“Whatever fate one man can strike can come to all of us alike.”Publilius, from Seneca, Dialogues and essays, consolation to Marcia, 9
Our lives seem easy until we hit an obstruction. Sometimes it feels like the only thing we are doing is climb over, under, or through everything that comes our way. That’s when life shows its true colors that it is hard. Whatever we endure, it seems it is the hardest anyone has had to go through. We start to think: Why me? Why are all these bad things happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening to me?
Seneca shows us that there is a consoling answer to this question. Whatever happens to others, can happen to you, indiscriminately. Instead of asking ourselves; why me? We should say; Why not me. If this could happen to anyone, then it can also happen to me. What makes me different from that person?
Bad things would happen to me
“But I am good and always help people, that should save me.” I’m sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t. What might help you is your outlook on the events that happen to you. As we read in the reflection on control, we need to know how to assess the situation. Depending on this perception we can start to accept that life is what it is.
Whenever I felt sorry for myself, I would often ask myself these questions. Even when the events that I deemed as bad were self-inflicted. This might come as a shock, but I wasn’t always the levelheaded person some might know me to be now. Although I must add that I was usually not too bad in keeping it to myself.
Many of these bad experiences all seem so far away and I can’t even remember them. But I remember feeling sad for myself and that question of ‘why me?’ stayed with me. Looking back at it now, it was as if I was the victim of life. No matter what I did, bad things would happen to me. When you grow older and more impactful things come your way, you see that it is all relative.
Why not me
Why be good if it doesn’t matter whether you are or not? It is true that we can’t control what we might have to face. But I find that if you do good and are positive towards life, you will start to see things from a better angle. You can look at what they are and that can make life more bearable. Looking at the bright side requires you to first think on the bright side. If you stand in the shadows, the silver lining will only blind you.
Another factor that I’ve learned from myself is making sure you step out of the victim role. The ‘why me?’ is a cry for pity from those who don’t believe in themselves. And pity is not the support we are looking for. Besides, who can give you what you need when the whole world is suffering its own pains. There might only be a few of them around you if you are that lucky.
It’s time to take responsibility and face what has occurred. ‘Why not me’, feels like a phrase that has some power. It tells me that I am not a victim of some personal attack. I am dealing with things that others have dealt with before and maybe even had it far worse.
We have the ability to reflect
Have you ever shared a problem with someone and felt like they were not completely in it the way you were? That’s probably because they weren’t. And how could they? They have their problems at the top of their minds. The best of friends will support you in a more intimate way, but even they can’t feel precisely what it is that troubles you. Maybe you don’t even know exactly what help you are looking for. We need to examine our issues and find the root cause.
This should not be read as a doom and gloom reflection but as an empowering one. Most of the time the people who undergo difficulties find the strength to push through it or at least keep up morale for the people around them. Those who stand at the sideline usually hurt more, because they can’t do much. We have the ability to reflect and see what it is that is bothering us. External support is never a wrong thing, but it shouldn’t hold up the entire structure.
It was Stoicism for me
In the last few years, I’ve had my share of personal trials on a personal, health, and professional level. All of which could have pointed me towards a corner to sit in and mope. To clarify, my life has been very privileged and without any major obstructions, so far. Even though, there were difficult times. And without knowing where it came from, I have always looked at solutions. More so in recent years, where I was more willing to give myself a ‘slap in the face’ and stand up straight.
This was even before I started reading books to the level I do now, but once I read my first philosophical book, things started to click. It showed me that I wasn’t the first to deal with bad things and also not the first to think of ways to deal with them. It was Stoicism that spoke to me. And it might be something different to you. If it is different, that’s awesome. If you don’t know yet what it could be, then I would suggest you find what works for you. I would be more than happy to give you some book recommendations. And if you already know, please let me know in the comments how you found your way.
You’ll know how high to jump
We all work from our personal reference and see the world as we know it. This makes it almost impossible to know and feel what others are going through. We can make a start by listening to people and paying attention to them. It is not our task to take on their burden, but this kind of support seems like a good start. When we deal with our own issues we don’t tend to have a lot of eye for other problems, so let’s lend an ear.
Getting the topic of ‘why me’ out of the way allows you to focus on what is important. Find ways to cope or deal with whatever you are facing. You could ask for help, professional advice or maybe even start a blog. Knowing what you can control and working with that will help you improve and grow as a person. If the same obstacle comes again, you’ll know exactly how high to jump.