from ten years ago called ‘The Secret.’ Apparently, you cannot only think yourself completely healthy; you can also create your own financial reality and think yourself ridiculously wealthy… Or maybe it’s just the author who cashes in? Answers on a postcard.
If you could create your own reality, you would have control over time and space. You would be able to choose to die before any other family members. You would find controlling the seasons and the weather child’s play. Of course, you and I both know none of this is possible, so why does anybody believe in the platitude, ‘You create your own reality with your thoughts.’ ? Because it is convenient? Because it instils a false sense of security?
The truth is, while we can choose to control our response to the environment and to a certain degree influence the world around us, we cannot create our own reality any more than our favourite pet can. We are intrinsically linked with everyone else’s free will choices and the belief that our own thoughts can overrule the thoughts of everyone else is an intrinsically narcissistic belief. Furthermore, most of us can’t even effectively control our responses enough to maintain harmony and equilibrium but often found ourselves at the mercy of our own reactivity.
Buying into the belief that we create our reality with our thoughts contributes greatly to cognitive dissonance and is what makes so many people who cling to these false beliefs bury their heads in the sand as soon as anything unpleasant crops up, covering their ears, shouting ‘I don’t want your negativity in my life!’ Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt and spiritual bypass is rife, rife, rife…
As for the healing component of New Thought, I actually first encountered the ‘think yourself well’ thought paradigm in a Charismatic Christian church over in Sweden in the 1990’s. Of course, in that setting it is labelled ‘faith healing’ but ‘faith’ equals the thought that it is the power of belief that heals – in this instance a belief in the healing power of Jesus Christ.
I was in my early 20’s at the time but had already experienced my first healing miracle, as well as had experiences to the opposite of being certain my prayers would heal me or the person and I prayed for… yet nothing had happened. I knew myself as a recipient and channel of healing grace, not as someone who could control or dictate the outcome, even for myself.
After a sacred dance seminar at the church, I found myself on a train opposite one of the regular members. I was curious to find out more about their beliefs – faith healing in particular. I remember asking a question along the lines of, ‘What if a person who has lived their whole life in one of the world’s most polluted cities gets diagnosed with a terminal lung disease, can they be healed by just having faith in Jesus?’ And the person answered, ‘Yes, of course they can.’
I wasn’t convinced and I let them know. Awkward silence followed until one of us got off. And I still haven’t learned to keep my big gob shut.
Why I feel it is important to speak up
I actually feel that glib memes of the ‘You create your own reality’ or ‘Your ego-based choices ruin your life’ variety are just another, not so subtle form of scapegoating. People have simply switched from pointing a finger and shouting ‘Sinner!’ to blaming people for ‘coming from the ego’ or being ‘negative,’ all the while claiming to come from a place of absolute compassion and non-judgement themselves.
I call the bluff.
I call this behaviour out because it is harmful to the most vulnerable people in society, victims of abuse and diseases that they in no way had any part in manifesting in their own lives or in the lives of their children.
We simply don’t know the source of all disease but we are beginning to figure out that much of it these days comes from the environment and the environment is just another example of our interconnectedness – we have created it together and we need to problem-solve together… and in the meantime, many millions are going to die as a result – not of their own negativity – of our collective shadow to borrow a Jungian term.
PTSD got it’s own subtitle in this post because it is scientific evidence of the fact that not everyone is free to choose to leave the past behind. Trauma can rewire the central nervous system permanently, resulting in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In the case of children who grow up with severe, prolonged trauma and/or abandonment, it can result in something know as CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder).
PTSD and CPTSD are not the only mental health issues that make it impossible to simply choose to leave the past behind but they may be the clearest example of how the nervous system can be wired to force us to relive the past and to be on constant high alert because of it.
Most people I know who are CPTSD survivors actually do not refer to ourselves as ‘victims’ but rather as ‘survivors.’ I don’t know a single CPTSD survivor who would deny that a fellow survivor has been a victim at one point because we know that we did not choose our own childhood traumas and we know how very hard we have tried to focus on the future and stay positive.
Sigh. Is there a most misused word in modern spirituality? The devil has simply been substituted for ‘ego,’ just a ‘negativity’ is the new label for ‘sin.’ The ego was compared to the ‘Higher Self’ in one of the memes, as if it is something separate from the self.
Let’s be as clear as we were about the fact that we don’t create our own reality and look at what the ego actually is:
In Jungian psychology, “the ego represents the conscious mind as it comprises the thoughts, memories, and emotions a person is aware of.”
In other, words, none of us are able to function or exist without it, yet proponents of spiritual platitudes would have us think that we should somehow obliterated the ego and pretend that 150 years of psychology never happened.
See why I started this part of the post with a bit sigh? Here is another…
Calling all healers
If you feel called to help people, it is very important to know basic psychology. You don’t need a degree or even a diploma but you want to have some rudimentary understanding of what makes people tick and how the psyche works. I can’t recommend Jung enough for this. These are the sort of studies that will stop you from falling prey to hastily ‘researched’ spiritual pulp non-fiction, which is often someone regurgitating those old lies about you being the sole creator of your own reality.
Don’t like it?
Go work on your responses! 😉
I love this post, Lisa! Thank you so much for speaking out about this. I’ve also seen the connection to certain Christian groups, where they claim that if you are truly doing God’s work you will be rewarded with good health, lots of money, etc… Which automatically means that if you are ill and living in poverty = you’re not being a good Christian! It’s ugly it has sneaked over to “new age” as well.
I find that many people doing the law of attraction/”you can get anything you want” stuff are just trying to sell you something! It’s almost a pyramide scheme where they want to sell a course “Manifest 10 000$ in 10 weeks!” and they teach you to teach others the same thing, and then more and more people are lured into it. Are they all successful? Of course not, but they won’t speak up because of the SHAME of failing to manifest that money, since it’s all their own fault for not believing in it enough, according to the roots of the philosophy. It’s all sad and I’m so sick of seeing it and when I speak up I’m told I won’t ever reach any success since I am “so negative” lol gaaah…
Thanks Ania 🙂 Pyramid scheme? MLM? Hell yeah! And interestingly those people all seem to use the ‘psychology’ of LoA and prosperity preaching as well… Nothing spiritual about any of it.
I do see a lot of this. I see a lot of people telling other people they’re not broken, they are perfect as they are and that it’s time to move on. Some of this, while intended to inspire I’m sure, minimizes the experience of the hearer. It reminds me of the Bible verse that corrects people for saying “peace, peace” when there is no peace.
Sure I can be hopeful about an outcome. But who in hell are you (not you specifically) to deny me the opportunity to grieve my losses, to experience and thereby release, the pain of the assaults I have experienced? Ignore it and it will go away. Yesterday ended last night but my body has saved the memory of injuries done decades ago. It is only in listening to my body as she reminds me of former pain, and honoring her need to grieve, that I am free to heal.
Healing must happen on the timetable of the victim. I am tired of watching or hearing others blame the victim. My own child was picked on by a little boy and when I brought this up to adults responsible for her care at that center, I was told that “she’s a complainer.” Oh well that makes it okay. Carry on little jerk boy. I think not!
It is as if we are bombarded by a very, very popular movement that tells us to ignore anything we don’t want to feel. And that is a load of crap.
I have been fortunate. I have experienced wonderful healing from serious trauma. And this has happened because I was given permission to tell the truth and was loved right where I was at. I’m not saying I’ve arrived. I’m a work in progress. But I am saying that, as a healer, I will hold space for people to grow at their own rate.
Thanks for blogging an important topic si-star across the pond. Love you tons.
Thank you for weighing in on this topic and sharing relevant personal experiences. I’m so glad you were given that space and time to heal. We all deserve that. And yes, I agree, it’s not ‘done’ after severe childhood trauma… Some of it we have to keep working at for the rest of our lives… and that is OK too. Anything can be overcome with compassion. Love you too, si-star!
I was in my early 30’s, in counseling after my divorce, psych counseling not spiritual counseling, when I was diagnosed with PTSD from my childhood, and honestly, if I didn’t have an ego, I would not have survived. It was my “F&^$% you’ attitude and knowing that I deserved better and more from my life that helped me to pull myself out of so many things. Sure, my physical self holds the struggles of my youth, but I’m still alive, working with these health hassles and feeling pretty dern amazing regardless.
Wonderful article Lisa. I hope you write more of them and we can cheer you on because the information that is out there on this is absolute garbage.
It takes an absolute lifetime to heal, and even then, you may never heal completely and what right does anyone have in judging that! I have disagreed with SO many of these teachings and never embraced them myself. My mother even victim-blamed me for a ‘me too’ episode in my life, and it was such a cruel thing for me to live with, how do you pass that cruelty forward? I don’t get these people. Read a few books and become an online guru in three weeks. Pretty shameful really. Sometimes I felt that the biggest part of my job as a reader back in the day was just listening and being there for my peeps. I don’t understand these guilt-fueled approaches.
Thanks lilac-willow. Yes, healing continues all our lives and there is nothing wrong with that. Look around – See anybody perfect, anybody who has got their shit truly all together outside and in, ALL the time? Didn’t think so. It’s because we are HUMAN. Being there to just listen is very often the best thing we can do for each other.
Great article Lisa….good insight into PTSD. Do you have a book to recommend for beginners in Jung? Perhaps I should get myself as well informed as you obviously are. Thank you x
Thanks Jan. ‘Man and his symbols’ is great because it is written for the lay person rather than the psychology student or professional. x
Lisa – you are amazing. I can’t THANK YOU enough for shedding a light on these topics! You literally took the words right out of my mouth. As a fellow PTSD-survivor, there’s nothing more isolating when people around me gaslight me into thinking I have the option to “feel better”.
You know – my first response is ALWAYS…”Oh! Oh! Thanks! Because I HADN’T THOUGHT OF THAT ALREADY.” lol!
I think your suggestion of having healers know, at least, the basic rudimentary fundamentals of human psychology…is not only integral, it’s crucial. Thank you for bringing that up. I couldn’t agree with all of this more.
You really made me feel VALIDATED today, and I want to thank you for that. I see you as a voice of real truth. Namaste!
Thank you, Adam – I appreciate this feedback from a fellow PTSD survivor SO much! To know it made you feel validated means the world to me. xoxo
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
After having worked in mental health care, I’ve seen first hand the effects of people scarred and re-traumatized by providers who may be well meaning but aren’t trauma-informed. I have thought about this aspect of spirituality many times and you summarize everything I would want to say.
As tarot readers and other types of spiritualists it’s important that we understand these things so we too, don’t re-traumatize clients when they come to us, vulnerable. Nobody needs to use spirituality as a weapon
This is so good ❤️❤️❤️
Thanks, Jasmin – Glad you liked this ❤❤❤