As a child of the 1970s in California, I was constantly told, "You create your own reality." But I lived in a home I did not design, breathed air I did not pollute, went to public schools I did not vote to underfund, rushed home as soon as the last bell rang to avoid the flasher who skulked in the yard across the street, ate off beautiful antique dishes I neither made nor worked for, and slept soundly between soft sheets.
I did not create my own reality.
"Ah, but that's because you hadn't yet taken responsibility for your own life," the New Agers would insist, sipping their bee pollen tonics and adjusting their crystal pendants.
Back then, as now, I understood their point: that which we water grows. But I also understood that most of them were privileged and narcissistic.
You create your own reality, they said. It's an idea that can be potent and empowering: if I can dream it, I can make it happen. But the belief has a dark side, too. Cancer patients are made to feel that they brought their illness upon themselves because of their own negative thinking. Underemployed workers are sent to career counseling, where they're taught that their real problem is their own sorry view of themselves. And I guess that folks living and dying through wars can assume that they're just not good enough at visualizing world peace.
--from Ariel Gore's book Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness