Last week was one of those weeks when nothing, and I mean nothing, would go right. It was almost comical the amount of misfortune I was having. It ranged from locking myself out of my bedroom to my kids letting the family dog out of the front door "accidentally", heh. I must have been a sight running down the block with a bag full of deli turkey meat trying to coax the family pet to come back home. As I'm dangling this turkey while the dog taunts me from the middle of the road, I'm thinking to myself "why can't things just be easy?". It's a thought I try not to allow myself to have but I'm human and sometimes I do wonder, why does it seem like a black cloud is always following me?
I am learning, I think, in my healing from trauma that I can sometimes go through a bit of cognitive dissonance - erratic thoughts that lead to erratic behaviors - my brain tries to desperately make sense of two very different situations and can sometimes be at war with itself; ex: 1) my husband was a good man that would never intentionally hurt me and 2) my husband was a monster who had betrayed me beyond belief. These two thoughts on opposite sides of the spectrum causing me to sit for hours and try and make sense of the conflicting beliefs.
Leon Festinger came up with something called the Cognitive Dissonance Theory in which he states that avoiding this cognitive dissonance is possible, but it has a downside to it; to avoid it we have to blame someone or something for the unpleasant things. He also suggests that there are no accidents in life, no coincidences; bad things do not just happen out of thin air. We invite these unfortunate things into our lives because we are part of nature, the ultimate form of life on the planet, and like all things for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Much like knocking that first domino over and the rest falling in rapid succession or a neutron causing the nucleus of a uranium atom to undergo fission in a nuclear reaction, your life is constantly going through a series of reactions caused by an action.
Inaction can also be an action and cause reactions. For example, remember back in high school when you'd go out with your friends to "study", and you were given a curfew usually followed by a stern look and threats of punishments if you weren't home by x time? There was always that one instance when the "studying" was so fun you forgot to keep track of time and happened to glance at the clock realizing you have five minutes to get home, but you live twenty minutes away. You rush home and walk in late to some very disgruntled parents who proceed to ground you for the next week. Your inaction of not paying attention to the time was an irresponsible action that led to an unpleasant reaction of being grounded.
Maybe our inactions that bring about equal & opposite reactions are the reason bad things happen to people. We do things every day in our lives that can negatively affect ourselves and those around us. My children opening the front door and letting the family pet out affected me. Not as bad as the betrayal of my husband but it caused me to have to take time - I didn't have to chase a dog with a piece of turkey, ultimately looking like a bizarre woman who'd lost her mind to those who witnessed this had the door not been opened.
Bad things happen to good people and the answer to why is quite simple if you think of it. You don't have to believe you were doomed to a life of misfortune and bad luck. If you understand that actions have reactions and not become so hyper-attuned into the bad things, you will see that there isn't a perpetual black cloud hanging over your head. If you have blinders on to all the good in your life the experiences in your mind become unbalanced and they lean in favor of you thinking you were unfairly destined to an ill-fated life.
So, it seems changing your state of mind, your perception, might work wonders. When you don't get that job you wanted instead of thinking "oh, that figures, nothing good ever happens to me", try turning this into a positive thought by telling yourself “There’s a better opportunity waiting for me". When you go right into thinking negative thoughts about yourself and expecting things to not go your way you become unable to see the good and you become stuck in this cyclone of crap thoughts that lead to crap behaviors that lead to becoming the ultimate Debby Downer. Just crap.
Identify the negative filter of your thoughts and sort through the unhealthy ways you have learned to adapt to stress in your life. Nothing is permanent, not even negative filters and stressors in life, unless you want them to be. Reflect on what causes you the most distress, what makes you have such negative thoughts about yourself. Remember, you are your own worst critic, and we all have a bit of perfectionist in us, not liking it when things don't go the way we think they should. Counter these negative thoughts with positive ones and should you ever find yourself having to lure the dog in with a piece of meat while making a spectacle of yourself, you'll be able to find a positive in the situation and a bit of humor. Life is what you make of it.