“Everything Happens For A Reason” Or Does It?

You’re stronger than all the sh*t that’s happened to you.

Amanda Ritch

The other day, a friend asked whether I believe everything happens for a reason.

We’ve ALL heard it. Usually when something awful has happened. Mostly when there’s no apparent rhyme or reason, and something terrible has happened to a nice person.

It’s supposed to be comforting. It’s supposed to give some meaning and purpose to heartbreak.

But does it really?

Many religions have some sort of construct built around this idea. Because it’s terrifying when bad things happen out of the blue and we’re left to pick up the pieces. 

First let’s take a look at some examples of the idea of everything happening for a reason. And then we’ll look at how to heal and empower ourselves no matter what.


Karma: Buddhism + Hinduism

For example, the concept of karma from Buddhist and Hindu beliefs is very fatalist. And I do mean the original religious understanding of karma, which has often become a bit watered down in modern spiritualism. 

The original intent of karma is that justice is exacted on people in their current life for decisions they made in previous incarnations.

So in other words, this concept suggests that everything bad that happens, is happening because someone deserves it.

Calvinism: School of thought in Protestant Christianity

And to switch religions entirely – Calvinism (a school of thought within Christian protestantism) believes that everything is predestined. Good and bad.

Very similar to karma, except that instead of being about punishing someone for decisions they made in a past life, predestination suggests that Diety (God, as a protestant would see Diety) has already decided everything that is going to happen. 

So if something bad happens to someone, this concept suggests it’s because God decided it would happen that way for whatever reason.

By the way – there’s another school of thought called Arminianism which believes that although God may have foreknowledge of events does not mean God exacted those events. Like the idea that you can know your partner or boss or friend so well that you know exactly what they’re going to do/say, but that doesn’t mean you made them do/say it.

Comfort? Cruelty.

We all get it. It’s horrible when something totally senseless and traumatic happens. And these things do happen.

And of course it’s totally natural that we want to offer some sort of comfort to ourselves and others when bad things happen.

But is it actually comforting to say everything happens for a reason? 

Is it perhaps actually cruel? Is it possible that in telling ourselves or someone that everything happens for a reason, we’re actually communicating that either Diety decided you should suffer, OR that you actually deserve it because of actions you have no control over or knowledge of in this life.

If that’s not cruel and disempowering, I don’t know what is.

Where does this leave us?

I’ll be a bit provocative here and suggest:

  1. Perhaps it doesn’t even matter why bad things happen. Once a bad thing has happened to you, it’s happened. You can’t go back in time. ALL YOU CAN DO IS DECIDE HOW TO GO FORWARD.
  2. Maybe it’s MORE comforting just to speak honestly when bad things happen. Like, “I’m so sorry you’re hurting. I don’t have all the words for you. But I’m here with you. What can I do for you?”

I’ve said repeatedly that we can’t always control what happens to us. 

Because we can’t. Regardless of whether you believe in past lives or not, regardless of whether you believe in fate or that you control your destiny.

All we can control is how we choose to move forward. This does not mean ignoring or repressing what’s happened. This approach to life simply means that instead of getting hung up on issues where we have no say over, we focus our attention on the things where we DO have say.

Because that’s where empowerment really matters. Learning how strong and powerful you can be in the face of difficulties, to push through and still land where you want to be in life. 

My advice to you is to choose yourself. Choose your happiness over whatever else may have happened. Prioritize being truly happy. That will help you to filter out all the words and thoughts that are no longer serving you.

Because you deserve love, healing and empowerment. You’ve got this.

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