I actually find some of it dis-empowering because it seems to require that I give myself over to some higher purpose that is beyond my understanding and beyond my control.
I want to find more reasons to be cheerful and to feel that even though I may not be in control of all events, I am not helpless and nor am I a puppet.
There is a movement in coaching, counselling and personal development that has at its heart a fundamental belief that ‘all things happen for a reason’.
How often have you heard personal development gurus say: “this is a test, designed and sent to you to prove that you are up to the task”, or even more irritatingly, “bad things happen to people who are best placed to deal with them”? The idea here is the presupposition that there are higher (possibly supernatural) forces at work which are manufacturing the events and circumstances of our lives. That is, the tests are being chosen for us.
My concern is that statements like this demonstrate how personal and professional
Please don’t assume I am religion-intolerant. I don’t have a problem with religion or a person’s right to practice their faith. I’m up for a bit of mass-hysteria sometimes as well. But I like my religion honest and straight up. I don’t want it masquerading as something else, like personal development.
So, I’d like to offer an alternative view to the notion of things happening for a reason. It’s a view that I find much more empowering.
Is it true that all things happen FOR a reason? Or do we come up with reasons why things happen to help explain them, make sense of them and deal with them? We apply the reason where no reason previously existed.
Events happen. Sometimes our actions precipitate those events, and often those events occur with or without our help.
Our characters are influenced by the events we experience, but it isn’t the events themselves that shape us. It’s our response to those events. The events are invariably neither deserved nor undeserved. They are just events; they are what they are: some good, some bad, and some neither here-nor-there. But the way we interpret those events and derive learning or value from them, ultimately defines who we are and what we become. Our response is a demonstration of our character.
There is nothing positive in an event such as the death of a child, or the annihilation of an ethnic group. It is morally repugnant to justify these things in any way. And yet they happen to innocent and blameless souls. What possible reason could there be for such things? Who would wish to rain down such suffering just as a test?
But these things do happen, and we live through them. They are meaningless in and of themselves.
What we all do is exercise our capacity and freedom to choose how we will respond. It’s our response, even though we may have had no freedom to prevent the event.
The fact that as human beings we have this wonderful capacity to recover from atrocity, does not justify atrocity. A situation will test us: our resolve, our capability, our emotional state. But to imply that the test was deliberately set by something or someone for that purpose is to create a state of fear and anxiety which is unhealthy. It has the capacity to numb us, enfeeble and denigrate us.
Personal Development is all about personal choice and how much freedom we feel we have to choose. We know that we cannot always choose the event, but we also know that our response will be uniquely our own, and could influence future events.
We know that whatever we do, stuff will happen beyond our desire or control! We don’t also need to be told that someone is deliberately doing it to us! How empowering is that??