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Bad things happen.
That’s a fact of life.
But when a bad thing happens to you, it’s natural to ask why.
And when more than one occurs within a short space of time, it can feel like the whole world is against you.
You wonder what you did to deserve this.
And still you’re left reeling at the unfortunate series of events that has befallen you.
Let’s dig a little deeper and see if we can’t find an answer to your “why?”
It’s A Numbers Game
We’ve already established that bad things happen all the time. It’s a part of life.
Someone steals your car from outside your house.
You miss your flight to your friends wedding and can’t attend.
You’re struck down with a virus that keeps you in bed for a week.
These three examples are common occurrences. They will befall many people every single day.
But sometimes you hit a run of bad luck and all three things happen one after the other.
Without wishing to sound harsh, you might just be the inevitable consequence of mathematics.
Let me explain…
Imagine you have a coin with heads (H) and tails (T) on either side. And let’s say that heads represents a good thing while tails represents a bad thing.
If you toss that coin 3 times, the possibilities look like this:
In this rather grim reality, you experience a bad thing in seven out of the eight possible series of coin tosses.
And you experience more than one bad thing half of the time.
Fortunately, life is not so unpleasant. Life is more like a many-sided dice. Each face represents something that might happen and these things can be good, neutral, or bad.
The most numerous are probably the neutral events, followed by the good events, and finally the bad events number the fewest.
One person rolling the dice would be very unlucky to land on several bad things in a row.
But the world is full of billions of people. With so many people rolling so many dice, there will be people who roll bad thing after bad thing for a while.
That’s just how chance (or luck) works.
So here’s the first explanation of why bad things keep happening to you: you’ve been unlucky.
Yes, it could just be down to luck. Someone has to get bad luck and you’ve recently had your fill of it.
Does this make the bad things any easier to accept or deal with? No.
But it can at least help you to stop thinking that the world must be against you. The world really has no agenda.
Did You Contribute To The Bad Things?
Without wishing to blame you or anyone else, we do have some influence over some of the things that happen in our lives.
So while you may sometimes be totally out of luck, other times you may have a hand in the bad thing that has happened to you.
If we return to the three examples above, it might be the case that:
Your car got stolen because you forgot to put the steering lock or other security device on.
You missed the flight to your friend’s wedding because you didn’t factor in much wiggle room in case of delays to your journey to the airport.
You are struck down with a virus because you didn’t practice good hygiene after visiting your sick friend in hospital.
While you are not wholly to blame for any of these three things, your actions have played a role in the outcomes.
So this is the second reason why bad things keep happening to you: you’ve been careless.
It may sound harsh, but you may have had some influence over some of the unfortunate things that have occurred.
The actions you took (or didn’t take) might have seemed small at the time, but they could have been pivotal in how events turned out.
In which case, these things didn’t happen “to you” by themselves. It’s not the case that they happened “because of you” either.
There’s a gray area somewhere between bad luck and being at fault.
After all, a thief still had to steal your car, your journey to the airport still had to be delayed, and you still had to touch an unclean surface at the hospital.
On another day, your car wouldn’t have been stolen, you would have made your flight, and you wouldn’t have got sick.
To put it another way, are you not learning the lessons of past mistakes?
Again, without wishing to blame you for the bad things that befall you, each time some unwanted event takes place, there might be lessons you can learn from it.
Each lesson is a change in the way you do something in order to reduce the risk of that bad thing happening again.
Each time you learn and act upon the lessons of an unwelcome event, you change the dice of life and reduce the chances of it landing on that same thing for a second time.
Failure to learn the lessons means you might find life repeating itself to your detriment.
Returning once again to our examples…
If you continue to leave your car parked without additional security measures, it will continue to catch the eye of thieves.
If you continue to leave little contingency time for important journeys, you will continue to miss connections and important occasions.
If you continue to be lax in your hygiene, not just when visiting hospitals, but anywhere really, you continue to risk infection and illness.
So, here’s the third reason why bad things keep happening to you: you aren’t learning your lesson.
But if you secure your car, leave additional time on your journeys, and wash your hands thoroughly whenever is sensible, you learn from your mistakes and reduce the odds of bad things happening.
So ask yourself whether the bad things that have recently happened to you have happened before.
If they have, ask whether there was anything you could have done to prevent the subsequent occurrence.
Are You Ignoring The Good Things That Happen?
Sometimes we perceive a series of bad things as being unbroken.
Just one bad thing after another.
But are you seeing things wrong? Are you ignoring the good things that have happened in between the bad?
In psychology, this is known as filtering.
Filtering is the process by which a person focuses their attention on either the positive or negative aspects of a situation.
In our case, the situation is life in general and we are focusing our attention on all the negative things that take place.
Are you forgetting the pay rise you got in between your car getting stolen and you missing your flight?
Did you overlook the joyous family day at the beach the weekend before last?
Just as it’s a fact of life that bad things happen, it’s a fact that good things happen too.
Sometimes through your own actions and sometimes spontaneously, positive outcomes and experiences happen.
But if you do not recognize them and keep them in mind, you may be fooled into thinking that only bad things are happening to you.
Thus, the fourth and final reason why bad things keep happening to you is: they aren’t, you just overlook the good.
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How To Cope When Bad Things Happen To You
When you are faced with negative circumstances, whether through fate or fault, what can you do to get through them?
1. Accept that what has happened has happened.
A common reaction to some unwelcome event or circumstance is outrage and denial.
You may literally seethe with anger that this could happen to you.
“What did I do to deserve this?”
“I can’t believe this has happened to me.”
“I’m not going to take this!”
All things you might think or say in the immediate aftermath of something bad happening.
Your mind goes into overdrive as you try to figure out what exactly has happened, how it happened, and who is to blame.
Instead, accept that it has happened and just sit with that thought for a minute or two.
Yes, you will want to find any lessons that might exist, but that doesn’t have to happen straight away.
In fact, you are better of reflecting on events a little later when the dust has settled and you are thinking more clearly.
For now, just accept that you cannot change what has already happened. Your power lies in what you do next.
2. Ask what you can do to remedy the situation.
Your actions are your most powerful tool in getting through difficult situations.
You can’t simply think your way out of a hole.
If there are some practical steps that you need to take to move closer to resolving this unwelcome period of your life, take them.
If your car has been stolen, you’ll need to ring the police and your insurance company.
Set the ball rolling on the things that will return your life to normal and your mind to peace.
The sooner you start, the sooner you can feel better about things.
3. Ask for help.
At times of crisis, it’s okay – even sensible – to lean on your loved ones.
Just as you would go out of your way to help a friend or family member who was in trouble, there are people out there who would do the same for you.
It’s human nature to want to help those we care about, so you are not being a burden to anyone by asking for help.
You might even find that times like these bring people closer together. Your friendships may strengthen; your relationships might grow deeper.
Even if all you ask of someone is to listen to you pouring out your frustrations, sadness, anger, or other emotions, it can help you deal with whatever has transpired.
Yes, something unpleasant has happened to you, but you are not alone in that.
The dice of life are always being rolled and many people are facing similar or worse situations to you right now.
Whilst this thought may not bring you much comfort, it can provide a different perspective on the thing that has befallen you.
You might no longer see yourself as uniquely unfortunate, but as one of many people who have suffered more than one bad thing in quick succession.
This shift in thinking can also help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll know that bad things can’t keep happening forever and that a more favorable period is on the horizon.
5. Know that you’ll get through this.
Your record for getting through the tough times in life so far is 100%.
This should comfort you to know that you will get through this too.
You are stronger and more resilient that you give yourself credit for and you will come out the other side.
Whether it takes a week, a month, or many years, you will get through this difficult time.
6. Look for the good amongst the bad.
Not all bad things have good in them. Some things are just plain awful and these should be recognized as such.
But many things that appear and feel bad on the surface have glimmers of good within them.
Losing a job, for example, can be extremely stressful. Yet, you might find new employment at a better company for higher pay and with a shorter commute.
If you hadn’t lost your job, you might never have considered applying for new positions elsewhere and so you’d remain where you were.
A mini stroke is a scary thing to experience, of this there is no doubt. But it might bring to light some health issues you have and allow you to make lifestyle choices to prevent a more serious stroke from occurring.
Wherever possible, look for the silver lining in what is an otherwise unpleasant event.
It will help you feel more positive about the future.
7. Make the bad thing a turning point in your life.
Often, we see bad things as anchors that can hold us back. We get lost in self-pity and forget about the power we have to change our situation.
Instead, when something bad happens to you, use it and the insights you have gained from it to drive your life forward in another direction.
Bad things can teach us a lot about the type of life we want to lead. They can blow away the clouds that prevent us from seeing things with clarity.
You may realize what matters most to you and adjust your lifestyle to get more of it.
Unforeseen circumstances might reveal that you aren’t living in accordance with your morals or values. This gives you the opportunity to change course.
Bad things might simply wake you up out of the sleepwalking state you have gotten into through years of monotony.
Use these things as the fuel you need to ignite your engines and turn your life around.
Still not sure how to deal with all the negative things that are happening to you? Speak to a therapist today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.