Have you ever asked yourself the question:
“Why does anything happen to anyone?”
I know this is a confusing question – Let me elaborate…
What causes things to happen in our lives… no, not what is the reason why things happen to us; but rather, what causes things to change in my life?
It is an important question, because whatever answer we have to it, determines how we deal with it. Most people are living their lives completely unaware, not paying attention to what’s happening with or to them.
Over many years I have asked this question to many individuals, and I believe the answers I received can be grouped into three reasons:
My own decisions or actions cause things to happen to me, and or
Other people’s actions or decisions cause things to happen to me (sometimes we have some influence, mostly none whatsoever).
Things that are not linked to any human activity (at least as far as we know) – call it LIFE or Acts of God. It could be weather, nature or super natural.
If anything happened to me as a result of point number one, the question “why?” is an important starting point. Why did I do what I did? What influenced my decision at the time? Was it the right decision with the result I was hoping for or the wrong decision, with consequences I’m less happy with? If it was the right decision, how can I ensure that I make more decisions like that? If it was the wrong decision, what can I learn from it to make better choices next time?
If something unpleasant happened to me as a result of points two or three, the question “WHY?” can pose quite a few challenging realities to deal with.
In his book “Good to Great”, speaking about leadership, Jim Collins believes “Level 5” leaders give credit to the team when there is success, and go to the mirror for introspection, when things go wrong.
In the same way we need to always look at ourselves first, when things have gone wrong in our lives as a result of someone else or any other external factor.
What went wrong?
What did I do to contribute to what happened?
What could/should I have done to prevent it, or influence the situation?
The fact of the matter is that we often get stuck with the “WHY”
Why in such a way?
Why him/her… I trusted them!
These realities could be big OR small seemingly unimportant experiences, like
Being over looked for a promotion, or
Being excluded from an occasion by someone you considered to be a friend.
Someone being unfair to your kids
Experiencing difficult times in your business
Answers to the “WHY’s?” are often not available or visible – at least not in the immediate future. And even if some of them were, focusing on this question mostly leads us down a vicious downward spiral, of self-pity, depression and ultimately a victim mentality.
I have learned that in all cases the way out of any negative experience in our lives, be it as a result of any one of the three reasons why things happen to us, the way out starts with the same powerful two steps:
Step 1: Accept that it happened.
It is very important to note that I say “THAT” it happened, and NOT “WHY” it happened.
I have seen so many people unable to reach a state of acceptance because they can’t find an explanation for their “WHY?” This is sometimes as a result of their current convictions about life, God and people; or purely because there just isn’t an explanation to their “WHY?”… at least not one that they are prepared to accept.
We don’t have to accept why something happened, but we have to accept that it did, and that we can’t undo it. It is in the past. It has happened:
He did break your trust.
She did leave you.
You didn’t get the job.
That money is gone.
Your child is ill.
He died and is not coming back.
The moment we accept that something has happened, and can’t be undone, there will always be a partial release… but this shouldn’t be left at that. I have seen so many people who have reached acceptance, BUT FAIL TO TAKE THE NEXT IMPORTANT STEP…
Ask the right question… not “WHY?”…
Step 2: Ask yourself “WHAT NOW?”
The moment we ask ourselves this powerful question:
Our focus shifts.
We get busy with solutions.
We start taking responsibility.
We take Action
This is the only way to start rebuilding your life.
John C Maxwell says: “We can never go back, and make a new start, but we can always start now, and make a new END!”
Stephen R Covey said: “Our Ultimate Freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.”
What is your “WHAT NOW?”? Is it:
to let go?
to apply again?
to start over?
Shift your focus! Ask WHAT NOW?