Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

Stop worrying, and start focusing on how to get through your difficulties.

Dr. Marcia Sirota of the Ruthless Compassion Institute is one of my new favorite psychologists. She put out a video called – Does everything happen for a reason. Her answer is no. Sometimes things happen for a reason, but often, they just happen.

View it here:

When dealing with difficult situations, she says, worrying about whether something is happening for a reason is counterproductive.  It doesn’t matter if it’s happening for a reason or not. What matters is how you cope with what you are dealing with.

When people tell people who are experiencing a tragedy – well, everything happens for a reason, they are not being helpful. To me, it’s really just a way to absolve yourself of your own feelings of fear. You can walk away, it isn’t happening to you.

But for the people in the middle of tragedy, it doesn’t help them. What helps is asking them how you can help them. The other reason to avoid telling people “it happens for a reason” is because what you are telling them is that they may be to blame for what has happened.  And that’s a horrid thing to tell someone who is experiencing a tragedy. Whether you say it or not, the person in grief is thinking it, so don’t add to their feelings of guilt and shame.  Offer to help them through whatever they are going through.

Additionally, Dr. Sirota points out, rightly, that feelings don’t have to be positive all the time. Negative feelings are ok. They give you information. And if things are bad – your negative feelings tell you that you need to change something. And that’s a good thing. So don’t deny people their emotions. Allow them to have negative emotions. You don’t always have to put a positive spin on things. It’s not helpful.

Dr. Sirota was kind enough to allow Humanist Learning Systems to offer her entire Ruthless Compassion course for free – check it out at:

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