Is It Your Fault If You Get – And Stay – Sick?

I am currently writing the hardest chapter in my book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself.  Any time you write about self-healing, one painful issue comes up for any sick person. “If I can heal myself and I’m still sick, is it my fault?”

As a healer at heart, I think blame, guilt and shame have no place in the therapeutic relationship, but how should I address the fact that we have the power to heal ourselves without blaming sick people for their illnesses?

I decided to ask the wisest people I know – my friends on Twitter and Facebook!

Why Some People Self-Heal & Some Don’t

I asked why one sick person gets well and another stays sick or even dies. Was it the patient’s “fault,” per se? Was it divine will? Was it karma? Fate? Sheer bad luck?

Hundreds of people responded. Here are a few highlights:

Athena (@Martzca) posted, “Some people aren’t meant to get better. Some people are getting something in return from being sick and don’t want to let it go.”

@Gaelick tweeted, “A feeling of self worth. The person with it accepts the miracle, the other can’t.”

Savannah Alalia tweeted, “The one who heals is the one who has the courage to go wherever they have to physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually.”

Mary Roger Barrett tweeted, “Maybe they are [experiencing a miracle] and it just doesn’t fit our definition of what a miracle is.”

Erin Harnesh tweeted, “Everyone’s path is unique. Maybe someone has more learning to do with their illness, more enlightenment to see. God has His reasons.”

Adreana Leal wrote, “Sometimes the conscious wants to live, but the unconscious wants to die – or vice versa.”

Lisa J. Smith posted, “We all have different journeys and experiences. Positive thoughts are great, but divine order sometimes is greater. Some things we will never understand. We must have faith to trust all is as it needs to be, and maybe the healing is in the illness itself, not in the healing we think we want.”

Maya Hanley posted, “Sometimes we learn a lot about ourselves from illness. I think of people who’ve had terrible accidents and who go on to do amazing things in life because they heard the messages they were supposed to hear and then used what they learned to do good.”

Helena M. Falcon wrote, “I believe there’s a divine hand over us, and our path on this earth has been written. Some paths end with the illness, and miracles transpire in many other forms (as I experienced when my husband died of leukemia at the age of forty.) I believe his mission here on earth was done.”

Al Wright posted, “Healing does not always mean finding a total cure for illness. Sometimes, people heal in the process of dying.”

Sharon Martinelli wrote, “Some things are simply beyond our control and our knowing. One of the greatest frustrations I have experienced comes from reading well-intentioned books that make great efforts to connect our human ailments and diseases to our emotional selves and our dis-eases. This puts incredible pressure on the person who is doing their best to heal but is nonetheless losing the battle with their illness. Sometimes, acceptance is much grander and then can enable a patient to come to peace with where they are in that moment. Perhaps then a miracle occurs – or it doesn’t – and it is how we support one another through either outcome that is really important.”

April Cooper posted, “The question I would ask in each case is ‘How is the illness contributing to the person’s awakening?’ We each have a hero’s story to live. One person’s hero may be awakened by the illness, while another person’s awakening lies in something else, so the illness isn’t needed for the long-term.”

Michaela Spurling, who noted that she is “living successfully and well with inoperable liposarcoma,” wrote, “I often read that our life is run by our subconscious mind, which is like a program that plays everything we have learned since being small, especially the very early years where our brains soak up everything like a sponge. It is said that we are only using the conscious mind 5% of the time, which is precious little. I think if someone does not heal, it may be that consciously they want to heal but on a subconscious level they don’t. There are ways to rewrite the subconscious mind using techniques like EFT, Psych-K or Brandon Bays’ Journey Therapy for example. I also believe if the soul is ready to leave the physical, then nothing will hold it back and the person will die because they have fulfilled what they came here to do.”

Vanessa Smith wrote, “It’s a natural human tendency to make our experiences mean something based on the personal and collective story/ belief system around the topic. In our culture, we view illness as ‘bad’ or something to fix, an indicator that something is wrong. Perhaps that’s not the truth, but rather, a perspective. I believe someone might not ‘heal’ (make their illness go away) because it’s the path they chose (on a spirit level) to experience – just for the experience itself, not for karma or lessons learned or soul growth. Why would experiencing an illness necessarily be any different than choosing to eat cake? We just make it a bigger deal because it’s got more emotional weight attached to it.”

Lindsay E. Smith, who suffers from a “mystery pain” in her pelvis, wrote, “Will the mystery pain in my pelvis disappear when I face some as of yet undetermined sexual issue from my past? Or is it just there to make my life miserable every so often?  Taking the middle ground stance seems too much of a cop out; either you believe that every pain and issue is a mirror of yourself, or you believe that it all comes down to random environment and genetics. I find myself leaning more and more heavily to the subconscious mirror side as of late, but I don’t know how to face the stabbing pains in my gut or the bouts of severe depression without feeling as though I’m being punished for not being able to work through the roots behind those issues. It’s a question that not only applies to health, but to all aspects of life. Funny thing is, as much as I rant now, I have faith that not long from now, I’ll read something that addresses these exact issues with a solution that makes sense to me. So this is sort of my way of asking the Universe for an answer.”

Brenda Fredericks Marino wrote, “I recently met a man who had been healed by an amazing spiritual healer. He told me that when this man is healing people, offering them his healing light, some people accept it and some don’t. Maybe it is just their karma to go down a certain road.”

Elsah Cort wrote, “Healing is a return to wholeness, and each person discovers their own path to this. It is not a matter of lining everything up right (i.e. your belief systems, etc) but more of a surrender to the process. Be careful of using the word ‘miracle’ with too much awe attached to it, as miracles are only called that because we are not recognizing the truly ordinary, natural way the universe unfolds. The biggest obstacle in this exploration of healing is for us to release attachments to the consensus reality when we think about disease, treatment and cure. ”

Dean Campbell wrote, “[The outcome] most likely has to do with a reason to live.  People that have something that they have to do or want to see yet. They can will themselves to live on, while others accept what they believe is their fate and then pass on.”

What Do I Think?

I’ll tell you in great detail what I think in my book, but until then, a few key thoughts.

Call it self-sabotaging unconscious beliefs, call it lack of self-esteem, call it karma, call it divine will, or call it cellular degeneration, it’s a known fact that we’re all going to die one day.  Heartbreakingly, some of those people will be innocent newborns. Some will be blameless six year olds. Some will be mothers with three young children who have a brain aneurysm that bursts during labor, leaving a father to raise the children alone.  Some will suffer from the effects of a toxic waste dump they unwittingly lived near. Some will die of congenital anomalies with which they were born.  And some will be 97 year old scoundrels, having buried everyone they know.

While miracles can always happen, sometimes they just don’t. We must make peace with this fact. But when we mix faith, love, gratitude, intention, and Divine intervention in a Petri dish, I believe we pave the way for miracles to happen. By healing your mind and your life, you create the perfect environment for cure, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. And if cure isn’t meant to happen, healing allows you to live or die with illness in a state of grace.

So yes, I believe you can affect the outcome of your illness. And no, I don’t think it’s your fault.

What do YOU think?

Share your answer here. You might even get quoted in my book!

Writing away,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.comPink Medicine Revolutionarymotivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.


Catherine Crouse
Catherine Crouse5 years ago

You know what? It is not anybodies fault for anything! Especially if they get sick. I am amazed and so is everyone else at the vaccinations that children receive today, and they save their lives! Medicine (iodine in salt) has been saving our lives for centuries, it is just that noone has been educated in this respect! If they knew, they would not do it! Education is the one and only answer! Viva les aboriginals!

Brian M.
Past Member 6 years ago

While one's mental health, specifically attitude and determination to work towards healing, can impact the course of an illness and/or the quality of life one experiences even when one is chronically ill, it is cruel and ridiculous to ever suggest that anyone is at fault for their chronic illness or somehow responsible for the severity of its impact on their life. It is also a lot like putting the cart before the horse. Many people are happy, hopeful, and enjoying life because their health is so good, NOT the other way around. Try living six months with pain so bad in your arm that you wish someone would amputate it, then see how positive your thinking is before you condescend to judge the sick.

Chad A.
Chad A6 years ago

The positive thinking admonition can go too far in making people think everything is in their mind and then that they are responsible when something bad happens. Hope and optimism are good things and should help encourage ans strengthen us, not immobilize ourselves and start an unhealthy blame spirl.

Maggie Obrien
Maggie Obrien6 years ago

exercise and eat organic in moderation = healthy :)

Shirley E.
Shirley E6 years ago

It's always a good exercise to examine your pay-offs if you get ill, to delve into what benefits there might appear to be (time off work, care and attention from family, getting out of uncomfortable responsibilities etc). I'm sure there are cases when it IS a person's own fault they get ill but more often I think it's to do with factors buried in the still deeper unconscious or even in contracts made between lives about what growth, learning and experience is needed.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

do what will help, not hinder

Brenda Bonfield
Brenda Bonfield6 years ago

As long as you know you are doing your best, be happy and move on.

Mac C.
mac C6 years ago

Interesting topic. I enjoyed reading your friends comments on your question to them and I agree many are very wise. Thanks for the post.

Emil Perera
Emil Perera6 years ago

This is a true Story.a friend of mine while he traveling in the train during the insurgency period a bomb blast in the compartment where he seated.He was badly injured his bowels exposed and wrap in a bag when he was hospitalized.and treated in the intensive care unit.
all relatives and congregation prayed for the speedy recovery .Prayers were answered he recover d.It is a Miracle Even Doctors had given up hopes of his life.To day he lives there are some side effects due to some metal pieces are still inside his body

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

We choose our attitudes and actions towards illnesses. We also choose how we respond to the results. Are we growing on our human journey?