Getting Over the “Its Not Fair” Syndrome
Life is not always fair, but we can learn to roll with the punches and make new choices along the way. We always have the choice to change.
By Anne Leedom
I remember so clearly sitting next to my dad as we drove through town. I was discussing some injustice I had suffered and he looked directly at me and said, “no one ever said life was fair.” I was completely devastated. Later on as my marriage crumbled in spite of my ongoing efforts to hold it together, I could still hear those words echo in my heart. Now as I raise two kids alone, attempt to build a new relationship and to expand my business, I am forced every day to face this inevitable truth. I decided to stop running from the obvious and to accept my dad’s wisdom, albeit with the help of a few sound strategies I’ve learned along the way. Here are ten ways to get over the “it’s not fair syndrome.”
Stop Comparing We choose for ourselves what seems fair by comparing our lives and circumstances to those of others around us. Resolve to evaluate your life based only on what you want for yourself and not based on what others seem to have. There is a plan for each of us. Having faith in that plan will create a sense of fairness regardless of your circumstances.
Take Charge of Your Beliefs We are often conditioned from a young age to expect certain things in life as we grow up. However, as an adult we need to let go of the beliefs and expectations that are not working for us. Create a life around beliefs that are consistent with what you do have and what you can achieve realistically, and not on what you thought you would have or what you feel you are entitled to.
Grieve and Move On Sometimes life does hand us a bad deal. Divorce, financial stress, loss, health issues and other circumstances that are out of our control can be truly devastating and leave us feeling that life is truly not fair. However, life will be less of a struggle when you accept that no matter how well you take care of yourself, nurture your relationships and protect your children, bad things do happen to smart and careful people. Staying stuck in that pain keeps us in the place of ‘life isn’t fair’. It is only in coming to terms with our grief and realizing that everyone suffers at one time or another that we can move on.
Relinquish Resentment and Set New Goals Often we work very hard to achieve something that just doesn’t work out and we are disappointed, or even devastated. It feels like our life has fallen apart. Adding insult to injury, if we see someone else succeed at what we hoped for—especially if that person does not seem as dedicated or hardworking—it is only human to feel resentful. However, holding on to that frustration can keep you from moving forward. If whatever you are working on is not working, take a step back, re-assess and set a new goal that has a better chance of success. Use other people’s success as motivation and model to do better yourself. It doesn’t matter if it should have worked. If it isn’t working, move on.
Redefine the Concept of Fair Often we look to a divine power to be completely and totally responsible for our lives. We say, it isn’t fair that I didn’t get that job or my marriage didn’t work out, etc. because of how we believe that the universe should care for us blindly. Our lives are a team effort with the divine. Our part is to do the best we can and then to see past the moment into the bigger picture and knowing that ultimately what happens is part of that plan. Often things are much fairer then we realize at the time.
Give Up on Control There are so many chaotic events in the world and in our lives, and in an attempt to cope we often cultivate a need to control as many things as we can. However, this can be a delicate balance. The sense of ‘it’s not fair’ often comes from the need to control things in our life that in spite of our best efforts we simply do not have ultimate control over. Develop a healthy balance between giving things your best effort and then understanding ultimately it is out of your control. Put your efforts into the process but learn to let go of the need to control the outcome.
Build a ‘Fairness Support Circle’ Whatever issues are troubling you are most likely issues that many others are also struggling with as well. Don’t isolate yourself, which can lead to a crippling sense of life being unfair. When you share your pain and circumstances with others and realize you are not alone, you can turn the sense of “it isn’t fair” into compassion and eventually, action to let go.
Reflect on the Truth With a few possible exceptions, many of the difficult things that happen to us in life are the direct result of choices we have made. In many cases our circumstances may be due to a choice to avoid doing something we needed to do. Take a hard look at your circumstances that seem so unfair and ask yourself the hard questions about what you did do or not do that might have increased the chances of this happening to you.
Get Help When Needed Sometimes life’s challenges can be debilitating. Getting caught up in the “its not fair” syndrome is also a way to avoid dealing with real pain. Getting professional help at this point may be the only way you can look at the real issues that may be plaguing you and to get the tools you need to move forward past your current pain into a place of hope and possibility once again.
Accept that Life isn’t Fair Sometimes the best way to get past the life “isn’t fair” syndrome is to accept that life is indeed unfair in many cases. We will see others succeed that don’t seem to deserve it. It is only in truly accepting that we don’t know the whole picture—or why things happen as they do–that we can move on. It is not for any of us to say why things happen as they do. Let go of the idea you have total control and you might find that the only time fairness enters your world is when it relates to how you treat others.
Anne Leedom is the publisher of www.parentingbookmark.com, a national parenting website for raising caring kids. Anne is also the Founder of www.netconnectpublicity.com, a premier online placement agency for experts and authors. Anne writes for various national websites including Beliefnet.com and Drlaura.com. She lives in Northern California with her two daughters.