This is the most natural question to come in to our minds when we go through a very painful experience. Pain has this uncanny knack of getting us to stop in our tracks and question everything that is happening around us.
“Why is this happening to me?”
“Why do I only have to go through all of this pain?”
“Why do I alone have to suffer like this?”
A lot of people ask themselves this question and stay stuck in this question for a long long time. Sadly, they never find an answer that satisfies them. At times I wonder if there is even an answer that can ever feel satisfactory to “Why me?”
Just think of it, what could possibly be a satisfactory answer to,
“Why did my partner leave me and go? What was so wrong with me?”
“Why did my parents not have enough time for me? Why did they never give me the love that I wanted?”
“Why doesn’t anybody seem to love me and want to be with me?”
With people who are stuck with the “Why Me?” syndrome, I realise that every answer that they receive only creates a new “Why?” in their mind. And it goes on spiraling.
I believe our Self-Talk is crucial to our emotional well-being. And if we often tend to get stuck with “Why Me?”, it might be helpful to look at this habit closely.
Well, to begin with here’s some of the issues with asking “WHY ME?” :
1. It keeps the focus only on ME. This question has a very deep and unconscious assumption that if things don’t seem to go the way I wanted it to go, the only possible reason is because something is flawed in me. And in a very round-about manner it creates an unconscious illusion that the world somehow revolves around me and nobody else has a mind, feelings, thoughts or a destiny of their own.
2. And then starts the endless search for “What is flawed in me?” Here begins the whole cycle of Self Criticism. Most people go down this path in a highly Self-Shaming and Self-Derogatory manner.
3. Interestingly, the most common answer to this kind of an inquiry into the Self, that finds its roots in Self Criticism, usually leads to the conclusion – “I am not good enough!” And many of us have made these kind of conclusions very early in life.
“WHY ME?? Because I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”
(Do read this post on “I am not good enough” being a vicious cycle that can keep us stuck)
4. And of course, now we have set ourselves up in a perfect loop. Because no matter how “good” we become, we often see that the original situation never changes (relationships, parents, life). We keep obsessing and fretting, feeling like a victim, feeling helpless and miserable.
5. And of course this obsession is tiring. “I am not good enough” does not feel like the right answer, but it feels like the only answer. We start to feel like there may never be a satisfactory answer. And eventually if we keep at it, we can even slowly start to get into a depressive state.
Here’s a very simple suggestion.
If you find yourself in this loop, switch the question instead to, “The worst has happened. What do I need to do now?“ Sometimes shifting the focus to this form of questioning can create movement and can at times even help us step out of the depressive loop.
Check if there are other questions you can ask yourself that can feel more grounded and empowering. Questions that begin with “What?” or “How” maybe. “Why me?” (especially when asked in this Self-Shaming and Self-Deprecatory manner) is quite disempowering.
And now, here comes the irony. There is however, a specific point where “Why me?” is relevant and is a pertinent question to ask.
Spiritual Masters of yore say that when we have finally reached a state of mind where the “Why me?” and the “Why did this have to happen?” kind of questions don’t matter at all; and when we have reached a state of mind where life moves forward gracefully with the larger flow of life; when we have moved beyond Self-Criticism, Self-Blame and Self-Shaming as a way of improving ourselves, and we are in a state where we can see ourselves and all of creation as ‘Perfect Inspite of Flaws’, that is the time when “Why me?” would be a very helpful question. In this state of mind, this line of inquiry into the Self can take us into a state of Evolution.
It would be like looking back at History in a reflective manner and understanding why things happened so that we learn and evolve. It does not come with the intention of blaming or punishing anyone. Because the mind stands rooted in the knowing that what has happened is already over and there is no emotional residue still lurking in the system.
This is when the Masters (of the mind) asked themselves “Why me?” to inquire into the happenings across their past lives. They would very wisely ponder about how they have “attracted” pain in order to grow from it, they would fathom Karma as a benevolent teacher as opposed to a horrid and vengeful Punisher. Through their years of practicing compassion and kindness for the Self, they learn to see their own fate and destiny with soft and wise eyes.
According to me, unless we have rooted ourselves in the practice of Compassion and Kindness to our own Selves, “Why me?” is a painful question to ask.
In my own personal journey, I have seen that as long as I hadn’t developed my own set of kind and gentle eyes for the Self, “Why me?” did not even give me satisfactory answers. It merely created the feeling of being stuck and miserable.
“When one turns within and searches, whence this ‘I’ thought arises, the shamed ‘I’ vanishes – and wisdom’s quest begins.”
Sri Ramana Maharshi
NOTE : I am deeply aware that this perspective can seem way too simplistic for people actually going through similar situations. Please comment or connect with me if you find yourself grappling with something I have expressed. The objective of this post is merely to stimulate a thought process. This is not a solution to anything that might be troubling you emotionally.