The biggest post-breakup lie we tell ourselves (and that others tell us)
Welcome to another weekly newsletter, lovingly named the “Beyond The Breakup Newsletter.”
It’s the newsletter that provides you with big ideas on how to grow and improve as a person and build better relationships so you can avoid a future breakup.
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Along with the fancy weekly newsletter, I’m also going to give you access to 4 exercises that will help you stop obsessing over your ex as soon as you sign up.
Everything happens for a reason.
You’ve probably heard the phrase a gazillion times. I know I did. I told myself that exact line over and over and over again when my exes kept dumping me. Even my family and friends kept telling me the phrase over and over and over again.
In retrospect, I understand that my entire family and most of the people I know operate on that phrase whenever they’re faced with adversity, calamity, or just about any other challenge life brings to the doorstep.
Well, enough is enough. The whole “Everything happens for a reason” thing pisses me off. I don’t buy into it. I think the entire thing is just a coping mechanism. Nothing happens for a fucking reason.
Sometimes, terrible things just happen. There’s no logical reason behind why they happened; they just did.
So how could someone look at you at your personal rock bottom, barely holding up your shattered-and-gushing-with-blood heart, and tell you this empty phrase?
Three reason, actually: because it reflects an underlying religious or spiritual belief; because they want to oversimplify and rationalize a complex situation; because they want to avoid telling you a harsh truth.
Let’s unpack these ideas further.
1. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON (BECAUSE THERE’S A HIGHER POWER)
Oh, you broke up with your partner? Relax, God/The Universe/Flying Spaghetti Monster has a plan. Everything happens for a reason. Just have faith.
You see this idea thrown around most, if not all, religious and spiritual circles. In fact, “Everything happens for a reason” became somewhat of a go-to standard for the people in those communities.
Also, since the idea is based on faith, you can’t really disprove it, which by itself can cause frustrations. Think: when people comfort you when you’re grieving over your ex, but you don’t believe in the same things they believe in.
At its core, believing in some higher power, believing that life makes sense, believing that whoever or whatever has a grand plan for you is nothing more but a coping mechanism — it makes life and your pain more manageable and easier to grasp.
Let me put it this way. Planting your hope on an unquestionable, abstract, and divine concept helps you get out of bed every morning and participate in life. This by itself is good. However, there’s also a dark side to the whole thing.
Until you hide under the belief that everything happens for a reason, the odds of figuring out why your relationship hasn’t worked out are relatively minuscule.
2. Everything must happen for a reason (because I can’t admit my mistake)
Maybe we broke up because I cheated on them? Maybe we broke up because I hardly paid any attention to them? Maybe we broke up because I was needy, possessive, and controlling? Nah, impossible. Actually… it’s not even important! Everything happens for a reason, anyways. I’ll just find someone else in due time.
Don’t be this person. Don’t hide behind the delusion of “everything happens for a reason” to avoid pondering on the idea that you may also have to do something with your failed relationship.
Admit that you may have messed up. Admit that the breakup may be just as much your fault as it is the fault of your ex. Admit that you could have done things differently and avoided the whole thing.
Then accept all of it. Take radical responsibility for your fuckups, and finally, forgive yourself (and your ex, too, while you’re at it).
We all make mistakes in life. It’s fine. The important thing is to not delude ourselves into thinking we haven’t made any. This will only limit the capacity of how much we can learn and grow in spite of those mistakes, in spite of your pain.
Ultimately, everything doesn’t happen for a reason, but everyone makes mistakes. Claim yours and move on.
3. There Must Be Meaning in Everything
My ex was divinely orchestrated for me, intended to come into my life and break my heart so I could learn valuable lessons that will better my future relationships. Thank you, oh great space-manatee!
This is just one example of the philosophical theatrics we play with ourselves. We try to make sense of our greatest and most horrid moments — we try to make sense of life.
We play all sorts of mental gymnastics with ourselves until we’re sure that event A leads to event B, and event B led to event C.
But that’s not reality. It’s usually like event A, leads to event G, which then leads to event K, loops five times, comes back to G, and then get’s to B.
Basically, the law of cause and effect can go fuck itself. Forget about cause-and-effect altogether. Usually, the two have nothing in common.
Life is inherently random, chaotic, and absurd. You can’t make sense of it — you can’t make sense of the nonsensical. So let it go.
Sometimes honest and innocent people get dumped. Sometimes honest and innocent people get betrayed. Sometimes honest and innocent people develop a depression-cancer combo and then get miserable and shoot themselves in the skull while being covered in cocaine and reeking of cheap wine.
This is a brutal and painful reality to face. But it is the world we live in.
How to cope with the uncomfortable reality
The key to dealing with everything, good or bad, is to make the best choice we can with our available options. Then surrender to the outcome, whatever it may be, without any expectations.
Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. The more you try, the more you’ll fail. The only thing you can really control is how you react to the things around you and the experiences you face. And even those things can’t be fully controlled.
When we try to control everything, all we’re really doing is suppressing the insecure parts of ourselves that are afraid of how out of control life is.
Here’s one last takeaway (that you’ve probably seen coming). You didn’t meet or break up with your ex for some extraordinary or special reason. It was all a result of sheer randomness. However, don’t let that revert you from being grateful it happened. Be grateful. Hell, fill your heart with gratefulness until it ruptures. Many people never know what love even is.