I'm not sure who coined the phrase "everything happens for a reason", but I'm going to tell you why it's not to be trusted and how it's the source of toxic, limiting beliefs.
By sugarcoating discontentment with the idea that your life is at the hands of some imaginary energetic pull called fate, you forfeit the inborn power you possess over your own joy. It's a common method of detachment and denial that enables us to continue existing under the umbrella of victimhood and the idea that things are happening to us rather than because of us.
A large part of my recent work has been dissecting even the most inconspicuous ways I victimize myself, and this string of words has been my fallback for far too long. I used to reconcile my "mistakes" (we'll touch on that word below) with the fact that they happened for a reason. The further I get into the excavation of my behavioral patterns, fear, and conditioning, the more clearly I see my truth. Things happened for one reason and one reason only: me. I made decisions and life, as it always does, unfolded in relation to those decisions.
I am where I am today because I was the player, not the pieces being played. It is easier and far more (falsely) reassuring to convince ourselves that we were destined to struggle for a particular reason than accepting the fact that we are solely responsible for the pain. The true reason that things happen has nothing to do with the lessons garnered from them. These lessons are experiential wisdom, NOT God sticking his foot out, watching you trip and fall on your face, and then asking, "So ... what did we learn?"
A power greater than us does give us intuition, strength, and support, but it does not choose for us. You know the quiet nudges we experience in the pit of our bellies? The ones that aren't always the most pleasant to heed? The ones that tell you to write the book, reach out to the person, don't get out of the car, end that relationship, turn randomly to this page in that book... When we do not listen to the voice of intuition and our lives seemingly fall apart, that does not translate to "you weren't meant to thrive in this moment."
You were meant to thrive in every moment; even the ones that hurt. Everything is nectar. Everything is sustenance for the soul. Every moment has the potential for growth.
We attach unnecessary meaning to the things we have done in an effort to disassociate ourselves from their outcome. You were not meant to get into that car accident in order to learn a valuable lesson about texting and driving. You chose that text over your life and the lives of those around you while navigating your four-thousand pound vehicle. You weren't meant to stay in that oppressive relationship for two years to prove how worthy you truly are. You chose to remain unhappy because the fear of leaving was greater than the love you had for yourself. You weren't meant to be fired from that job because something better was on the horizon. You were fired because you loathed it, it showed, and you were looking at other openings elsewhere. If you knew deeply that a particular situation, person, or activity was or was not in your best interest but you did or did not do it any way, that is not fate. That is the power of conscious (or unconscious) choice. In most situations, we choose the easy way out. We make excuses to avoid change and growth because its uncomfortable and intimidating.
We almost always wish we could go back and do the work the first time because comparatively speaking, it was vastly easier than making changes now. I can guarantee that ALL of your so-called mistakes could have been avoided if you listened to your gut. Amiright???
When we build our lives on avoidance and fear instead of ownership and power, we choose pain over thriving every damn time.
Some decisions suck. They fill our bellies with tumultuous, uneasy seas and our eyes with tears, but that’s just the change coming.
Change always evokes discomfort.
It wants to know how badly you want it.
Are you willing to let go of your habits, your addiction to suffering, your smallness?
I have had an unfortunate habit of labeling my past choices as mistakes, which in theory seems perfectly reasonable. But by categorizing certain decisions as "mistakes," I am allowing myself to be the victim of whatever transpired afterwards... as if I wasn't in control the entire time. As if I was some poor, measly soul just doing the best I could with what little information I had. Bullshit. We are SO much more in-the-know than we admit. By deeming certain choices "mistakes," I am also telling myself that I am not intelligent enough or strong enough to have chosen differently. Both of which are false.
If we wish for joy, we must begin to shift our mindset from "why me?" to "me, that's why." You are not the victim. The sooner you can release statements like "why did I do that," "why is this happening?" or "well, I can't do anything about it now," the sooner you can reclaim power over your life. Own your choices. If it is a no, stand tall with your shoulders back and make it your "no." If it is a yes, let your heart settle into your "yes." The answers and the outcomes are yours. And it is never, ever too late to choose again.