Stop Telling Yourself “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s A Cop Out & A Lie
“Everything happens for a reason” is the greatest lie of the new age movement. Want to know what happens for one singular reason? Nothing. Want to know what happens for whatever reason you chose to assign to it? Everything. Next time you hear “everything happens for a reason” punch the person who said it. Punch them hard. Right in the nose. Then why not steal their wallet, and rack up huge credit card purchases at Nordstrom’s – look at you, you cosmic force! Then wait for said person to thank you. Yes, to thank you wholeheartedly, for playing your humble role in the master plan of the Universe.
In 2014, Ethan Couch left a party in Texas and drove his car into four stranded motorists – killing all of them. Their names are Breanna Mitchell, Hollie Boyles, Shelby Boyles, and Brian Jennings. Real people. Mr. Couch was later released from custody after it was ruled that he wasn’t brought up in his family of origin with proper consequences for any actions and therefor shouldn’t be punished for this. The defense strategy of “Affluenza” was born.
Why did this incident happen?
It happened because Ethan Couch was a drunk asshole who made one of the many poor decisions that punctuate his life.
He wasn’t in a cosmic contract with the parents and loved ones of the victims to teach them the lessons learnable only through the worse kind of loss the human experience can dole up. He wasn’t the bestower of lessons on impermanence or the growth attained from recovery from loss or heartbreak. He was a spoiled prick. He killed people. They died. And real people suffered because of it.
To assign reason, spiritually, earthly, or otherwise, is a copout. “Reason” is simply a form of denial, an emotional opiate for coping with what cannot be rationally understood. Call me spiritually unsophisticated if you need to, but I don’t believe incidents come with an inherent lesson. And it is the absence of an inherent lesson that makes life’s challenges so potentially empowering.
Looking Backwards Only Creates A Map
Years ago, my then girlfriend Tiffani and I broke up and got back together a few months later. During that break-up period I bought tickets to go to Thailand to train Muay Thai. There, in a Thai camp in Chang Mai, I met the guy who introduced me to CrossFit. I returned full of love for kickboxing and had another six months of happiness with Tiffani.
Tiffani lived in Carpinteria, California, and spending time there with her gave me my love of Santa Barbara. When we broke up again, I joined CrossFit Los Angeles and began my CrossFit adventure.
Had she never broken up with me, I never would have started CrossFit. Had we never dated, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with Santa Barbara, the place from which I wrote this very article, my home for six years. So dating her, and then breaking up must have happened for a reason, right?
Not necessarily. All it did was pinpoint the starting place from which I can map out the path to where I am now. Had we stayed together, I’d be somewhere else living another life. I would then look back on the extraordinary events that had brought Tiffani into my life – a book purchase in Greenwich Village, a letter to the author, and a 250-foot motor yacht in the Caribbean – and I would say, “Look where I am now, married to Tiffani, living in this place, doing these things. I can’t believe the Blair Witch Project was sold out on July 2, 2001, next to that bookstore in New York. See everything happens for a reason.”
Perhaps if we’d stayed together, you wouldn’t be reading this, or maybe I’d be writing another article on altogether separate topic. Or, perhaps I’d be dead from a surfing accident, or in prison on a false accusation, or hooked on heroin after getting rear-ended in traffic. Perhaps I would have stumbled upon the cure for male pattern baldness and would forgo a writing career to hang out with likes of Fabio and that dick Tom Brady.
Another possibility would be that I took the break up with Tiffani poorly and instead of diving into CrossFit decided I would express the deep pain of our break up by kidnapping women, chaining them to the radiator in my basement, and raping them on a daily basis. That experience, and worse, is happening to people right now as you read this. Don’t you dare say it’s happening for some spiritualized pseudo-reason.
Would You Thank A Killer?
The rapist, the murderer, the cheater, and the thief do not deserve the credit bestowed upon them by our saying they were complicit in a spiritual plan long laid out for us and/or agreed to in a prior life. Sometimes bad people do horrible shit to really good people. For no other reason than it gets them off.
It’s easy to assign positive reason to negative situation long after the dust has settled, the trauma has been sorted through with therapy and intestinal fortitude and then look back from a place of joy and say, “Oh yes, look at me now. Everything must have happened for a reason.”
What that does is take away from the decisions you made to get there and belittle the work you put in. The hours of pain you sat through and endured without numbing yourself, dissociating, or spiritually bypassing.
None of this means you can’t take the worst thing that’s happened to you and turn it into a positive. It doesn’t mean you can’t literally use the pain experienced from losing a loved one, being assaulted, cheated on, or betrayed, lied to, and stolen from and turn any of it into the greatest catalyst for change you’ve ever experienced.
What you do, moment in and moment out, is entirely up to you and will always be the choice that you have available to you. Those choices are not up to the heavens, or the Universe, nor whomever you pray to – making them and then taking the requisite action is up to you.
Nobel Prizes Or Wasted Lives – Our Choice
People are remarkable. The strength of the human spirit is inspiring beyond measure. It is enough to give us hope in the pitch blackness of despair and shine a beam of light into our lives when that ray of hope is the literal difference between life and death. I am not discounting that. Quite the opposite.
Opportunities for growth, advancement, change, and development can be had when we are at our most wounded. When we’ve been hurt, broken, betrayed, and worse. We are the determining factor in whether a broken spine means producing the greatest fiction series ever written or years wasted staring at pornography on our computer screens. Whether heartbreak gets turned into a deeper sense of compassion and understanding or violence and mistrust of the opposite sex. We make those decisions, day in and day out, when we are wounded.
When we believe that nothing happens for a reason, then we become free. Free to assign any reason we choose. To see what happened to us as a catalyst of growth – an opportunity to love more deeply, feel more strongly, to open our hearts with compassion to others, to change any and every aspect of how we are expressing ourselves in our daily lives. And to do so immediately.
We are free to become who we’ve always wanted to be and use the experience, the benignity of it, to our own advantage. If there are no rules, then we get to make our own.
Experiences are meaningless. What you do with them is the most powerful choice you will ever make. Choose wisely.