Why the expressions "Things happen for a reason" and "It wasn't meant to be" often don't help and what to say instead
When I began my spiritual path, I kept hearing people use the expression "It wasn't meant to be" when things didn't turn out how they wanted.
They saw this as a way of surrendering to the Universe and acknowledging that a bigger plan was unfolding, and they just had to trust the process. It sounded good, but it never felt right or good for me to use it. Part of the problem was that I often felt pressured to say it myself. As in, if I expressed disappointment or regret or anything that didn't say, "It's all good!" and smile and nod, that I was somehow doing it wrong.
I didn't like being pushed through difficult emotions faster than I was ready to process them. And I really didn't like being judged and even shamed for having emotions that people considered taboo or somehow beneath them. Heavy and intense feelings, like anger and desperation, were treated like crimes I was committing against my soul. I was stunned that so many people equated spirituality with never, for a second, feeling or thinking anything negative.
This just didn't make sense to me. I'm human. I have a wide range of human emotions. When things don't go how I hoped, and I am flailing in feelings of failure and despair, the last thing I need is to have my feelings diminished and swept aside. I need to feel what I'm feeling. I'm feeling it for a reason. And bypassing my feelings and telling me, "Cheer up, it's all working out how it's supposed to!" makes me feel invalidated. It makes me feel like I'm not being seen or heard, and this in itself is a frustrating thing to feel. But I don't feel allowed to feel my frustration because everything is happening the way it's supposed to and that frustration builds, and before I know it, I feel like absolute shit.
And what am I supposed to do with the shit? I can't suppress it, because I know that anything that gets suppressed will come roaring back with 1,000 times the force. If I try to ignore or bypass my feelings, they WILL find a way to get my attention.
All I can do is feel them. Feel the darkness. Feel the intensity. Feel the RAGE if that's where I'm at.
Feel it all.
Feel your insides and feel all that uncomfortable shit and embrace the fact that you are a human who is very much in touch with their humanity. To be human, to feel love and compassion and deep connection with others, requires to feel things deeply. And to feel deeply, we must be able to feel the high and the low. If you try to blunt out one side and block the low feelings, you will also blunt out the high, because feelings come as a package deal.
You feel them all or you feel only some or even none.
Not only that, but we're meant to feel those so-called negative emotions for a reason. They're telling us something, and that something is important. The disappointment is our inner self speaking to us, and letting us know what we truly want and desire. If things don't turn out how we wanted, and we just shrug and say, "Oh well. Everything happens for a reason," we are denying ourselves a very intimate and important experience with our inner self.
We are essentially silencing our own inner world. We're telling ourselves that what we want and feel doesn't matter, and we just need to SMILE big and stop acting like our very our real needs are important. We should never, even for a second, express that we have needs, right? We need to be STRONG and never show weakness and never show sadness or pain or that we can't do it all alone -
I'm sorry, but no. Fuck that. Sorry for the strong language, but to say you aren't allowed to feel your feelings and you just have to be happy and trusting the Universe all the time is not how humans work. It's not how you work. You deserve better than that. You deserve so much better. You deserve to be loved, supported, and held like the tender, divine being that you are. To say we should never need something, never show even a hint of negative emotion because that's "weak" or somehow not spiritual, that's the kind of thinking that destroys people from the inside.
To go through something that went so horribly different than you expected, and to throw your hands up at the sky and say, "WHY!? Why is this happening?" is not weakness. It's not spiritually wrong. It's not shameful. It's not bad. It's POWERFUL.
It's you acknowledging that YOU are here, and you have needs, you have wants, and those are IMPORTANT. Deep in your soul, you want something different than what you got and YOU ARE ALLOWED TO ASK FOR THAT.
By using phrases like "It wasn't meant to be" or "everything happens for a reason," we negate our ability to ASK for something different. We silence our own desires. We silence our voice. We silence ourselves. We stop being participants in our lives and become passengers.
For all the people who felt they could never ask for what they want. Who felt that their needs were the last priority. Who felt that they had to smile and make everyone else comfortable before their own self. For everyone who felt they had to put everyone else first, let me say this again,
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT.
You are allowed to ask for something different than what you got. You are allowed to say, "This is not right for me, SHOW ME SOMETHING DIFFERENT."
I want to be clear here that asking for something different isn't about asking for YOU to be different. You were born as a divinely perfect gift to this world, and who you are is who you were created to be. You belong here. You are valid. You are good and worthy, just as you are.
But you can most certainly ask for more support for who you are. You can ask for more love. For a place to live that suits you better. You can ask for people who love you for you. You cannot ask to be a different you (and I sincerely hope you know you truly are eternally perfect, no matter what anyone says), but you can ask for the you that you are to be celebrated and cherished and shown what gifts you have to share.
Not only are you allowed to give input on your own life, but you're SUPPPOSED TO. This can be a scary thing, particularly if you were taught that bad things happen when you try to make yourself a priority (I feel you). To learn how to feel that your needs are important, you will most likely need more help than this blog post can offer. A good therapist, a coach, even a trusted friend, can help you with sorting out why you feel you must always come last.
But there's one thing you can do right now. You can stop saying, "It's okay. Everything happens for a reason." When you're not okay, and things in your world are not okay, feel it. Acknowledge it. And if the people around you don't want to hear it, and they just want you to smile and move on, then you probably need new people in your life. I'm not saying to cut those people off, but realize that they are not qualified to be your emotional support system, and you will reduce the influence they have on your life so new and better people can show up for you.
At the same time, you can say some really powerful phrases that will work WITH how you're feeling. Here are some ones I'd love to share with you:
And remember, always, that there is no one in this Universe more deserving than you. No one is born more special. We're all different and unique and valuable in our own way. You deserve to have everything you can dream of brought to you, and in ways that are better than you ever imagined.