There has been a sentiment of late, that I’ve heard from people who would consider themselves nonreligious and not really spiritual. It is that all the things that happen to you in life you draw to yourself. For some reason, deep in your psyche, whether you are sabotaging yourself or doubting yourself or hating yourself, these feelings bring about the bad things that happen to you. If you’re sick, it’s because the negative thoughts within you bring out the poisons. If your house falls into a crater after an earthquake, it’s because there is something in your karma that drew this to you.
I recall nearly getting in a fight with a friend over this. Instead we veered away and never talked about it again. If you can’t get a job, it’s not because you don’t have the training or the economy sucks, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough or you’re harboring some inner fear.
The positive side of this is that people take responsibility for their lives and actions. If something isn’t going right, examine yourself and your motives. I know people who believe the worst will happen to them and it does. It is as if they are a giant negativity magnet and they draw the worst people and the worst situations. So yes, like can attract like. Some of it is attitude and outlook. If you think that everyone is out to undermine you, then that’s what you’ll see. For some people, it’s a lifelong perspective. For others, it’s a trap that they fall into once in a while.
It’s the same idea that happens with many coincidences. When I had a red Honda Civic it seemed as if the road was festooned with red Honda Civics. We become sensitized to a certain view or aspect and then we will see it everywhere. If we think people are ignoring us and turning away, we won’t notice those who turn to us but only those who ignore us. It’s part of the problem with depression. As a person grows more depressed, his/heremotions flatten and things look dire, they can’t see the sun or the good things anymore–only the bad, the hopeless, the desperate.
So yes, mindset can change a lot about a person’s life and can affect physical health. But I doubt any one of us is powerful enough to either draw an earthquake or avert it, to stop lightning, to avoid an act of nature, to predict the path of a random murderer. We can be diligent and alert and cautious but we can’t protect against anything. And sometimes genetics dictate that a person will get a disease, no matter how healthy or happy they live. Of course, a healthier lifestyle might lessen the chances of the disease but it depends on the disease.
The near fight with my friend began with this sentiment that we are responsible for everything that happens to us. And I said, I cannot see how a little child of two who is raped and murdered could possibly bring that on themselves. Or a whole nation that his destroyed by a tsumnami…was that a mass bad attitude? No. If that were the case, we’d see a lot of nations wiped out because of what their governments do.
The negative side of the each of us being responsible for all that befalls us is that no one else has to take responsibility. Oh you were beaten. Well you probably brought it on yourself. You lost your job? Well it’s for a reason. It will make you grow. Worse than platitudes is this negation of caring. Every person doesn’t have to feel guilt or compassion because, well, it’s in your karma. You brought it all on yourself.
I’ve commented before on how I’m very saddened by the me-me-me culture of North America where the only thing that matters is self (or in some cases family) but that there is little consideration for one’s fellow human beings, nor is there much compassion. And that’s what this attitude does, it encourages a social cold shoulder to tragedy. I think there is a middle ground, a way to temper this.
Be responsible for your thoughts and deeds and if things aren’t going well, look at how you think and act. Look at what you might be able to change. But also, be reasonable. If someone’s relative is killed by a car, or their house catches fire, or a children is beaten, don’t turn away and say, “Well you will grow from this. There must have been something that made you attract this. There is something in you causing this.” If only we were so powerful, we could move mountains. But we are human and acts of nature and unnatural acts of human violence happen to people with no rhyme or reason.
Barbara Ehrenreich was interviewed on CBC about her book Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America and she makes some good points about positive thinking and how it can be negative. It covers some of what I’ve been talking about. http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2009/200910/20091015.html
All I know is that I hope to keep compassion in myself, not turn a blind eye, and help when I can with someone’s tragedy, and to not tell my friends to smile through it all when something devastating happens to them. And if I can’t do anything, I can be compassionate and lend a shoulder of support.