No point in asking ‘Why Me?’

Life simply happens to you. There is no conspiracy. There isn’t any logic. So, relax and deal with the Life that comes your way.

Yesterday we met with a friend. He comes from a very affluent family. But over the years his business has dwindled, his partner has cheated him and he is having to sell his assets, one by one, to support his kids’ education and to keep “the show going”. He’s worried, he feels insecure and has lost his self-esteem. “I suffered panic attacks last month, I fainted at the wheel while driving. I don’t feel like meeting anyone. I wonder why I am going through all this. I just hate it,” he lamented.
Hating what is and asking “why me” is the surest way to suffer. There are no explanations in Life on why you have to go through a phase or an experience. Asking “why me”, therefore, is futile. Just as hating a current situation is. Understand that Life is pretty darn simple – you are created without your asking for it; similarly you are put through a set of experiences in this lifetime and Life offers no explanations for either your creation or for your experiences. When facing Life you are actually dealing with something with which you can’t dialogue, you can’t reason and you can’t negotiate. This may seem hard to do when faced with an irrational situation – but acceptance is the only way to retain your sanity and inner peace. Well, you can choose not to accept the Life that you have been given, but that will only lead to, and accentuate, your suffering.

So, if you don’t want to suffer, simply take Life as it comes, deal with it to the best of your ability, don’t ask “why me” and keep moving on!

Focus on your efforts and leave the outcomes to Life

Asking why something is happening to you is of no use. The best way to deal with a situation that you dislike is to face it and deal with it.
Life has a mind of its own. It delivers situations to you whether you like it or not. Your preferences are not what Life seeks to know before something happens to you. Who wants a cancer? Or who wants to be out of job? Or who would want a break-up – especially years after a heady romance and an equally memorable marriage? Who would want to lose a parent, child, spouse or sibling? Yet, whether you like it or not, several of these contexts, and more, have applied to you the past or currently apply to you or may apply in the future. Such is Life. Asking why must you be in the situation you are in is futile. Life doesn’t answer anyone’s questions – definitely not in a linear fashion. You can, at best, make sense of your Life by looking back, and reflecting on why some events happened in the way they did. As Steve Jobs has famously said: “You can only connect the dots backwards”. And when you do connect them, you will realize that everything happens for a reason, and all change always is for yourgood!
I read the story of Achal Bakeri and his highly-successful Symphony brand of air-coolers in a recent issue of The Economist.  Bakeri returned to India in 1988, after acquiring an MBA from the US and encouraged his Sanand (Gujarat)-based family business to look beyond real estate. He launched elegant-looking, efficient, air-coolers for domestic and commercial use. Soon Symphony was the market leader in its space and a public listing followed in 1994. But Bakeri made a mistake – he capitulated under pressure from investors to make washing machines and water heaters under the Symphony brand name. The move, though logical on paper and in theory, backfired. Symphony’s new products failed badly in the market and pushed the company to the brink of bankruptcy. After several years of struggle, Bakeri decided to focus on doing only what he – and his company – knew best. Which was to make only air-coolers. But he backed up that decision with a significant change in strategy – he took the Symphony brand global. In 2011, he bought a Mexico-based firm which gave Symphony additional leverage in manufacturing, technology and distribution. That move – and Bakeri’s resolve to focus on his core – paid off. Today Symphony’s stock is rated as among the best performing stocks in India in the past decade. The Economist story concludes with this perspective: “Had Symphony not had such a close brush with failure, it would have stuck to the Indian market and never explored the global potential for air-coolers. “It was the best thing that happened to us,” Bakeri says.”

I am sure Bakeri had his own ‘why-me’ moments of self-doubt, self-pity and anger as he revisited his decisions. I am sure he wondered at some time whether he would be able to haul his company – and his career as an entrepreneur – out of the mess it was in. I am sure he too did not get sleep on many nights thinking of how dark and fearful the future looked. And, yet, I am sure, along the way, one thing led to another and things did work out fine for Symphony and for Bakeri. This is how Life will work for each of us too. None of our stories is going to have a sad ending. Even if you were to die today, leaving unfinished business and incomplete dreams, someone will pick up from where you left off and give your story the end it truly deserves. So, stop questioning the Life that is happening to you. If you love what’s happening to you, enjoy every moment. If you dislike what’s happening to you, learn to endure it. Don’t resist Life – that’s when you suffer. Don’t ask why and don’t ask why me? Learn to face Life and deal with it doing whatever you can daily, in the best way you can! Just focus on your efforts. And leave the results and outcomes to Life. Remember: in the end, no matter what you are going through now, it will all work out fine! 

There’s no conspiracy by Life to fix you!

Sometimes the way Life deals with you, can make you conclude that there is a conspiracy to fix you. Therefore, when you ask why something is happening to you, you have triggered off your suffering!
I was talking to a friend the other day. He reported that his business had slowed down, money due to him from various clients was not coming in and he had also lost a couple of contracts. Over and above all of this, his partner had turned cold and was refusing to take his calls and was not paying him his legitimate share of the business profits. “My monthly income has come down to a few thousands, from a few lakh of rupees, in just under a quarter. I don’t know why these things are happening to me. I am consumed by fear and insecurity. I don’t get sleep at nights. I am unable to bear all this suffering,” he lamented.
If you peel away the emotions from what my friend’s faced with, it is all pretty simple: his business is faring poorly and he is not getting enough money to run his Life. Asking why this is happening is irrelevant in the context of what is happening to him. The truth is that whatever is happening is his current reality. And he has to act on it. He must make efforts to both get new business and collect overdue amounts. Now, what happens if he makes those efforts and still does not succeed? Well, even then there’s no point in asking why. He has to try better ways and methods of doing the same thing – promoting his business and collecting his monies.
When you ask why, why me, why me now, in any context, you have invited suffering into your Life. This does not mean you must not examine and analyze any situation. By all means you must. Only an honest appraisal of any situation can lead to specific, pointed action to remedy it. But don’t make the analysis an emotional one. Don’t bring in self-pity, grief, remorse, anger and guilt into the analysis. Don’t bring in God and religion either. Don’t imagine conspiracy theories when there are none! No amount of pining, agonizing and wishing can change what is. If anything can change a situation, it is only sincere, concerted, timely and relevant action. In any situation, therefore, just do your best, and keep trying harder if you don’t succeed the first time. There is no other way.

Suffering arises when you expect things, people, events and circumstances to be different from what they are. Asking why some things happen the way they do or why some people behave the way they do is futile. Things happen so, people behave so, because that is the way it is. When you decide not to suffer and instead accept Life the way it is happening to you, you will appreciate that there is really no conspiracy to fix you. You will then realize that Life, from birth till death, is just series of events and experiences. Your task, in this lifetime, is to flow with Life while learning along the way. It’s really as simple – and choice-less – as that!