When difficult things happened in my life, I used to think that it was my fault. I was not a good enough person. I wasn’t grateful enough for all the blessings in my life including the hard things. I wasn’t a smart enough student of life to figure out the secret practices to keep me safe from heartbreak.

Excerpt from Laura’s book Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving and Living Free

Shame and blame are like the invisible air we breathe, the water in which we swim. Sitting alone in a room, a person might shame and blame herself with chasing-tail thoughts running through her mind. This worn-out strategy could look something like the following:

If I blame shame myself for a couple of hours while sipping my tea, then I will have created two hours of billable protection from crud happening tomorrow.

And better yet, if I blame shame in my mind-my neighbors for getting lung cancer from all their smoking, then I will not ever get any type of cancer.

Oh, if I blame shame the meat-eaters for climate change, then I have protection points against a hurricane ever flooding the house I built in a flood plain in North Carolina! Wait! This is getting interesting!

If I shame blame the boss, who hated me ten years ago, for every bad choice I’ve ever made including marrying ole what’s his name, then I’d accumulate the motherload of shielded protection from job loss, hair loss, saggy skin, and my children, and grandchildren ever getting some weird disease!   

More brilliant strategies include: I could write a thousand thank you notes, journal five hours a day about all the things I am grateful for, create 400 vision boards, oh, and drink only filtered water for 40 days.

We, humans, want control. We humans are not in control. Yet, many of us want this so badly that we create strategies for appearing to be “in control”.

I earnestly believed blaming and shaming myself, and these other practices would create a protective shield around my heart and save the life of my dog, the people I love, still love, will always love. 

Like a deluded superhero, I began to look like a caped cartoon character who had put an end to random, uncomfortable, or difficult happenings according to my checking-it twice lists of the same.

After years of direct experiences of random, unexpected, challenging, super uncomfortable, even some would call heinous happenings, none of which I saw coming, wished for, or had nightmare premonitions about—these events did not stop because I had the full motherload of shame and blame protection and affirmations flowing through my head.

If shame and blame of the self (aka self-beat up) and gratitude journals bought protection from hard happenings, I’d be skipping along easy-street with all of my best friends. I may have even pulled some of my ancestors out of purgatory to enjoy many more long, vibrantly healthy, delicious, rich years of life.

Okay, I am going to break it to you gently. All kinds of things in life happen for  good, kind, caring, loving people, including you and me. Another fact, self-judgment of the inner critic kind, digs deeper holes into darkness rather than a ladder to lean against the fence to get out of this place.

Shame and blame have taught me they don’t work to protect me from heartache or difficult experiences.

Responding to life happenings from my core values of love, compassion, and courage (among several others) frees me from the prison of shame and blame or “I didn’t create enough vision boards!”

Feeling the many feels of emotional pain of past and present human experiences and detaching from the “I demand this, not that”, are paths to freedom.

Some of us came here to learn wisdom lessons from a whole lot of storms. Some of us came here to learn to be compassionate, gracious, and loving towards your neighbor and to love your neighbor as yourself. Some of us came here to party all night long. Some of us came to evolve ourselves from the grit and grow into joyous people no matter what happens during our lifetime.

Remember even Jesus wasn’t eating a delicious meal of smoked salmon with capers, basmati rice, broccoli, and sipping a glass of Merlot while anticipating a dessert of cheesecake with fresh strawberries when he died. And as best as I can gather, he responded to people, to life happenings with a great deal of compassion, love, and care.

Some of the most loving and kind people I have known have died an awful and untimely death. Being there with them, for them as best as I could, has taught me the humility to love while I am here and to care about myself and other people because life is short and too precious to be spent on ineffective, worn-out, exhausting, used up, constricting reactions.

Using your life energy to cultivate grace, inner peace, and direct experiences of empathy can be human and humane ways to live your life. Your ego-personality likely will thank You and your soul for the liberation from an impossible task.

May you free yourself to love. 


The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.