Suffering, blame & responsibility

This morning this quote caught my attention, it was discussed on another blog that I follow and because I'm in the midst of meditating on this subject for my yoga practice and in my personal life, I decided to share my own thoughts about it.

“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

Blame yourself for your poor life. I don't think I would ever say that to someone... Although I know I said it to myself more than once. It seems rather harsh and uncompassionate to blame ourselves for the things that happen to us. It can't be true that suffering, physical or mental illness, trauma, disasters, or poverty are all our own fault. To just say: "Well, think positive and all will change", that's just not right, is it? To deny the existence of suffering by only focussing on and sprinkling light and love on everything is a way of spiritual bypassing and avoidance of the pain. And however I feel blessed in so many ways, and most of us are, nobody can escape suffering.

The truth is, we ARE the creators of our lives. Although we can't decide what happens to us, we can choose how to feel, what to think or how to (re)act. In every bit of suffering also lies a gem. Sometimes it's very very small. Seeing the smile of a child after losing everything. Feeling the warmth of the sun at a bedside window of a sick loved one. Remembering the one time we felt truly held. Noticing a flower grow on the ruins of a burnt down home. Helping someone in a troublesome situation.

Those are the things that make us truly happy, that enrich our lives.

This is often forgotten in our world and herein lies the greatest source of suffering. Because deep down we know that we are the directors of our lives. But somehow, we feel disempowered, small, weak, sick, fragile, victimized. And we know deep down we are not to blame for life happening to us as well. So we choose to seek the cause of the suffering outside of us and not changing perspective. This is where we give our power away.

Instead of 'blaming' ourselves for not changing our reactions to the suffering we experience, we turn our blame towards others and make them into the very source of our suffering. This is polarity and this leads to separation, disconnection, and conflict.

We shouldn't blame others for what life throws at us. However, we are permitted to set boundaries when we are treated badly or when the behavior of other people is hurtful or leaves us scarred, shattered or destroyed. Likewise, when we are the blamed and made guilty by people who are seeking a perpetrator for their drama or life events, boundary setting needs to happen. This is key to protecting your sovereignty and your personal power. You don't have to take everything in out of gratitude for the lessons that are learned. To protect yourself and out of self-love and self-care, you shouldn't be forcing yourself to look for the gem in a garbage bin. 

We don't have to blame ourselves for what happens to us like there is no sense in blaming others. Both lead to more suffering and separation. But we can blame ourselves for only looking at destruction, pain, negativity, difficulty and lose track of the things that really matter to us, which is very personal and can't be defined by conventions, myths or societal rules.

When caught up in drama, caged by rules, not free to change direction or perspective, hearts close. We lose love and connection, to self and others, and that loss is the greatest suffering of all.

To heal from this, it is necessary to change perspective, see the gifts and express gratitude for what you have in your life, and to set boundaries to protect your sovereignty.

That's how we can be the poet to call forth our lives' riches.