Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What have I done to deserve this?

                                             What have I...
                                             What have I done to deserve this?

Perhaps, nothing. While there are situations in which it makes sense to see good things or bad things  happening to a person as a consequence of their own actions, that they deserve the good things and the bad things that resulted from their actions, the inclination to make that connection is often a product of distorted, harmful patterns of thinking; an inclination oriented toward shielding us from similar bad things happening to us and precluding a more empathetic response, such as "that could well have been me".

If you were listening to music in the Eighties you probably recognize the above refrain from the Pet Shop Boys; one of their best songs in my estimation.  It's a refrain that I hear with some frequency from friends and clients; sometimes in its positive manifestations; most frequently in its negative ones. The positive manifestation being the assumption that I must have done something good to be worthy of the goodies in my life and the negative that, if things are going badly, I must have somehow done something wrong.  Those complementary assumptions ultimately rest upon the belief that the universe is governed by some sort of moral code or balance, whereby the good is rewarded and the bad punished.