Why me?

‘Why me?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions in career and life coaching conversations.

  • Why does the boss always have to pick on me?
  • Why do I get all the rude clients?
  • Why do I have to do the overtime job when everyone else has left?
  • Why can’t anyone else handle the petty cash for a change?
  • Why do I have to be the only one who stutters when we must speak up in meetings?
  • And why does everyone have a reserved parking slot except me?
  • Why do I get the blame for the deal we lost?
  • Why do I have to end up in this dead-end job?

A similar string of ‘Why me?’ questions is raised about private life:

  • Why do I only attract lousy boyfriends?
  • Why have all my friends made it by 40 and I don’t even own a house?
  • Why does my kid have to be the one that is bullied on the playground?
  • Why did I not inherit anything and all went to my sisters?
  • Why did I have to be sick just when there was a job opportunity?
  • Why did that idiot have to drive into my car and wreck it?
  • What did I do to deserve this – I’ve never hurt anyone?
  • Why is my child autistic but all the other kids in my family are normal?
  • Why did she leave me?

Why me? Why me?

It is interesting to observe that the Why me?s are all lamenting negative things: perceived injustices singling out just ‘me’ as the person it befell. ‘I’ve been wronged, it’s so unfair!’  The emotional response is so intense that the wronged, unhappy person feels like the victim of fate or circumstance.

Some people nurse this victim status forever. That is tragic. As much for themselves as for everyone around them. But most of us sooner or later face the fact that life dishes out unfair things to everyone.  We are not the centre of the universe. We don’t live in Xanadu, that fabled idyllic paradise of luxury and contentment. We wake up and we get real. Nothing is to be gained from the victim outlook. We notice that others are far worse off than we are and we get things into perspective.

It is interesting that when people gain a positive advantage, they don’t seem to lament ‘Why me?’ There doesn’t seem to be much need to question a bonus or a happy outcome!

To come to terms with the ‘Why me and what did I do to deserve this?’ is one of the toughest philosophical issues about the human condition. It’s been debated through the centuries and unraveled in thick tomes that fill libraries … testimony of how difficult it is to find straight answers. Yet this timeless question is still ‘unfinished business’ and still lands in everyone’s lap today.

The ‘Why me?’ is part of our questing to find the real meaning of our life and to give value to the uniqueness of our position on the planet. Nobody wants to be a useless nobody. The ‘Why me?’ question can actually be transformed into ‘How can I give meaning to my life?’ And to do that is to take the opposite stance from the ‘victim outlook’. That is when we turn things around, embrace responsibility and take charge. Then we may say:

  • If I don’t take the initiative, no-one else will.
  • If I don’t approach this business as a potential client, someone else will beat me at the game.
  • If I don’t make the first move to fix things between us, it may stay nasty forever.
  • If I don’t show compassion to this person now, that person may be completely lost.
  • If I don’t speak my truth now, we may go on a long time living a lie.
  • If I don’t expose the corruption in our department, I will hate myself for staying part of it.
  • If I don’t take the risk, nothing is going to change –

… So let me just do it…  ‘Why not!’