It’s a common belief that karma means that if you do good things, good things will happen to you. If you do bad things, bad things will happen to you. But it's really not that direct or simple.
One of the first things I work with my clients on (and had to work on myself for quite some time) is the absolute confusion that follows the end of a toxic relationship.
It really does feel like the world has been turned on its ear, and we don’t know which way is up. We can be made to feel like we were the ones at fault for everything that went wrong in the relationship, especially when this fits our ex-partner’s finely crafted narrative that makes them the victim.
So, when we see them move on sooo fast, see them soooo “in love” with a new person on social media or living their best life without us, we find ourselves wondering why karma hasn’t come for them.
And so as we try to make sense of what happened, our brain, as it often does, starts to put together a story. Seeing them happy and seemingly rewarded with a great new life affirms to us that they must have been the good guy in all this. After all, isn’t that how karma works?
Well, not quite.
What is Karma?
Karma in yoga tradition is actually a Sanskrit word for action or work. Karma is action, not a result. In fact, in many texts, it is talked about as action without attachment to the results. Karma is not here to punish anyone, is unbiased and not in our control at all.
That means we can take action in a way that feels right to us with the knowledge we have right now without being attached to the outcome. The outcome is not ours.
This can be really great news.
It means that your future is not set in stone - it is not fated - at any given moment we are creating our karma.
As we begin to learn more about ourselves, our patterns, and our intentions, we gain the knowledge needed to act in more helpful ways, both for ourselves and others.
We can also look at Karma as lessons that we can learn from. As we learn more about ourselves in any given moment, we change our thoughts and actions. What that might look like in a relational way is choosing the same ‘type’ of partner over and over again. Sound familiar?
Learning more about ourselves and choosing to have new thoughts - new actions means we can move on from this lesson and get a little bit closer to connecting with ourselves and our purpose in life.
And so, if we look at it this way - that person who you were hoping would be bitten by karma - that might be exactly what is happening. If they’ve jumped right back into similar situations with the same kind of intentions, thoughts, and actions, they’re showing us they haven’t learned any lessons. They’re stuck in that cycle, and that is their karma.
But, you? Even though things look messier and feel scarier for you right now, what that actually means is, you have a chance to learn and grow. You have a chance to create something different!
And that is your Karma!