When bad things happen, often our first response is “Why me?” The answer we grab directs our lives, lead to love or hate, fear or courage.
The answer to the Why Question aids or hinders the ability to let go of the things you cannot change. The answers people give vary, but here are some of the more common ones.
- Karma, fate, chance
- God’s will
- The Devil
- Impossible to know.
Which answer comforts you the most now? Do you stick with one or a combination? Most likely your find more than one useful.
Have you turned away from one and toward another? The bigger the hurt, the more likely you did one of two things – totally abandoned an earlier explanation, or clung more tightly to it.
Which reflects your philosophy of life and helps you move forward? Does the answer ease hatred and anger? Fill you with despair? Push you to do good? Feel good, bad, or at least less painful than another explanation.
Pleasure as a motivator was previously discussed, but the idea of not pleasure but less pain as motivating. not numbness. Numbness while not actually pleasure avoids pain.
But it gets more complicated, for numbness can feel like pain which is why some pursue pain, for as one woman whose arms are laced with cutting scars explains, “I need to know I’m real.”
Complicated. So is the world and so are those of us living here now. Staying strong is hardest when trouble visits. To do so you must think through your answers of why. You need to develop a philosophy that lets you answer the Why Question. Doing so increases the possibility of enjoying what is good instead of staying stuck in the horrors that are part of life.
Such a philosophy helps take you to radical acceptance as described by Marsha Linehan the founder of Dialectal Behavior Therapy. This is the acceptance sought in the Serenity prayers and by the Buddhists. It is key to surviving all the bad that life throws at you.
In terms of finding healthy answers to the Why Question, I have always loved the story of Ruby Bridges as told by Robert Coles, a developmental psychiatrist. Coles was observing the impact of desegregation on the children of New Orleans and was asked to help Ruby and her family survive the hatred of the whites opposing desegregation.
Ruby was the only one of six black children picked to go to a formerly all white elementary school to do so. She was the little girl in the white dress immortalized by the American Artist Norman Rockwell.
The hatred thrown at her during her walk to her new school was intense, she was threatened with poison, death threats to her family and all supporters as well as the hateful comments of the crowds lining her path to her new school.
Coles reported that one day he saw Ruby pause in the midst of being escorted to her classroom. She turned and said something to the crowd. Coles later asked her what she had said.
“I asked God to forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Her parents sent her out each day with that prayer. It was what Jesus is reported as having said as he hung on the cross. Ruby had a belief that protected her from returning hate with hate.
Your path to the good life and the world’s path to peace must hold to life firming beliefs that keep you from hatred and thoughts of revenge. Whether religious or not, if you have not worked out beliefs that keep you from hatred, now is a good time to spend some time thinking about how you answer the whys of life. My book Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals shows the way to the healthiest life paths.
Tip one: Again, age and stage matter. The preschool child and school age child need you to tell them why bad things happen.
My personal favorite remains “To teach us something. What do you think you can learn from this?”
Note, I do not believe life sends us personally designed lessons. But I do think there are lessons to be learned from all that happens.
Tip two: Own your personal explanation. If you haven’t put your answer to the why question into your brain and heart, do so now. Your children will benefit.
Tip three: Examine your explanations for hurtful messages. Many people see bad things as either a punishment. The punishment explanation does more harm in the long run as it promotes the idea some people are saved and others damned which is divisive, drives some to concluding they are bad and often frees them from trying to be good. Drives others to twist their thinking to believe their desire to hurt and harm is justified.
Tip four: Surround your child with people who share your beliefs and live them. To me this means being active in a religious group. Young children need that. AND yes, I know all religions need to be examined for hateful theology and that needs to challenged and changed.
However, that does not erase the fact that children raised early on in a group that holds with healthy religious values fare better in life. That is most true if the adults live the good of their religion as well as discuss and deny bad and divisive theology.
Tip five: Use the changing thoughts of adolescence to help your child solidify the ability to think clearly about the good and bad of all belief systems. Children need to investigate the beliefs learned in childhood and make them their own. Adults who are open to the idea that truth and twisted truth lies can be found in all religions fare better and are on a better path to peace than those who believe on their beliefs are the true beliefs.
This is a good topic for a formal family meeting.
Tip six: Say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” in one way or another. Doing so also promotes critical thinking and protects the child from feeling betrayed when earlier beliefs do not hold up to life’s meanderings.
DAILY PROMPT and relatedness to this post. Envelope Pushers – When was the last time you took a risk (big or small), and pushed your own boundaries — socially, professionally, or otherwise? Were you satisfied with the outcome?
Deciding to offer this free course was a way to push the envelope in my efforts to move EFTI into the profitable realm. That hasn’t worked yet, but doing the course is proving helpful to me and I hope to a few others.
All the handouts and poster coaches for this course are being posted at the store so you can download them for free.
Apologies if you cannot find one. I am a Jill of all in this business, so some things take longer than others. If something used here isn’t posted yet, you will find lots of other offerings including inspirational quotes or more EFTI exercises. In time all will be posted.
LINKS OF INTEREST
- Radical Acceptance (dbtselfhelp.com
- Ruby Bridges (en.wikipedia.org.
- Mans Search for Meaning (amazon.com)
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
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Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult but staying strong lets me find the good.