Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Happy Wednesday! New Age Bullying?

Hi All,
Welcome to a special edition of Mystic Monday on a Wednesday.  The following is written by Rebecca Borowske a great friend of mine who is a Reiki Master and a holistic practitioner.

Some people may have seen this post going around Facebook and I would like to highlight how incredibly damaging some of these techniques are to a person. I also realize how controversial some of these points are because they are questioning widely accepted beliefs: You create your world and everything "bad" is because of you. I'll be taking each point individually and talking about some instances that have happened to me where such behavior was exhibited. The last part of 2015 was particularly hard for me: from about March-ish until nearly November I was suffering from a deep depression. I was working too much and burning out hard. I became very internal and introspective. I was in a really bad friendship that I later found to be emotionally manipulative and abusive. I never really thought it was at first because they believed in many of the same things I did. They also did energy work like me. I'll be calling them Tracy. I have no desire to slam them or their business publicly and also don’t wish to identify them as male or female. They are still very active in my local community. I’ll let the universe decide what should or shouldn’t happen to them and their business (it’s not my place to decide).  I'll be using them as an example a lot to give you an idea about the kind of damage such techniques can do to a person.

Let me get something out of the way first: I believe in energy. I believe in karma. I believe that when you have a positive outlook on life, you will see more positive things in your life. I believe in being responsible for your energy. I recognize my beliefs under the pagan umbrella. I have an altar. I use tarot and other divination tools. I even consider myself psychic on most days. I believe that when you ask the universe for help, you will get guidance. I don’t believe in treating people like shit under the guise of a spiritually advanced person.

The first point: If something 'negative' happens to you, it's because you created it.
In the new age community there are strong opinions about the Law of Attraction (aka LoA). The LoA, overly simplified, states that like attracts to like. For example, if I radiate lots of loving energy all the time, I will receive loving energy. I must only produce positive energy and feelings, then I will be able to receive only positive energy and feelings. In the same vein, if you radiate only what are perceived as 'negative' feelings, that it what will be reflected back at you. These emotions include sadness, anger, worthlessness, etc.  I fully believe that it does you an injustice to only fully emerge yourself in positive emotions. If you bury anger, sadness, grief, etc. because you believe it will hurt your chances of having a happy life, it will eventually find a way out. This might turn into depression, rage, anxiety, etc. This also ends up causing a fear of being able to fully be yourself because you're not perfect: you need to be better than you are. The belief is that if you allow yourself to show these 'negative' emotions that you're showing your inability to "rise above" these horrible parts of being human. The funny of this is that many people who move to new age beliefs were raised in a Christian environment, myself included. In the Christian community there is a large fear that if you do not become the perfect human according to guidelines set forth from the Bible and clergy, you will be damning yourself to Hell. This is no different in the New Age community: if you don't raise your awareness and move away from 'negative' emotions, you will lead a life full of sadness, loss, grief, anger, and you'll never know what it's like to live as a fully enlightened being. The other reality is that there's no way to avoid emotions. One day someone you know is going to die. The grief and sadness you will experience is not because you're being a negative person. This is life. Your car didn't die because you're a horrible person. Your car didn't turn on because the battery is dead. These things happen. The food in your fridge didn't go back because of your negative vibes. Your company didn't downsize and you lost your job because you "accidentally" thought something "negative" towards someone who treated you poorly.

So what does this have to do with abuse and bullies in real life situations?
Telling someone that something "negative" happened because of their negativity shows a lack of support as they move through a difficult situation. It also tells this person that they deserve it. It is victim blaming. It might send them into a deeper depression, experience more intense anxiety, etc. It tells them that they shouldn't experience the emotions they are feeling and will stop their emotional process. It destroys relationships and communities. It causes isolation and lack of trust. It may also cause a lack of trust in their own intuition or feelings. This is no different than telling they deserved to be raped or they deserved to be hit (in domestic violence situations) because they caused it. "You made me hit you." This is called gaslighting.

This is what happened to me:
As I stated above, I was going through a deep depression. I have a very difficult time talking about my emotions, especially if I'm in the midst of experiencing them. I won't tell someone I'm drowning in my emotions today, please come talk to me. I had explained this to Tracy. Sometimes I would sit at dinner, nibble a few bites of food, and just stare at my plate. Every time we saw each other Joe would ask how work was. My response was often along the lines of, "it was work," "it sucked," "it was a day," or "it was fine." If I admitted I was having a bad day, Tracy would ask why it was awful. Many of the reasons why I didn't have a good day at work were the same or similar. I would start listing the reasons. After one or two sentences, I could see Tracy stopped listening. Sometimes they   would roll their eyes. I could see they  were too busy focusing on what they wanted to say rather than listening to me. Before I could finish talking about the awful parts of my day they would interrupt me. They would then ask me what was good about my day. They would also tell me that I'm focusing too much on the negative and just drawing more negative towards me. This was why I would have bad days at work or experiencing depression. They would also tell me that if I would quit being so negative, I could get over my depression. Keep in mind that during depression, sometimes people feel like their emotions don't matter, their opinions are invalid, and they're just not worth being around. By telling me that I just need to quit being negative, it was all my fault, and they only wanted to hear about the good parts of my day, they really validated my already low opinion of myself at the time. They were telling me my depression wasn't worth worrying about, they didn't care about me unless I was happy (or "got over" my depression), my day didn't matter unless it was a good day, my feelings weren't important, I'm not good enough to be around unless I found "positive" things to talk about, and that maybe, just maybe, everyone would be better off if I wasn't around. It made me feel like what I was going through wasn't as complicated as I was making it. Maybe I was really causing this. Is this real? Am I making it worse? Is this all in my head? Why am I causing this?
As a result, I was often feel even more low by the end of this 15 minute interaction. I lost my trust in being able to tell Tracy anything. Sometimes I just wanted to vent about how awful my day was because it was on my mind. All I wanted was someone to listen to me and know someone cared enough about my day to acknowledge something as simple as "that sucks." If they couldn't listen to how awful my day was, they didn't deserve to know how great some of my days were. The communication broke down (which I was told later was also my fault) and any chance of having a trusting friendship again was lost. Any progression I had with my depression was stopped and reversed. I was back where I started.
But Tracy was a well-known person in the new age and holistic communities! They wouldn't make me feel so bad purposely, right? Do they know I felt worse when they did that? (He did. I had explained it to them before). They care about me though, right? There was that time they knew I was about to get my period and bought me chocolate. They care…right? Were they right that it was all my fault? What was I doing to cause this? Stop. The short answer is I probably won't ever know if they knew they were being abusive. I can't even be sure that they ever really cared about me. The best bit of advice I heard from my sister was if I had to defend their poor interactions by the few times we had good interactions, there's something wrong. I repeat: If someone acts horribly towards you 100 times, that is not negated by the 2 times they acted sincerely. Just because they call themselves spiritual and enlightened, it does not mean they aren't able to abuse or bully. Just because something "negative" happens to you doesn't mean it's an excuse for someone to treat you like crap. I didn't see how awful Tracy was until someone (mostly my sisters) pointed it out to me. Another point is that Tracy doesn't act like this with only friends. I've seen how their clients hang on their every word. They have convinced the clients that their word is the only right way to fix things, and that they are an expert. They also tell clients the reason something happened is because the client’s energy called for it. The client’s energy caused this bad thing to happen. I am convinced they don't care about their clients; they only care about being the one to "fix" them to feed their need to be worshiped. Luckily for me, they never "fixed" me. All of their attempts failed. I have never been more grateful for this. I have found my support in other people both in and out of the new age community. Friends, family, and co-workers have been amazing in supporting me. All of these wonderful people have been supportive me writing these posts.
Part 2 coming soon to a blog near you.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome blog and I can't wait to read more! thank you so much Rebecca for sharing your story.