When ‘Why Me’ Leaves You Without an Answer
Learn to escape the grip of the “why” monster that’s pulling you down.
Posted Aug 17, 2020
“Why is this happening to me?” This thinking is like a one-two punch that can knock you down when you are already feeling hit hard by life. The intent of these questions is often to reduce your pain by making sense of your situation. It’s based on an often-unconscious belief that by making the world predictable, you can protect yourself from further harm. But it’s misguided and likely to inflict even more pain, rather than helping you to be resilient and heal.
Maybe there is an identifiable reason for your problem, or maybe not, like when a pregnant woman is doing everything “right” and still has a miscarriage. Either way, you cannot change the past and may not be able to change the present. When you are headed full speed toward finding an explanation, you may end up moving in dizzying circles (looking for an explanation that does not exist) or smashing into the painful, immovable reality of your current circumstance.
Even worse, many people react by asking, “What’s wrong with me?” They see painful experiences as evidence that there is something wrong with them. They might sense that things would be different if only they weren’t so deficient, worthless, or flawed.
You can save yourself a lot of pain by taking a different approach. When you begin to wonder “why” or “why me”, try refocusing on “what” you are going through. Acknowledge the situation and how you feel. For instance, I was laid off and I’m angry that they chose me rather than someone else; or, I was diagnosed with cancer, and I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to me.
In response to your feelings, you can offer yourself empathy and compassion. Recognize that many other people in your circumstance would feel as you do. For instance, the recent pandemic and tumultuous world events may have led to you being stressed by health, financial, or relationship problems. You might struggle with anxiety or depression. Rather than being impatient with yourself, consider how you are far from alone. If you are feeling helpless, acknowledge and offer sympathy to yourself. This response offers the message that you are not the problem and your emotions are not the problem. Instead, the problem is simply that you are in a difficult and painful situation. (For more on how to be open to your emotions, check out the brief video, Coping with Emotional Pain.)
Even when you know you’ve caused trouble for yourself, harsh judgment will just make you feel worse. However, responding compassionately can offer a positive way forward. For instance, if you have a history of getting fired from jobs for angry outbursts, calling yourself an idiot, or blaming your bosses won’t fix the situation. It will likely leave you feeling demoralized or thinking that it’s all their fault – neither of which will motivate you to change. However, imagine that you could understand your frustrations, have empathy for your difficulty managing them, and feel compassion for the pain they’ve caused. Assuming you continue to value having a good job, this inner emotional support can help you to refocus. You will feel more motivated and better able to find healthy ways to cope with frustrations at work.
Still, you will be in pain that begs to be soothed. It is important to do what you can to comfort yourself and build resilience. You might pray, meditate, work out, express yourself through creative arts, or talk with friends. Healing will come as you open to the idea that your emotions are human experiences to be acknowledged and responded to with caring.
If you would like to learn more about this topic, check out this brief video:
Making Change blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional assistance.
Making change through compassionate self-awareness