If you’re superstitious, and even if you’re not, you’ve probably heard an axiom or two about bad things and the way they unfold. In fact, you may have collected years worth of evidence proving they’re true. However, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why do bad things happen to me?” the answer likely much simpler than you think and has little to do with “threes” or being caught up in a roll of bad luck.
This week my daughter hurt her hand at school and came home with swelled fingers that quickly turned black and blue. Of course, it makes sense that she’d bang her leg walking past a chair and no surprise that she smashed her hip sitting down for dinner. She lamented her terrible luck and asked, “Why? Why me?” Sigh.
Yeah. Getting banged around sucks, but she was ready for the next bad thing to come because she was cursed by an evil sorceress. Oh, hold-up. No, she wasn’t.
Here’s what’s really at play when bad stuff keeps happening – you’re looking for it and are hyper-attuned to it.
Wait! What? That’s it? No way.
You may be thinking that you don’t want this bad stuff to happen, and you’re not making it up. I believe you, that it’s one crappy thing after another, but that you’ve got blinders on to the good things that are also present. Those blinders cause you to dismiss positive experiences because they don’t align with the bad.
I’ve written before about the art of holding both and in this case, that’s allowing for bad things to happen in your life without it becoming mostly bad or your default expectation. Yin and yang are always at play, and where there is darkness, there is also light – you just have to look for it.
Here’s a quick exercise to illustrate seeing what you look for:
What kind of car do you drive? OR What kind of car do you plan to buy in the near future?
When you bought it, (or now, right before your purchase) did you suddenly see many more drivers on the road with the same make and model?
There’s some good news; you’re not cursed or ill-fated, and you’re definitely not doomed. You’re just looking in the wrong place.
Bad Things Happen. Stop Working So Hard to Prove Yourself Right
You look for things to prove yourself right. We all do it.
When my daughter getting banged and bruised, for example, she surmised, “I’m clumsy.” (she’s not) She also decided that bad things happen to her far more than the average person which is also not true.
When bad things are coming your way (didn’t get the job offer, lost wallet, dropped your lunch before you could eat it…) what do you tell yourself? Bet it sounds something like: “It figures.” Not a powerful or positive message to send yourself. That one thought encourages you to gloss over the good even when it’s in your face.
Stop convincing yourself that you are in a crap vortex and it’s pulling bad things your way. While you’re at it, stop working so hard to prove yourself right that you deserve the bad or that you brought it on – you don’t and you didn’t. Mounting evidence doesn’t make it true.
Want your bad day, week or month to go poof?
Be intentional and look for facts that back up your opposing perspective. Bad stuff going on? Look for facts that prove the good.
Not every day is going to be your best, but chances are, even in the worst, there’s a glimmer of good waiting for you.
BREAK THE FRAME ACTION:
It’s up to you to shift your mindset from looking for the next bad thing to looking for the good. As we discovered with the car exercise above, you find more of something when you look for it.
Good/Bad Yin/Yang Exercise:
- Take a piece of paper and fold it in half and on one side label “good” and the other “bad”
- Number each column 1 – 10
- Reflect on your week and let your mind key in on some of your most memorable moments
- Take 30 seconds and fill out the “bad” side
- Take 30 seconds to fill out the “good” side
- If you’re in a “why do bad things happen to me” place in your life, chances are the “bad” side flowed easily. However, once you forced your brain to see the good, they started to flow too.
- If you’re in a “my life is awesome” place in your life, the flip is likely true for you.
If this silly LEGO video set to one of my favorite Weird Al songs of all time doesn’t put things into perspective, I don’t know what will.