People often ask me how and why bad things happen. Especially why they happen to good people. I’m asked this because I believe in God and I believe in positive thinking. I believe in the law of attraction, well something like it anyhow. I believe in all of these things, even though I’ve had bad things happen to me. I’ve had breast cancer. I’ve lost more babies than I’ve held. We’ve had major financial difficulties. Still I believe.
I have faith despite the hard things I’ve experienced for a few reasons. First, I believe we all have choices to make every day. Sometimes we make poor choices which lead to bad things happening to us. Sometimes other people make choices that affect us. Neither God nor any amount of positive thinking can change that.
Free will is an amazing gift, but it sometimes means people do stupid, mean, horrifying things. We can choose what we attract into our lives by living life intentionally. What you focus on, you get more of. This allows us to avoid some negative things in our lives. But not everything.
We have the gift of free will, just because some people choose to use that gift to spread anger or sadness, doesn’t mean my beliefs are wrong.
Maybe it’s because I have an extremely competitive streak, but I still believe positivity and basic goodness can influence the world. I won’t give up because giving up means darkness won. What? Oh yes, I do love good vs evil stories, they’re one of my favourites!
Other people behave in ways that may negatively affect me, or fill me with fear, but I still focus on the positive as much as possible. If I focus on fear, then I freeze and darkness wins two battles in one. So I continue to believe in light and love.
Some Paths Only Show Up After a Storm
The other reason I still believe despite bad things happening is because sometimes these bad things happen and better things follow.
Don’t get me wrong, telling someone “Everything happens for a reason” is still wrong. It’s wrong because it negates their feelings. Empathy is extremely important, especially when someone is experiencing horrible life events. Saying everything happens for a reason dismisses their feelings and tells them they shouldn’t feel the way they do. But all of that is for a different post.
In the moment things can feel over whelming, but after the moment lengthens it’s possible to see new paths emerge. Often these paths would not even be possible if not for the bad events that happened first. But these paths are also often only visible if we’re willing to see them. They’re only visible in the light so if we give up and allow the darkness of defeat to envelop us, then we likely won’t even see the opportunities around us.
You’re Not at Fault
Some people think all of this means I believe it’s their own fault their life is the way it is. They point out all the things that’ve happened and demand to know if I really think it’s their fault.
The problem is it’s not a clear answer. You have a choice each day. The choices you make are your fault. But was it their fault they lost a baby? (In most cases) No. Was it their fault they were one of 300 people cut from their job? No. Was it their fault someone crashed into their car and they couldn’t afford to fix it? No.
It’s often not your fault these things happen. But how you react to events in life is your choice. Will you be sad or angry for a day? A month? Hold onto it for years? When given an opportunity to find happiness, will you turn away?
What I’ve found is people who have empathetic support from others are more likely to move on from these hardships faster. But if you’re either alone, or the people around you don’t understand how to be empathetic, then it can be very difficult, or impossible, to move beyond that place.
What You Can Do
If you’ve found yourself in a dark place the one thing that can help the most is to find someone to talk to, preferably professionally. Someone who can listen and be empathetic. Someone that will not judge you. This person cannot and will not fix things for you, only you can do that. But this person can help you sort through your own emotions that you’ve held onto for too long.
If you can’t talk to anyone, writing about the things that happened can also help. Write the details, how you felt, the things you did. Write as much as possible. If you have a lot to write, I’d suggest setting a timer so you only let so much out at a time. Allow yourself to really feel it and focus on it, but don’t overwhelm yourself.
As you explore your emotions, you may find it easier to breath and easier to make different choices in your day to day life. Every time you consciously make a decision, it makes it easier to consciously make the next decision.