Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you hopeful - full of hope - despite what is out of your control that may concern you.
This question: “Why Me?” might just be the most powerful question we humans can ask.
As you know, I have an affinity to any question that begins with “why”, hence the name of our team. And of all the “why” questions we might ask, “Why Me?” has revealed the most to me.
Louis Pasture said,
“Fortune Favors the Prepared Mind” and nothing has prepared my mind more for fortune than asking “why” questions; not just financial fortune, but fortune of insight and fortune of understanding. No one ever promised us a life that is simple; no matter how much financial freedom you may have, struggles are around the corner and we can get very busy trying to manage the swerves in the road and forget to stop and analyze why we act the way we do, why we are in the situation we’re in.
It takes even more courage to ask
because there are times in our lives when there are no easy answers or simply no answer at all that we can clearly see- especially when we’re blinded by emotions.
I remember my mother near the end of her life, facing death, saying to me: “death is unreasonable”.
There are times in our life when a reason is not available to comfort us, especially times when something or someone we love has come to an end.
My experience has been that the
“Why Me?” question is rarely asked proactively, it is much more often asked reactively, when life as we know it has come to an end; when the life we knew, has ended, and we find ourselves thrust all the more into the unknown. That moment of realization when you “feel” the end and have no clear view of the future, even if anticipated is, no doubt, a time of great fear and trepidation. We can become hyper conscious, noticing and feeling so much more.
Carl Jung said that pain awakens our consciousness. As creatures of habit, we largely live habitually unconscious lives. If you ever wonder why people actually choose uncomfortable situations, climbing mountains, jumping in cold water, we can start to see how these activities and the “significantly unexpected” can wake us up.
While waking up can be startling, consider the alternative, who wants to sleepwalk through life?!
Notice the character of those you admire the most. What is their story of self-development? Show me a remarkable person and I can guarantee you they will have a remarkable story - a hardship that burned away the dross, the worthless; revealing the gold beneath.
In 7 skills of highly effective people Stephen Covey reminds us that: “It’s about choice, you’re not a born winner, you’re not a born loser, you’re a born chooser. And greatness isn’t for the chosen ones but for the few who choose.
The “Why me?” coin’s reverse is “Why not me?”. Remember those situations where the one next to you took the hit, but not you. Survivorship guilt is very common among the soldiers who survived. No doubt the ones most healthy have taken on the responsibility to live on and live in gratitude. No true friend would want ill for another. Life is unfair and is not made fair by undo suffering in an attempt to reduce suffering. It is possible for two things to be true at once: sadness for another and gratitude for yourself. For surely life will give the survivor their fair share of troubles and hardships.
Notice also the judgement baked into our assumptions. It is very common that around six months after devastating life events, most have come to not only move on, but to reflect on those events with gratitude. In fact, I can now see with hindsight through the benefit of time, that every hardship that I have endured has come to grow me and developed my character despite the overbearing pain felt in the moment. No one asks for character building experiences, and if you do, be careful what you ask for, but with time and wisdom gratitude can emerge for the very thing that almost killed you.
So, this I believe is the answer to
“Why Me?” when we find ourselves in the fetal position: so I can become better.
Who would Hercules be if not for the battles? And ironically the answer to the reactively asked “Why me?” to become better, actually answers the proactively asked question “Why Me?” why do I matter, for what reason am I here on earth? to serve others better with what I have learned.
Try to not linger in the rut for too long and remember to look for the doors that are opening when others close.
I absolutely believe that we find our purpose and meaning through the hardships we endure. What we learn about ourselves through hardship: the understandings we gain, the character we build, can be seen and experienced as gifts to give our fellow man. To live a life serving another with the insights gained from living and overcoming. Every hardship can increase your positive impact on the world - how else are we to truly connect and express understanding if we ourselves have not been through the same hardship. My mother passing immediately, intimately, connected me with every human who has ever lost the mother they loved. Condolences to another are no longer just a kindness, but an authentic caring expressed having gone through the same experience.
“Why me?” reactively answers the “Why me?” proactively; to mold you, improve you, strengthen you and make you more of what the world needs now. Live, Learn and ever improve your capacity to Love and embrace the change that’s given to especially You.
Make it a great week!