This can be a polarizing one, and it’s a topic that receives much debate between those who believe it does and those who don’t. Personally, I do believe everything happens for a reason and I almost always have, ever since I was a teenager struggling to get over the death of my father and before I even developed a spiritual connection.
I didn’t believe it at first and got really mad when people tried to say that to me in comfort. But eventually, I discovered that choosing to believe it allows you to let go of the anger and resentment about what happens to you, or at least make that process easier. This belief has helped me get through so many difficult things in my life. When something negative happens to us, it can feel like the end of the world. And it is, in a certain way. Something like cancer or a loss or a trauma ends our world as we know it. Our lives change in the blink of an eye. Perspectives shift. Our sense of safety and belief that life is infinite as it is, so carefully cultivated over the course of our lives up to this point, are rocked. We are changed instantaneously on deep levels and in as of yet unknown ways. In short, everything is upheaved, and we have to sort out the tangled roots of our upended lives.
But endings also mean beginnings. You can’t have one without the other. It’s an eventuality. And those new beginnings, those opportunities for growth and learning and gratitude and radical, positive change as a result of radical, negative change, are the reasons these things happen to us.
It’s not even that everything happens for some divine, predetermined reason; it’s that there is a positive reason for or result from most of the bad things that happen to us, but we have to choose to look for them. Looking for the silver linings, the benefits, the reasons, has brought more meaning, positivity and growth to my breast cancer journey than I ever could have imagined. Who knows, maybe one day something will happen that rocks this belief, but I liken it to faith in religion. I find it has made my life easier to just let go and believe it all happens for a reason, to have faith that whatever is coming is coming for a purpose.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard and takes a really long time (sometimes years and years) to be able to look back and pick out those positive outcomes, but I have always found them there. Absolutely, I would rather have my Dad around, but I wouldn’t be the same person without his death. It has made me stronger, more independent, more confident in my own ability to get through difficulties, and all of those are things that have served me well, especially this past two years. Being able to reflect on his loss and feel something other than anger and sadness, even if just a little something, is such a huge gift, one I never thought I would get. I lost him to cancer, and cancer returned a little bit of him to me in the form of courage and strength and confidence and independence. It has been quite beautiful, and I think he would be so happy and proud to know that what I learned and how I grew through his loss has become more evident to me and served me through my own journey with cancer.
I think many people look at the saying “everything happens for a reason” as an idealistic way of looking at negative events, one that naïve people who have never really had anything truly hard or terrible happen to them use to shrug off why their weekend plans fell through or their date went badly. But it can be so much more than that.
I don’t think it’s necessarily about getting to a place where you say, “My life is so much better after this terrible event. I’m so glad it happened!”, but it is about getting to a place where you can see the positives that have developed in spite or because of that terrible event. It might be as simple as we would never have met everyone here without cancer. If that doesn’t resonate with you and your cancer experience, or whatever your obstacle is, keep looking until you find something that does: stronger relationships and bonds, more gratitude in your life, a new perspective, more strength, the opportunity to be an incredible role model to those around you, the ability to help people through your experience, motivation to follow your dreams or make changes. Find as many as you can, as often as you can, and they will get easier to find with time. It’s like practicing gratitude; the more you do it, the more automatic it becomes.
Now, I don’t have to look very hard for the silver linings or the lessons; they just appear in my consciousness. It’s much like a coping mechanism for me, but one that is so much more positive and beneficial than some of the other options. Ignoring the traumas in our past and present, numbing them with alcohol or drugs, pushing them aside with deflections, holding onto anger and sadness, these are all options we can choose, but so is looking for the light instead. And in looking for that light, you will bring yourself out of the darkness.
Happy Healing ❤️