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Breaking the Cycle of Bad Karma: How to Turn Your Life Around

Donna Murphy - Top 10 writer
Woman meditating to break the cycle of bad karma.
When I hit my early 20s, everything seemed to go wrong. One after another, my relationships failed. At the time, I simply considered myself very unlucky.

It took some time, but I came to understand that I was in a cycle of bad karma. Even though I didn't know what I did that was terrible enough to warrant my suffering, I knew that some pattern in my thoughts, feelings, and actions perpetuated my problems.

By sharing my journey, I hope to offer you the insights that helped me take the first step toward breaking a cycle of bad karma and starting fresh.

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What Exactly Is Bad Karma?

The law of karma is a concept rooted in various religious and philosophical traditions, most notably in Hinduism and Buddhism. It suggests that what we do in this life or the previous has positive or negative effects. Bad karma refers to the negative consequences of harmful actions, thoughts, and intentions.

Here are some ways it may manifest in your life:

  • Persistent struggles
  • Rocky relationships
  • Physical and mental health problems
  • A string of "bad luck"

Start by Recognizing the Need for Change

Bad karma is often a sign you're on the wrong path. I learned early on that balancing out my karmic debt wasn't about assigning blame or finding fault but changing things in myself that would lead to better outcomes.

I had to shift my focus to having meaningful, positive experiences even in negative circumstances. Once I adopted a more enlightened perspective, I experienced a spiritual awakening that shifted my beliefs and way of life.

Mindfulness practices like meditation can help you identify patterns in your life that you can actively improve.

Be Honest With Yourself and Take Responsibility

Once I accepted that I had to change, I had to reflect on my past actions to find what led to the cycle of bad karma. I needed to be honest with myself about the harm I caused myself and others.

Next, I accepted that I was responsible for my actions and their consequences. Being accountable is a crucial part of repaying your karmic debt, and it was really difficult for me—especially when it came to taking responsibility for some of the events in my failed relationships.

To do this, reflect on the decisions you made in the past and acknowledge their impact without self-judgment.

Actively Seek Redemption and Forgiveness

When I identified that I had hurt or harmed others, I apologized as sincerely as I could and did my best to make amends. This helped me heal long-standing wounds with my parents. I forgave them for not being perfect and accepted that their actions came from a place of love, even if it may have been a mistake.

Through that process, I also sought forgiveness from them for my mistakes. And finally, I forgave myself for my human imperfection.

Do your best to forgive yourself and apologize directly where you can. Where that isn't possible, reflect on your actions and offer a sincere apology out loud, even if the other person can't hear it. You can also use positive affirmations to reprogram your thoughts and activate brain regions associated with self-processing and reward. Repeat statements like "I am worthy of happiness" or "I am capable of change."

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Focus on Self-Reflection and Personal Growth

Through self-reflection, I was able to consider whether my actions were driven by selflessness and compassion or by negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and greed. Getting to know myself on a deeper level has helped me maintain a healthier mindset and make more positive choices, which actually helps create good karma.

One of the many benefits of meditation is that it develops mindfulness—an important aspect of self-reflection and personal growth. Observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment and try to understand how they influence your decisions. This will help you make more conscious and less impulsive choices.

Be Kind and Compassionate

Feeling more compassion for others and treating them with kindness counteracts the effects of bad karma. At first, I found it easier to incorporate random little acts of kindness into my day. For example, I started letting someone go ahead of me in the grocery line and being a more courteous driver.

Start small. Just smiling at someone—even a complete stranger—can brighten their day and earn you a smile back. Acts of kindness and compassion like these only take a moment, cost nothing, and raise everyone's positive energy.

Create a Cycle of Positive Karma

I still face occasional challenges in my journey, but I have seen the effects of positive karma in my life. I met a wonderful, loving partner with whom I've had a happy relationship for over 20 years. I can solve problems more easily without becoming lost in anger or frustration, and I can act with confidence and compassion toward others.

You may sometimes feel that you're not making progress or that things aren't changing for the better fast enough. Stay on the path and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Breaking free of bad karma is a journey, not a destination.

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Donna Murphy - Top 10 writer
Dona Murphy writes for Top 10 as a committed Tarot practitioner and intuitive coach who transitioned from an HR career to concentrate on self-discovery, improved decision-making, and creating content, including thought leadership, blogs, web copy, and e-books.