Is this life of mine my fault?

“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Lovelies, I received a very thought-provoking question recently in regard to the quote from Rainer Maria Rilke at the top of this post, and I wanted to address it here on my blog. Like many things in life there is no simple answer, and as it is a question I have asked myself over and over again in this lifetime I wanted to share my response.

Here’s the excellent question:

Good morning,
Mine is a question Nicole that troubles me.
I always love the captions/snippets from other writers under your lovely images and this morning’s starts with ” if your daily life seems poor don’t blame it” 
My question is how does this fit with all the poor souls born into or find themselves in shocking conditions they have no control over such as absolute poverty, war, famine, abusive families?
How have they created this? How can it possibly be their fault?
These questions have troubled me because they don’t seem to fit into the positive thinking or “ask and it shall be given” brackets. Can your guides help with some clarity here ?
Thank you for your blogs, they have been part of my day for years now.
Elle xx

As many of you know my life has had its share of troubles, pain and obstacles. When I was young and idealistic I thought that this suffering was unfair. Why did I have these problems when friends of mine seemed to be floating along on a cloud of joy, love, support and happiness?

But looking into the window of the life of another never truly tells you what is going on. I have found, through life experience and in my decades of working as a psychic and mentor, that all of us have troubles and many of these are invisible to those around us.

Throughout my life, in an attempt to heal, I have also explored every possible avenue including much time spent in trying to undo, rectify or heal any wrong-doing, thought or action I may have taken that may have led to my suffering.

Goodness, how mean I have been to myself – blaming myself for my circumstances and believing that this suffering was all my fault.

War, famine, drought, accidents, random acts of violence and horror, abusive relationships, terrible illnesses. Did we sign up for these? Much of the New Age movement would have us think so. Works such as the book ‘You can heal your life’ and the philosophy of the Law of Attraction make it easy to buy into the concept that any problems or suffering in our lives are a direct result of our karma, our thoughts and our attitudes. Perhaps we even chose suffering as part of our ‘contract’ in coming here to this life.

I have seen the dramatic recent rise of shaming of people who actually need our empathy and support – people with issues as diverse as addictions, autistic children, staying in a marriage with a partner who has mental health issues, cancer, chronic illness, depression, or displacement from their country due to war. Human kindness is too often replaced by judgement from those fortunate enough to not be in the same circumstances. Rise up, they say. Change your thoughts. Juice vegetables. Go vegan. Wear a crystal. Parent better. Use less chemicals. Make different choices. Have more discipline. Heal your past lives!

(Want to read more on this theme? My Sad Unicorns post covers this ‘dangerous magical thinking’ problem in detail.)

I’ve seen mothers told that their young children’s illness is the result of past-life religious transgressions. I’ve listened as people have judged someone with cancer for having caused it by not having a clean lifestyle. Yes, it’s true that there are lifestyle factors involved with many illnesses, including cancer. But that’s not the whole picture. I’ve watched friends who are vegans, vegetarians, yoga instructors – every possible thing that you could consider the epitome of a healthy, anti-cancer chemical-free loving and natural lifestyle be struck down and taken by cancers, savagely and fast.

Dear Elle, yours is an excellent question, and this is what I believe. Life is difficult and wonderful and dangerous and fraught with risk. Things happen for which we will never find a reason. People in power make decisions that affect millions. Accidents and mistakes happen. Weather patterns change. Our genetics hands us a bad card or wild one. Illnesses occur and we don’t yet have the science to interpret and understand them fully. And none of that is our fault. If we look wider we see that this is also true for plants and animals and places. No-one and nothing is immune to suffering, desecration, destruction or death.

So what does that have to do with Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote? I think this quote is more about how we cope with life’s suffering than our thoughts as a causative agent of that suffering. I believe that there is one thing we do have control over. We can choose how we feel, how we react, what we think. In even the most difficult of lives we can find tiny windows of calm, of nurture, of beauty, and small moments of grace and gratitude. That is one of the gifts of suffering – it can promote mindfulness and with mindfulness comes an opportunity to mentally lift ourselves out of impossible pain and hardship for a short while. It gifts us resilience, and meaning and a way to endure.

I hope that helps,

Much love, Nicole xx

The Power of Sharing Our Shames

Dreamtime Sisters by Colleen Wallace Nungari

Dreamtime Sisters by Colleen Wallace Nungari

“Shame is a soul eating emotion.”
~ C.G. Jung

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
~ Brené Brown


We did something very powerful yesterday, here at our retreat.

Earlier in the day we’d been doing some journalling, looking at our triggers and the things that upset, angered or depressed us. Bravely the women asked themselves questions and moved deeper and deeper into that place of self-knowing.

It was confronting. Challenging.

From there we began to name and examine the major obstacles in our lives.

Oh, how hard that was.

Many of the women quietly sought me out to ask questions or share some painful revelation.

And there was one common theme that ran through every conversation, although the subject matters varied greatly.

That theme was shame.

Just before we finished for the day, as we sat in our circle around our beautiful crystal mandala, I asked those women to be brave, and to share one of their shames within the group.

The courage of these women was remarkable, as they bravely bared their hearts to each other, and held a space of trust, love and deep acceptance.

There were shames over marriages, lost and broken relationships, addictions and family dramas. Shames about mothering, illness, depression, debt, and shames over choices or behaviours that were deeply regretted.

As each woman shared her shame many of us nodded. Or cried. That shame our sister shared could have been ours. So many of us held that same heavy stone inside our hearts.

Image from Getty

Image from Getty

Gradually the energy of the group shifted.

There was an easing.

A gentle opening and transformation.

Who would have thought that someone else felt the same way we did? That someone else had addiction in their family, or found motherhood unfulfilling – although they loved their children, or was isolated from their parents or siblings and was dreading Christmas. Who would have known that someone else had totally screwed up a relationship or struggled with money issues when they were meant to be examples of business success?

As the voicing of shames ended, a new energy came into the group. We began sharing stories of encouragement and support. One woman, swamped and belittled by her shame, would be given helpful and meaningful advice by someone who’d been through that same thing. Another, overwhelmed by her situation, would be helped by women who could see a clear way forward for her because they weren’t in that place of emotional overload.

In that circle of support and sharing, shames were transmuted and lost their power.

Those dark secrets we hold inside us rob us of our ability to feel joy, to move forward, to be our best selves. They make a lie of every good thing that comes our way. They hold us in a place that has no real truth for us, tainting our futures and stealing our possibilities.

Those shames we most fear to share are the ones which most need to be released and shared within a supportive environment – a place where we can be met with empathy and kindness.

Oh the magic that happens when those heavy burdens of shame are shared and released!

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