BS File #15: Circumstances are Neutral

The BS Files are kinda like the X-files – full of myths and urban legends and mysterious things. I feel that it is my duty to tackle them (occasionally). Because, you know, the truth is out there.

Case #15. Circumstances are neutral. Bullsh*t!

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, because I know I’ll get some backlash, which means I’ve been too chicken to take it on. But it is time, so here goes.

I was initially certified as a life coach by a school founded on the idea that circumstances are neutral. All of them. This school also teaches that it is our thoughts about the circumstances – and only our thoughts – that determine whether our experiences are positive or negative. Thoughts are always the problem. This premise of neutral circumstances is the foundation for a model about human behavior and a formula for creating personal change.

That never sat well with me. I couldn’t make myself believe it. I had to leave the cult. There’s more to that story, but I’ll save that for a chat over a cup of tea one day.

Here’s what’s wrong with the whole neutral circumstances thing:

First, there’s a flaw in the logic. The premise is that circumstances are neutral and our thoughts are the problem. Circumstances just are. They are facts. Therefore they must be neutral. They can’t hurt us until we think about them. Bullshit! That is not the only conclusion you can draw. (Don’t believe me? Run through a few examples in your own head and see if you think that neutral circumstances are the only option – try social injustice, human trafficking, child pornography if you want some dramatic examples.)

Second, Circumstances don’t have to be neutral for our thinking to create our experience.  That’s just laziness; it underestimates the power of the human mind.  My thoughts don’t make an event tragic, but my thoughts can absolutely make my experience of a tragedy into something that is transformative, motivating and ultimately a growth experience.

Third, a “neutral reality” implies that there is spiritual plane, no higher good. But there is! There is a guiding force in the universe – call it God, Source, the Universe, whatever your understanding – that pulls us all to be the highest and best version of ourselves. We are innately good. Things happen that wound us and change us and we don’t always act for the good. And we can recognize what is not good, and call it out. It’s a call to action. We don’t have to hide behind “neutral” because we are afraid.

There’s another implication. We have to deal with the eternal question, then – why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a difficult question, but I don’t think we can avoid it. There isn’t an easy answer. Neutral circumstances certainly aren’t the answer.

Sure, some circumstances are neutral. Sometimes we make problems where they don’t exists. Many problems are created because we interpret things in unhelpful or incorrect ways, and changing our thinking can make an enormous difference in our life. It’s more helpful to find those situations than it is to paint everything in a neutral beige-ish white-washy color. Pun absolutely intended.

Truth: All circumstances are not neutral. There’s a whole spectrum from amazingly wonderful through benign (aka neutral) and on to the horridly wrong. Circumstances don’t have to be neutral for our thoughts to shape our experience. But the universe is generally good.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,


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