I cannot tell you how many times my clients have said to me, after some stressful or traumatic event, “Well, everything happens for a reason.”
Do you know what I see in them when they say this?
A desperate attempt to rationalise away the pain of something they just cannot deal with.
Mostly, it doesn’t work, because deep down inside they really don’t believe that it’s true.
I don’t believe it either.
I sometimes ask them if saying this makes them feel better.
Invariably they say no.
Because that would imply knowing the mind of God, a God who controls every single tiny event in the lives of 7 billion people!
I mean really!
Apart from the question of whether this kind of God exists at all, how on earth would you know their mind?
I am totally open to being completely wrong,
There might be a God who manages and co-ordinates all things, logically, for a ‘reason,’ but what I observe is that when people say that “it’s for a reason,” they don’t look like they believe it, so saying it, is meaningless and perhaps destructive.
It’s pretty human to resist pain and suffering. We all do this. The problem is the extent to which we do it. Life is undeniably filled with challenge and difficulty and pleasure and pain so what’s to be done about the fact that we don’t like the pain?
What I observe people doing is trying to get rid of it by desperately using their mind to make sense of life.
When I ask my clients what they want to do with their pain and negative emotions when I am doing releasing work with them, every one of them, without exception says, “I want to push it away, get rid of it.”
This is natural and human, but long term, it’s a disaster. The ‘negative’ just gets repressed and it sits there inside of us.
When the repression doesn’t make us feel better, we say, “Everything happens for a reason,” which just creates more repression.
It’s also a way of trying to get control of a life that is essentially uncontrollable. Much of the time it feels chaotic. We use the mind as a control device, like a person lost in the desert might use a compass. The problem is that the mind, unlike a compass, really doesn’t know what is going on.
And who says it should?
Perhaps the joy of life is in flowing with the stream, open hearted and awake and perhaps just looking for the blessings in the pain.
A while back I was running a corporate workshop around stress and personal resilience, one of my passions. One of the delegates talked about a very stressful event in his life, when his first child was born and as he was shown the baby for the first time and the kid suddenly started to gasp for air and was whisked away by the staff. He said that he went into total panic.
It was the worst experience of his life but he said he learned a lot from it.
So I asked him what he had learned.
And he said, “I don’t know!”
He was simply trotting out a conditioned phrase which had no real meaning, just like ‘everything happens for a reason.’
Some Fabulous People Die Young
My ex-brother in law was killed by a brick truck, swiping him off the road some years ago. He was 49 years old and he was just one of the most fabulous people I have ever met. Why did he die so young?
Why is Robert Mugabe still alive at 93!
It all happens for a reason?
Maybe…I really don’t know.
We need to know.
We want to know.
We like to think we know.
But we don’t really know. I think we just clutch at straws, hoping that what we tell ourselves is true.
I’m working on just surrendering to the mystery of life, open-hearted, not knowing.
If you would like to meet face to face or via Skype to discuss any of the issues raised here, please drop me a mail at email@example.com