What we're missing when we talk energy / law of attraction
Since quitting my job and deciding to go all in with this space, I've started taking the strategy behind writing a blog a little more seriously. And as all my blogging / online business friends know, a big part of building a strategy and creating high traffic content is zeroing in on your target audience... a task that caused me to take a step back and reflect on where I really want to go with this space.
Unlike most blogging niches, the people I want most to reach aren't hanging out online. They don't have time to like photos on Instagram or find my pins on Pinterest. They are in jail, they are on the mental health floors, they are panhandling on the side of the street, they are in and out of rehab, they are fleeing domestic violence.
I write for the sensitive souls who feel more than most can comprehend. I also write to inspire others to take their lives into their own hands so they can finally know peace and carry that peace forward to heal another. Through my writing I share my experiences to normalize what it means to use energy to heal because I know there are so many like me wondering why life is so hard. But those who feel most overwhelmed by the hurt on this planet, and those most need of tools like the law of attraction, are living the result of a system that failed them and not here to read my work.
They are living the result of a system that didn't understand them because it didn't value the IMMENSE strength it takes to be sensitive in a world that is anything - but. They are living the result of a system that is so strategically designed to maintain a divide between the privileged and the oppressed; the rich and the poor; the healthy and the unwell. The people I most want to reach are the people who dropped out of school because they didn't fit in, they couldn't work in most traditional jobs (and especially not entry level jobs) because of their sensitivity and are now on social support. They are in abusive relationships or so bogged down because they had no choice but to turn to addictions or shut their curtains and close the world out completely. The people I want most to reach are trying so hard to defend themselves, their people and their experiences in a world that just doesn't understand that they don't have time to read about energy sensitivity, living intentionally / the law of attraction, or come to this space to have their experiences normalized.
The people I most want to reach are too busy surviving. And that's difficult for me because I know genuine conversations about energy can even the playing field and change the lives of so many.
Energy is real. Energy sensitivity is real. The ability to manifest our desires by overcoming our limiting beliefs is real. My realization of this is so strong that I've put my professional reputation on the line to talk about it. But while there is truth in the idea that owning our experiences, learning to clear and align our energy, and intentionally increasing our vibration is 'the Secret' to strong mental health and the life of our dreams, it's insulting to suggest those who are living the result of an oppressive system are where they are because they haven't taken the 'right' steps.
It's insulting because this life we live isn't fair.
Though I've been hit with some incredibly tough life lessons, as a white, middle-class, cis-gendered, heterosexual, able-bodied, english-speaking, settler woman, my life has been relatively easy. Though I wasn't fully understood as a child / adolescent, I was nurtured and encouraged to be my best self. When I was at my lowest and couldn't work, my parents were able to take me in and support me so I didn't have to go on social support. I was able to get healthy because I had access to a therapist who understood my worldview and I could afford high vibration; the green juices, the Reiki. I also had a world of relevant resources at my fingertips because I had access to a computer and the Internet. I was able to get intentional about my life because there were people who looked like me and sounded like me talking about what it was I was experiencing. I grew up to Gabrielle Bernstein, another white-middle class woman. I saw myself in her and knew I could reach her heights. If I was in a different body would I have felt the same way? I've overcome hardship and I've gotten myself into a space that's beyond anything I could have imagined a few years ago, but I'm where I am because of the body and situation I was born into and it is important I acknowledge this.
Just today I was walking down the street when a salesperson standing outside an aromatherapy shop stopped me to offer me a quick sales pitch. She targeted me because I embody "healing" - I look, talk, walk, dress, eat like the majority of the self-help community. The 'spirit junkies', the 'truth bombers', the #goodvibesonly. I use the language, I take the yoga breaths (though I don't personally practice yoga), I used to 'smudge'. I have essential oils and crystals. I am THAT person who is all over Instagram promoting 'intentional living' and the energetic reality available to us all, and being that person is an unearned luxury that is maintaining the divide I know all too well as a social worker.
Being that person is setting a norm of what it means to heal, be successful, and 'self-help', a norm that's missing the voices and experiences of so many. Being that person is helping the rich get richer and the powerful get more powerful.
And I'm really sad about it.
The Dalai Lama is credited with saying, "the world will be saved by the Western woman" and I know he didn't mean by going to yoga class, drinking green juice and sending light and love. He meant by stepping outside of our victim mentalities, educating ourselves on our privilege (our privilege of being white, middle-class, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied, english-speaking, settler WOMEN) and leaning into the discomfort of moving past our comfortable lives to do what we can, from where we are, to bring the health, balance and success we have because of our unearned power to those missing from the self-help conversation.
That's not to say a self-care practice, green juice and sending love and light is not a good thing, it is. It SO is. We have to look after our own hearts and bodies to have the capacity to look out for others. It is to say though, that once we do these things we have a duty to go further.
The Dalai Lama was asking us to use our personal experiences of oppression as women to connect with and acknowledge the oppression of others. He was asking us to take note of how we are supported, how the many aspects of our social location; our race, ability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, language give us the one up to show up. To really check ourselves and ask ourselves the challenging questions about how we spend our days. To acknowledge our power as women but never use our power as women to put another being down, and instead become so strong in ourselves and our worth that we don't have to shift a power dynamic in an opposite direction to feel powerful. The Dalai Lama was asking us to keep our sights set on the oneness of our world but never use 'we are all one' as an excuse to overlook the power dynamics clearly at play in our world.
He wanted us to truly step outside the idealism that focusing on ourselves is how the world heals and ground into the reality that when we focus on ourselves, and those just like us, we are being ignorant to so many.
Something I've found since stepping out into this blogging world is a need to fit my work into a spiritual box. There is a certain amount of 'spirituality' we are allowed to talk about and we go further, it's premise for someone to suggest we need intervention. How far we can go with our spirituality is rooted in privilege. This is documented throughout mental health literature; one study pointing out that black men, the demographic shown in the study to have the strongest faith and connection to God, also had the highest rates of schizophrenia. White women from the self-help world who are just as passionate about something Higher than themselves had the lowest. This is racism and a perfect example of the privilege us white, middle-class women have in our world because of the self-help world that has emerged. We are free to talk openly about our experiences, and create communities because of our experiences, without facing a diagnosis, being labelled crazy or have anyone question what we are doing.
I'll never forget being in school and meeting *Ben* a 35-year old black man living with schizophrenia who looked me in the eyes and said: "Robin, why is it that 20-something white women can talk about their "angels", "guides" and their lives on other plants, and when I do, I am labelled mentally ill?" I didn't have an answer then, but feel much stronger in my message and finally feel safe saying, Ben, it's because we are more privileged than we have ever stopped criticizing to believe.
As women, ESPECIALLY as white women with the privilege to yoga, green juice and have Instagram accounts dedicated to living intentionally and sending light and love, we have an immense amount of unearned power and need to be accountable to it so we can show up to truly "be the change" we say we are being in our Instagram posts. That change looks different for each of us, our social location is just one aspect of who we are; we all have our unique personalities, skill-sets, and experiences, and we can all show up, get uncomfortable and step outside of the safe box we've grown accustomed to to empower others and even this playing field.
Over the past few months I've been experiencing past life visions and though I have a blog devoted to energy, I couldn't bring myself to write about them. In fact, if we are being honest, experiencing my past life visions really messed me up. I can talk law of attraction, I can talk empaths, but openly talking past lives, especially past lives where I was a different social location and a past life where I abused so many? I feared that was a gateway for the intervention I mentioned above. I'm woowoo, but not that woowoo. I make people think, but I don't make them think too much that it feels shaky or unsafe. And I can do this because I'm a white, middle-class woman who is educated and english-speaking. Because #goodvibesonly, #lightandlove and the white-washing of yoga and the appropriation of Indigenous practices like smudging have made it safe for me to talk about energy and benefit from energy laws without ever being accountable to anyone other than myself.
As a middle-class woman who is university-educated and english speaking I have the status and skill-set to share my experience without *very much criticism* and have others listen and be influenced by it. This is responsibility.
And I want to take this responsibility further.
A lot of people drawn to my site tell me how beautiful I am as a person, how I am doing amazing things for this world and how my bravery is admirable. But I don't feel brave at all. Showing up is easy for me because there are so many like me showing up too.
Bravery is the woman living in a shelter who found the strength to e-mail me while using to ask for help. Bravery is the men who reach out sharing their depth with me and owning their emotions and how their emotions sometimes show up in scary ways or not at all. Bravery is the African American woman who told me she was afraid of talking about her true limiting beliefs, because as a white woman I wouldn't understand. Bravery is the homeless man I saw sleeping on the street who gets up every single day to face this world that is content with keeping him down.
Bravery is *Ben* for getting critical and asking why.
When I talk living intentionally / the law of attraction, I talk limiting beliefs because from an energetic standpoint, it's our beliefs that keep us from the life we want. When I say this though, I say it with understanding that the limiting beliefs I have to overcome as a 20-something privileged white woman is no where near the limiting beliefs someone from another social location might have to overcome to get to the same place. From an energetic perspective we can all spend our days on the beach and we can all have an abundance of money to spend on the causes closest to our hearts, but an energetic perspective isn't yet real life. Real life isn't fair and 'using the law of attraction' isn't as simple as most suggest, especially when you're marginalized. Believing you have power when you've been systematically taught you're powerless is not a mindset changed with a worksheet and a few deep breaths. Getting to the bottom of limiting beliefs can be traumatizing, facing our deepest fears about where we fit in this world and what we are capable of can debilitate us. And sometimes our limiting beliefs aren't even ours and instead are the beliefs of generations and generations of those who came before us who were brutalized because of the vessel in which they were carried through this physical experience.
When I talk increasing our vibrations and when I share content that highlights why vibrations are most important, I am missing something even more important. I'm missing that having time / space to consider my vibration is PRIVILEGE. When I talk sensitivity and the importance of being in our own space to be in our own energy and the importance of having strong boundaries and saying no to anything that doesn't feel good to be around, I say it with full awareness that having your own space and having the ability to stay no, especially to things like jobs and lifestyles that aren't suitable is not yet possible for most people.
When I say all of this I'm speak from a place of idealism but not realism, and I'm going to get even more mindful of it so I can show up differently.
Through this site I have the honour of working with amazing people who hold a lot of power as doctors, nurses, lawyers, social workers, and more, and as we talk I get overwhelmed (in a really good way) thinking about the future and what it might be because of the positions of power these sensitive souls hold. As I support these people through the blocks they have around the lives they are wanting to call in, I get excited by the idea that the lessons they are learning might be passed down to the people they are in contact with every day. I see doctors grounding a diagnosis in optimism and using their influence in their communities to get creative about meeting their low-income patient's basic needs, I see social workers taking their client appointments outside on the grass and holding crystals to reduce the anger they feel for the actions of people who have no other choice, I see lawyers waiving consultation fees and understanding a missed appointment is rarely intentional. I see shelters opening up quiet rooms, and mental health floors adding in higher vibrational foods, more hands-on activities like arts and body work and asking patients to talk, really TALK, about what they are experiencing instead of dismissing it as unreal by default of westernized 'proof'.
I see women from all over creating safe spaces for men to show up as their sensitive selves too.
I see this and this makes me cry, because until we (us privileged people and especially us privileged women with communities of people listening) truly understand privilege and oppression and how power is contextual, and until we get proactive about creating safety and supports for all the world's people, not just those like us, the world will never change. Until the world's oppressed have the foundations, the medical care, the case management / support, the legal insight, a place to sleep and be quiet with their thoughts, physical nourishment for their bodies, someone to LISTEN, they will never be able to get intentional and they will never be able to catch up or get ahead, and we (us consciously practicing and promoting energy and energy laws) need to realize this.
Until all people have a safe space and a strong foundation, the abundant world will stay in the hands of the already abundant and those living the result of our oppressive systems will never be able to create the life that is energetically available to them.
Our personal energies (how we feel, think, spend our days) create our reality. This is fact, and all of us in this self-help world know this because we've lived it. We took control of our energies, re-aligned them with the life we wanted, and started calling in the life we want to live. But to suggest the world's most vulnerable people can do the same (right now, as it is) is ignorance. Though manifestation is very much an individualized process, those of us with power need to show up and find ways to make it a group effort. We need to find way to use the health, happiness and abundance that we've manifestated, and continue to manifest, to even the playing field. It's the only way our planet will heal and this abundant world will know equality.
Something I could never understand growing up is why I'm in the body I'm in. Or why I've have the parents I have, or even, why English is my first language. It felt weird and unearned and the thought used to consume me. The body I'm in fits in, especially here in the West, and because of the standards that have been socially constructed, it's easy for me to talk openly about energy and how I use it in my day-to-day life. The green juices, the meditation, the chakra realignment, the positive thinking quotes, I do it all, and I'm finally at a place of realizing this is OK so long as I make sure to step back and be accountable for the immense amount of privilege I have to be able to live a life like this. I've come to accept it is OK so long as I use the health, balance, power and influence I've created with the help of my privilege to creatively create health, balance, power and influence for others too.
As someone of privilege I have a duty to acknowledge what's really going on and work from my place of unearned power to level the playing field for those born into different experiences. All of us white, middle class, heterosexual, cis-gendered, able-bodied, english-speaking, settler women practicing and promoting self-help / the law of attraction do.
Though I don't know what this will look like across my lifetime, for now I've started offering free mentorship for those who can't afford it. These are people living the result of our systems. I've also started building up a shop (to be started towards the end of the summer, hopefully!) of heart-centered artists and crafters to create an affiliate program where all proceeds (on this site's end) go to creating nature-based youth-led programs for inner city youth who have never truly touched their feet to soil so they too can benefit from the vibrations Mother Nature has to offer.
I know these are only small changes but they are changes in the right direction because they are changes rooted in the awareness I have of my privilege and how its gotten me where I am today. I have a space to create small informed change and I'm going to use it.
And I hope you do too. We have to use what we've been given to give to others.
Struggle with self-care?
I send a weekly self-care reminder every Wednesday with real-life tips for putting you (and your energy) first.
I'm all for women empowerment, women circles, and the use of spiritual tools (like the law of attraction) to assist with the healing of the white, middle-class self-help community, but as a feminist and someone who sees energy as all encompassing and not something to only be used to help the already powerful, I need to see more of the women I follow through social media and the self-help world recognizing intersectionality. I need to see them say, 'Hey, maybe my life isn't really that bad. Maybe I'm not that oppressed after all, not when you put it in context like that" and then take responsibility for the growth and potential of all beings, not just those who look, talk, dress, move, eat like them. I need to see women in positions of power, who are using energy and energy laws to better their own lives to think critically about how they could teach, share, guide, and support others, others who might not use the same "language" or be able to offer a like, a follow or profit. I need to see ALL women using the divine power they say they have to nurture, inspire and uplift everyone, regardless of their gender, sex, race, economy, ability, language or status.
I need to see this self-help world / energy conversation become a lot less selfish and a lot less limiting. I need to see this because right now we live in a world of immense polarity and the only way to close that gap is to be intentional bridges.
Back to that niche I started this post talking about. Though the majority of my audience is white, middle-class, cis-gendered, heterosexual, able-bodied, english-speaking, settler woman (because that's what I am), I'm here to hold space for all people (all genders, all races, all abilities, all languages, all statuses, all sexual orientations, all belief systems) if they want space held for them. I'm here to use my experience as a human being to guide anyone wanting to take control of their energy so they can share the health, balance and wealth they accumulate to support others in doing the same. I'll continue to encourage my readers to overcome their limiting beliefs so they can be their best selves, but I'll never allow my reader's best selves to be their fullest potential; I'll ask they show up to be more.
I'll continue to acknowledge my privilege and inspire others to do the same. I won't dull my edge or support to support the polarity of this world to to sell more, have more followers, or build a safer, more successful business / brand.
I'm going to be real and I'm going to be accountable to injustice.
What voices aren't being heard in the sensitivity / self-help conversation?
How can you, from where you are, show up and hold space to hear them?
What can you do from where you are, using what you have, to even the earth's playing field?
How can you move outside a victim mentality to recognize your privilege so you can use your unearned power to support ALL others in being powerful too?
These are the important questions.
Keeping us all accountable,