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The "Why Me?" Controversy

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

We can live our lives with passivity or with action. What tends to happen is living with a bit of both. I was once taking a yoga class which threaded Jung's quote beautifully. The instructor didn't quote Jung directly, but asked us to look at adversity and decide if we wanted to build a stairwell of despair or a staircase to opportunity? I couldn't tell you the sequence she lead us through that day, but I can tell you, her theme resonated with me even 5+ years later. I have carried it with me through my own live and passed it along to others.

What Jung is speaking to, is the age old question of destiny, a la, "Am I destined to suffer?" The answer is yes and no. We all suffer - we just have differing amounts of suffering. There is generally know magic answer to "why did I get this much?" You just did - but most of the time it has little to do with you. Your suffering is unique to you and you should have compassion with yourself if you choose to come to terms with it (through processing, examining, then letting go). So the short answer is yes, you were destined to suffer -- I've yet to meet someone who has not had some form of pain in their life.

However, what Jung is posing to you, is if you will passively accept your suffering as fate? Will you throw your hands up in the air, fall on your knees and scream, "Why me?" I should point out, I've been there -- you've been there too. I get it.

But, you see, Jung is also giving you the key to potential action an opportunity to change your course and lessen the weight adversity has on you. He is basically saying, "If you want to change something in your life or want to alter a maladaptive pattern, you have to go inside your soul." In less esoteric words, this means looking into your unconsciousness, into your past.

And how the hell do we do that? Well, you start with a sense of curiosity. Maybe posing questions such as, "I wonder why I am the way I am?" "I wonder why I always date emotionally unavailable guys?" "Why do I tend to get angry so easily, especially when it feels like someone is making me a second choice?"

Once you get curious, you have to grab your figurative flash light and peak into the past. We don't live in the past, however, the only way out of our patterns is THROUGH the past (I know this can be scary, but potential change is often on the other side of fear). You begin to poke around, looking at your childhood, your memories of early connection, of emotional expression/love expression within your family, society or your peer group, and maybe even looking at significant experiences of fear, loss or disconnection. This is where it's often helpful to have someone witness your findings - most likely a spiritual advisor, therapist, etc. Because, while we are the experts in terms of our capital S, Self, were are naturally biased and emotionally connected to those experiences.

Then, here is where the real dissection begins. We start peeling off the layers of the unconscious onion and see what is discovered. Are we mimicking an unhealthy emotional response, maybe one which reminds us of our parents? Are we dating men or women who's relationship we have seen play out in movies, TV shows, peer groups, or our very own households? Are we mislabeling unhealthy interactions as exciting, fulfilling or meaningful?

After looking through the opposite lens, can we begin to hypothesize reactions, interactions and connections that feel different, probably unfamiliar or unpredictable, but we must be willing to give them a try, to see if they give us the same results. After that, we either stick with the new way, or try another one. Bravery here is a must.

And once we find a new mode of action, it will take practice x 100, because it is new - it will feel unpredictable, because it is. But don't mislabel your old pattern as comfortable, because it was far from that, it was just what you knew.

Your new way may not work either; but know you are a work in progress and you have all the power to TRY AGAIN!

Not all of us will be ready to "go there." My hope, is that you will at least begin to question it -- to become a strong active force in your own healing and become your own vehicle of change. Good luck!

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