Just because life’s not fair, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily unfair. Fair is an evaluative term that traps us into thinking things are supposed to turn out a certain way. And that we are owed certain things.
But who said things were ever supposed to be a certain way?
The other night I was walking around outside with my dogs. It was chilly out, but not dangerously cold or anything.
(Side note: I hate cold weather, especially since I lose circulation in my hands and feet, which leads to me feeling physically uncomfortable very quickly during winter. Or, ya know, when some place has their temperature set any lower than 76*.)
Ok, sorry… back to my riveting story: So on this chilly night, I had a strong moment of irritation when I noticed how cold my hands were, wishing they instead felt the perfect, most comfortable temperature. As though that’s how it was supposed to be - that my hands were supposed to be warm, but noooOOOOoooo, the damn universe clearly hates me! I started thinking about how I wish I had gloves. How I wish I lived in Hawaii and never felt cold against my skin.
But then during this moment of comically-low-grade suffering, I paused and asked myself, “Who said I was supposed to feel comfortable in this moment?” Turns out no one did. The world never promised me that. So that means I told myself it, which also means I can untell myself it. By acknowledging that this moment wasn’t supposed to look any certain way, and that I wasn’t entitled to a tailor-made experience with warm, toasty hands, my frustration passed.
Now… let’s be clear. My hands were still cold. But my frustration and resentment of my experience had passed.
Think about all the beliefs and expectations you have about life. And all the ways they might lead to frustration. Whenever we start assuming… and demanding…. that something be a certain way, we give ourselves a 50/50 chance of feeling frustrated.
This doesn’t mean we can’t hope for things or have expectations in life. And I’m certainly not proposing some depressing mentality of, “Believe all of life is shit and turmoil, that way you’re never disappointed!” (<--- screw that logic). But I am proposing you check in with yourself during moments of suffering/irritation/disappointment, and ask yourself, “Who said it was supposed to be any different than this?”
Maybe your mom said it’d be different. Or your best friend. Or your teacher. Or your doctor. But guess what? The universe didn’t say shit. Because the universe isn’t concerned with things turning out a specific way for you.
And thank goodness for that. Because wow… wouldn’t that suck to think there was supposed to be a specific way everything was supposed to turn out at all times, as though there is a specific decision you’re supposed to make at all times, a specific plan you must adhere to… a specific person you’re supposed to become in life? Yikes. Talk about pressure! But no. Instead the universe merely says, “It is what it is.” And I don’t know about you, but for me, that is a freeing thought.
Now, you might be thinking… “Uhhhh, I’m sorry your HANDS WERE COLD, but I’ve got real problems. Scary problems. Deeply painful problems, and I can’t just trick myself into brushing it off.”
I feel ya. I, too, have some real problems -- things I struggle with that I feel are completely unfair to struggle with since there are so many other people out there who don’t have to deal with the same things. But no matter the struggle -- be it your car breaks down or you were diagnosed with cancer -- the universe never promised you anything different. I’m not trying to sound harsh, but I’m not sure how else to phrase it.
The universe never promised you anything different.
Now let me be clear here. Your suffering is real. It’s valid. And you’re gonna feel the sting of it. There’s no magic pill that will take away all painful experiences, thoughts, and emotions. So in no way, just by recognizing that the universe doesn’t owe you anything, mean that you won’t feel pain from your situation (especially when it’s something very tragic like illness or loss). However, it will help you no longer feel victimized by life.
It will help you see that life isn’t being unfair to you. It’s merely sucking. Sucking really bad at the moment.
We deal with so many uncomfortable things in life, be they minor annoyances or devastating blows. And those things really do suck. But when we start feeling like things are unfair -- like our experience shouldn’t be what it is -- we are adding on another layer of suffering. Now not only are we having our primary struggle, but we’re also feeling betrayed by the universe.
So wouldn’t it be nice to get rid of those extra layers of suffering? Those constructs of what life is supposed to look like? Those beliefs that life is failing us?
Don’t worry… I’ll answer for you.
Yes. 100% yes. It would feel great to remove constructed layers of suffering.
So your task? Notice any moments, big or small, where you start getting mad at the experience you’re having and try to ask yourself, “Who said things were supposed to be different?”
Because guess what? It definitely wasn’t the universe.