I feel like I’m taking a risk writing this, but I also feel compelled to create this article as a tarot practitioner and as someone who has been studying the metaphysical and esoteric for most of my life. This has the potential to be a long post, just to forewarn you, and it’s one in which I am not pulling any punches. I hate seeing good people getting taken advantage of by charismatic gold-crusted poo peddlers.
There is a lot of bullshit out there masquerading as truth, and a lot of it sounds true because it employs the dastardly manipulation of actually containing a small element of truth. So it will resonate on the surface, but when you really dig into it you’re like “well, that’s wrong logically/experientially/etc and actually a potentially a very harmful thing to adopt as a belief.”
The intuitive and esoteric arts require critical thinking. It is an essential component of not getting swindled or hitching your wagon to one of many false gurus.
Recently I heard a few clips by a speaker who said, “what if no one has ever broken your heart? They broke your expectations.”
Is that supposed to be a comforting thought? The statement implies that you shouldn’t have expectations of how others treat you, and it is a blatant invalidation of the emotions a person goes through when they have been betrayed.
The thing is, breaking your expectations is the same thing as breaking your heart. Expectations are boundaries and boundaries are a healthy and normal part of relationships. Boundaries are how we build safety, and maintaining boundaries fosters trust between people which is essential to good relationships. When someone violates a boundary, they damage the relationship. They violate your sacred trust and break your heart.
But that’s scary to say, and it hurts, and no one wants to hurt. It’s sterile and easily digestible to say instead that the other person “broke your expectations,” as if you haven’t just been emotionally maimed, as if you can just step carefully over it instead of working through it, and skip right to being healed. It’s also a sneaky way to blame yourself for someone else treating you like shit. If your spouse cheats on you or a loved one abuses you, that is breaking an expectation that they are safe for you. It’s good and healthy to have expectations of others treating you well. It’s not good and healthy to think, “well I’m hurting because I had expectations that they wouldn’t be terrible to me.”
I rolled my eyes really hard when I heard this speaker. This same speaker said that we attach our identity to the stories we tell, and he’s not wrong there. People do carry around outdated and limiting ideas of who they are, or superficial ideas of who they are. But the speaker used the example of someone in debt saying that they are in debt, as if that’s just a story the person tells. No. If you owe a bunch of money, you are actually, realistically, truly in debt. This is a truth of your situation until you pay off your debt. That story about your life doesn’t end just because you decide you want to detach from it. You have to actually do the work to detach from it by paying off your debt. If a person who was debt-free was still stuck in the mindset that they’re in debt, then yes, that’s a false and limiting story.
Eckhart Tolle has a theory of the “collective pain body” and pins PMS that women experience on it. He claims that PMS is the result of the historical suppression of women. But we have access to science, and we know that hormones directly influence emotion. So when my hormones fluctuate during PMS, it makes absolute sense that I would be more bitchy or sad depending on what’s happening in my body, especially considering that my body is literally shedding the lining of my uterus and that hormone fluctuations can cause migraines and nausea along with a myriad of other symptoms. I’m not carrying the baggage of the historical mistreatment and suppression of women as a whole in my own little uterus. My body doesn’t go through this monthly cycle as a result of oppression.
There is also, again, that underlying notion that there is something inherently wrong with feeling angry or sad or being especially emotional. It’s not egoic to feel the full range of human emotions. It’s egoic to pretend to be above it.
We do know that the stress we experience personally and individually, especially emotional stress, can and does have substantial correlation with the development of many autoimmune diseases and cancer. Unfortunately this leads to a greater likelihood of health issues for the communities of people who face the stresses of racism and discrimination today. There’s no indication or evidence, however, that we get sick or feel physical pain individually as a result of the collective mistreatment of others who lived before us.
These are just a few examples of the false teachings out there. Typically, they hinge on the philosophy of avoiding pain and the false philosophy that to be spiritual is to be above being human and experiencing “negative” feelings or pain. They prey on our insecurities and our desire to be fulfilled and happy. They bank on us not really knowing ourselves and buying into the idea that they have something we don’t.
The intuitive arts are about knowing yourself. You don’t need anyone else to tell you who you are or to teach you how to be fulfilled. You can’t become so spiritual that you feel no pain. That’s called disassociation, and it’s not healthy as a way of life. So: Test Everything. Think critically. Trust yourself. And remember:
“Life is pain. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” (The Princess Bride)