To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. Friedrich Nietzsche
Life can be tough. It can bring disappointments, frustration, pain and adversity. When it does, ‘Why me?’ is a natural question to ask.
You know what it’s like to have a day when things seem to go wrong; you oversleep, drop coffee over the laptop and get into an argument over something trivial with a loved one all before lunch. And you day can go from bad to worse.
Usually you can accept it as ‘just one of those days’ and are able to take it in your stride without too much difficulty. Then there are those times when you feel overwhelmed and you ask yourself ‘Why me?’ out of a sense of despair. When you do it’s not usually over a trivial event. It’s because there has been an accumulation of significant difficulties, so that all it takes is just one small thing to tip you over the emotional edge.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor E. Frankl
A broken heart, a critical illness, an unexpected redundancy, a serious accident are just some of the major life events that can occur at any time. When they do you are thrown into a situation over which you have little or no control. You are forced into a transition that you would rather not make, yet there is no other option because you can’t change what’s happened.
It’s usual to think ‘Why me?’ at times of crisis and loss, and it’s accepted part of grieving. ‘Why me’ becomes detrimental though when it becomes the basis of your thinking, and your negativity becomes your norm.
In the past, my pessimistic thoughts locked me into a victim mentality from which it became increasingly harder to escape. Instead of having positive thoughts and expecting the best, ‘Why me?’ dragged me into a self-destructive spiral of expecting the worst. ‘Why me? kept me hopeless and helpless in a life which was disintegrating through depression and alcoholism. Additionally, it was preventing me from gaining the strength and wisdom that comes from recovering from tragedy and trauma.
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Matthew 5:45
There were times when I thought life would never be bearable. I remember sitting with a psychiatric nurse shortly after I had attempted suicide. It was quite a ‘pity party’. I wailed as I recounted how my unloving mother had left me and then declared me as dead, how my cruel father had abused and neglected me, how my relationships had failed, how I’d lost my job, home, possessions. And to top it all I was in the grip of depression and alcoholism. There was no end to my sorrows.
I wanted the nurse to feel my pain and show sympathy. He didn’t. His response was to remind me that I was fortunate to be alive and that I lived in a world where life was tough for others too. It took me a while but eventually I understood what he had said. I was also grateful that he had cared enough to tell me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to be told.
As I began to heal I initially felt ashamed and embarrassed at my selfishness and arrogance. What was so different about me that I should escape tribulations? Nothing. In fact it was by realizing everyone faced testing times that I started to embrace the possibility I could overcome my past. I looked outside of my own self-centered world and saw that life is full of survivors. And I wanted to be one of them.
The capacity for humans to overcome extreme adversity is huge. Without doubt I had been through some challenging times, but I had allowed them to overwhelm me. Once I made that decision to reclaim my life, I started my journey to physical, emotional and spiritual recovery. I never looked back.
I discovered it’s not what you experience it’s how you respond to it. I came to accept that bad things happen to good people, not just people who think they’re bad. And I came to realise that I was worthy of love and belonging.
Today I am no longer captive to negativity, pessimism or despair. I am free to enjoy my life on life’s terms but with all the marvelous possibilities that await.You too may be struggling today but believe me,you can choose to make a difference for tomorrow. So start believing in yourself and reach for that inner strength that is waiting to be released.
Set yourself free from ‘Why me? It’s time to say ‘Try me.’
Huge thanks to the talented Kathleen Tennant for allowing me to use her artwork. May not be reproduced in any form without her permission. Take a look at her other work here: http://www.kathleentennant.com/