I Have Had Enough, Why Do Bad Things Keep Happening?
Updated December 03, 2019
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Galyen, LCSW, BC-TMH
Bad things to happen to good people. Good people also let bad things happen. Some people believe there is nothing that occurs in this universe that did not have a catalyst. For every action, there is an equal opposite reaction--this is the basic law of physics ("Newton's Third Law," n.d.). You probably remember studying this at some point in high school or college, but did you know that it can and does apply to our day-to-day lives?
Festinger's attribution theory states that to avoid cognitive dissonance, we must have someone or something to blame for "bad things." He also says there are no accidents in life. Bad things do not just happen. He believes we open the door to them and let bad things in. Whether this is true or not, we are not victims of nature, nor any supernatural force. We are a part of nature, and that makes us a part of every chain reaction. In other words, we are all connected, for good or bad.
So Why Do We Think We Are Victims?
In the movie Babel, a chain reaction of events began when a man's wife took her own life with a gun. When that happened, he decided to sell all of his guns to a poor goat farmer in the Middle East. This one act affected the lives of four separate families and caused a war that was ultimately blamed on terrorists.
Events such as these have happened in history and also occur in our daily lives. Inaction is action. We're often responsible for things that happen, even when we don't know our actions will cause a future problem. For example, you do not take out the trash on Wednesday night. You plan to take it out the following morning, but on Thursday morning you wake up late, so do not have time to take it out before trash pickup. The trash sits in your kitchen and overflows until next Thursday. Wednesday's inaction caused an equal and opposite reaction.
Or let's suppose you decide to drive home from work with less than a quarter tank of gas in your car. You pull into the driveway and are happy to have made it home, knowing that pulling over for gas would have caused a 30-minute delay. But timing is everything-later that night, you get a call that your son has been injured during football practice. You jump back into your car, completely forgetting you're almost out of gas. Just before you arrive at your son's school, the car starts to sputter and stalls. Four hours and $85 later, you're back home with your child. Roadside service saved the day and you made it to ER, but now you're exhausted and irritable.
Why Do Bad Things Happen?
Why do bad things happen? Sometimes things just happen, and we can't control them. But sometimes it's because our inactions create an equal and opposite reaction.
We do things every day that can adversely affect us or those around us. However, we can also perform actions that have positive effects. Learning how to take proactive action to make life easier is part of the journey. It isn't always an easy thing to do, but it's imperative if we hope to reduce the number of bad things happening in our lives. Here are some examples of simple acts that can prevent huge catastrophes:
- Regular oil changes and simple auto maintenance saves your car's engine.
- Replacing the batteries in smoke detectors can save lives.
- Locking doors and turning on the alarm deters intruders.
- Feeding the dog means he might not break into the trash.
- Taking the trash out mean it is unavailable to the dog.
- Brushing and flossing prevents root canals.
- Eating right and exercise prevents heart attacks.
- Staying off the phone while driving prevents accidents.
- Having a budget can greatly reduce the chance of financial stress.
- Setting your alarm a few minutes earlier can help you get to work on time.
If you or someone you know has had a "bad" thing happen, it's possible an action on this list or another easy action could have prevented it. It's important to prevent what you can to help life go more smoothly. Sometimes in life, things happen, and we can't prevent them. Some of these things will knock us down. Losing someone you love unexpectedly, for example, is something we can't prevent, but we can learn how to manage both the things we can prevent and the things we cannot.
Benjamin Franklin said the only two things in life we can be sure of are death and taxes; however, if we're proactive, we can at least delay death and reduce our taxable income.
What Does This Mean for Me?
Your life will often manifest what you put into it. If your goal is to prevent bad things from happening, you must make a change. You can't control everything, but you can become a more responsible and proactive person. If you see an issue that needs fixing, take care of it now instead of procrastinating. You can save yourself a potential headache and have a more peaceful life.
It's not always easy to make changes, but it's worth it. When your life seems to be full of negativity, use it as fuel. Remember the negative things that happened as a result of your inaction, and use that frustration to make things better next time. Life is largely a learning experience. Unfortunately, sometimes we learn the hard way that procrastination can cause more trouble than it's worth. If you want things to get better, you must make a commitment. If you aren't open to making a positive and permanent change, you won't see any results. Everyone struggles, but you can choose how to handle your struggles and take proactive steps to improve your life.
If you feel like you're caught in a negative spiral, you may need some extra help. Reach out to a licensed counselor or therapist to get the support you need. The counselors at BetterHelp are professionally trained and ready to help you. The BetterHelp platform is completely online, making it the most convenient and easy way to speak with a qualified counselor. See below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
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There are many things you can do to prevent bad things from happening and to cope when they do. If you're struggling or feel overwhelmed, therapy can help. You can learn to manage stress and lead the life you've always wanted. Take the first step today.