Let’s Break Through the Phrase “Everything Happens for a Reason”

How many times have you heard the phrase “everything happens for a reason?” Maybe you just experienced a breakup, lost a loved one, got laid off or fired, or you are in the deepest part of your anxieties and shadow. You turn to a friend in that moment of vulnerability and they say with a good heart and solid intention, “everything happens for a reason.”  Although those words seem comforting, when you’re in that space, the last thing you want to hear is that you are experiencing pain for a reason. Or suffering in the world happens for a reason. Or a traumatic event happened because of some reason. 

This phrase has lost it’s meaning in a lot of ways. It has become a bandaid on the open wound of feeling what you need to feel. It has become an unsteady step in the ladder of healing. When you are experiencing pain, it is so important to be in it for a minute. This phrase has become a new route to run away from feeling in many respects. 

This idea reminds me of something this therapist and teacher said to me once. She explained that when someone is crying, our immediate reaction is to get them tissues and hug them. This isn’t actually helpful or supportive, because then it makes the person feel like they have to stop crying and can’t be in that vulnerable space. It’s so intuitive to try and ease someone’s suffering by reminding them of the good, but it becomes more detrimental when it deprives them of feeling and processing. Sometimes you gotta be in the shit and sit in it. 

“Everything happens for a reason” also tends to enforce people’s beliefs that they are not supposed to be feeling any “negative” emotions. In a lot of teachings we hear about “positive thinking” that quickly can turn into this aggressive form of optimism that is actually very damaging and isolating and denies people of their humanity. This thought process creates feelings of guilt and shame for feeling a natural human emotion. Then the emotion doesn’t get expressed and then it either explodes out one day or comes out in passive aggressive ways. 

To think positively is not to deny yourself of the ebbs and flows of life — sometimes life is hard! It is blending faith, integrity, responsibility, and choosing wholeness over trying to be perfect.

You are not failing because you are feeling. You are healing because you are feeling.

There is very little space to feel bad in our world today. This is your reminder that it is okay to not be okay sometimes. That doesn’t make you “negative”, or weak, or damaged. It makes you human, real, and authentic. It isn’t a permanent state of being, but rather an opportunity to heal up and to see who you are and what you’re made of. Remember, bravery isn’t the absence of fear, it is feeling it and doing it anyway. Strength isn’t the absence of trials, it is getting through them.

Think of the tower tarot card. When people pull this card, immediate panic ensues. They see the imagery of a tower burning down, lightening striking, people jumping out of the windows in distress, and immediately feel uncomfortable which is totally understandable. No one wants to feel that way and no one wants to go through feelings of distress or change. But what this card represents is truth and the destruction of illusion. This card not only reminds you that it is okay to feel uncomfortable and invites you to feel it, but reminds you that through this discomfort truth and wisdom set in.

The beauty in the tower tarot card is that the walls you built are coming down. Anything that has held you back is being seen. This is the beginning of the healing process that brings you to the next card in the Fool’s Journey in tarot, which is the star. So yes, this process is uncomfortable — and it is powerful. When your body heals physically, it’s usually pretty gross looking and uncomfortable. Scabbing is itchy and it burns, but it means that our body is healing that wound. This is the same reality when your spirit is healing. It is messy, uncomfortable, and it can appear worse than it was. However, healing is happening, and the only way to get that is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

So, does everything happen for a reason?

I don’t know, I don’t have a solid answer to that. But what I do know is that sometimes the most profound, spiritual, healing moments are a fucking mess. And, we can all be a fucking mess. And there is beauty in that mess, even if the reason is not clear. Life happens and you end up entering the unknown or the darkness and it pushes us into panic mode. This darkness is not to be feared, it is the womb space, the place where creation happens. So instead of asking yourself “why is this happening” try asking “what do I want to create from this?” 

Maybe your walls are being broken down to receive, and you’re cracking open instead of breaking, but it doesn’t negate the fact that the process can be painful. Regardless of the reason you are feeling pain, you're in it. So be in it, feel it, and when you’re ready, transform it to serve you. Who knows, maybe the “reason” is just what you create from it. Perspective is a natural part of the healing process once you release your emotions and empty yourself. It leaves a space for gifts to settle in.

Maybe we don’t need to make sense of it in the moment. Maybe we need to embrace the unknown instead. Maybe the point is to keep going through with curiosity instead of conclusions or judgement, even when you’re doubtful, or pissed, or hurt, or scared.  You know how they say hindsight is 20/20 vision? Let’s reflect on the why then.

In the meantime, let’s choose self-nourishment and care. Let’s be okay with being a human being. Let’s be vulnerable and try and be okay in that. Let’s embrace our depth and emotions and own it. Your emotions are your power. Don’t check out, and don’t place a bandaid on an open wound. Be in it for a minute. Live it. Feel it. Explore. Heal. Welcome to being alive — we’re all in it together. Kinda comforting, huh?

What is your experience with this phrase? How do you break it down? Share your thoughts by commenting and let’s gain more perspective.