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Life Is Not Fair – Is That A Good Or Bad Thing?

life is not fair, Matthew McConaughey, An Ideal Husband, Oscar Wilde, morality, victim, entitlement, Condoleezza Rice, Lord Goring, Robert Chiltern

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to explore the concept of fairness – life is not fair – but is that always a bad thing – and what can you do about it?

First a quick update:  

The Breakup Test

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Are You Being Treated Poorly? Who Is Controlling You?

Do people treat you badly? You teach others how to treat you. You have conscious control; you can set your boundaries, so why do you let others treat you poorly? Are you a people-pleaser? Watch the video

Now, let’s talk about the concept of fairness – life is not fair – but is that always a bad thing and what can you do about it?

Working with clients over many years, I have discovered that one of the core issues common to all of us is the way we blame ourselves for things that happen that are beyond our control. A child is abused, and still subconsciously blames herself – even though, now as an adult, she is fully aware that she did nothing wrong.

With the intention of helping her to have compassion for herself and to release the self-blame, in the direct context of the process, I ask her to express as if to the child, “I am sorry that this happened. It was unfair. It was not fair because you did nothing wrong. It was not fair because there is nothing wrong with you and it wasn’t your fault that this was done to you, that you were abused and hurt.”

The subconscious acceptance of both the unfairness of life and the truth that it was not her fault helps a client to set herself free of the pain of self-pity, bitterness and self-judgement.

However, it also raises the question of life and fairness; is life ever fair; what would our world be like if life were fair?

I believe that most people would not hesitate for a moment to say that life is never fair, and life would be so much better for all of us if it were fair.

Is that true? Would life be best if it were fair?

It would for children who are innocent and were treated unfairly – abandoned, neglected, abused, unloved, unsupported, uncared for, robbed of love and affection.

What about youth and adults; would life be so superior if it were fair and we all received what we truly deserved; if we all paid the price of our actions, of every action and every mistake? Perhaps, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”, as the Bible says?

“An Ideal Husband” is a play written by Oscar Wilde in 1894, revolving around blackmail, political corruption, love, marriage, the significance of one’s past, and truth versus lying.

Sir Robert Chiltern is a highly successful person and politician. But he amassed his success and wealth also thru an illegal action; he had sold a cabinet secret for a large sum of money in his youth. Now, many years later, someone is blackmailing him, threatening to reveal his secret and thus destroy his political life and marriage.

Sir Robert Chiltern turns to his friend Lord Goring for advice and help:
Arthur, do you think that what I did nearly eighteen years ago should be brought up against me now? Do you think it fair that a man’s whole career should be ruined for a fault done in one’s boyhood almost? I was twenty-two at the time, and I had the double misfortune of being well-born and poor, two unforgiveable things nowadays. Is it fair that the folly, the sin of one’s youth, if men choose to call it a sin, should wreck a life like mine, should place me in the pillory, should shatter all that I have worked for, all that I have built up. Is it fair, Arthur?

Lord Goring:
Life is never fair, Robert. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.

Here Lord Goring exposes something we rarely consider: if life were fair, then we would all have to suffer the consequences of every wrong thing we did – no matter how large or how small.

Isn’t it true, even for you, that we often escape being punished for the wrong things we did – and yet sometimes punished for things we didn’t do?

When we focus on the things that were unfair – being punished when it wasn’t our fault, or we were being human and made mistakes, then we scream that life is never fair! And yet we forget about the times we got away with other mistakes or wrongdoings, perhaps some serious.

What would happen if you paid the consequences for every little mistake you made, even for the ones no one immediately noticed, such as speeding or breaking some other rule? Would you still be grateful for life’s fairness?

Perhaps the answer reveals itself in one of Lord Goring’s other speeches:

“Nobody is incapable of doing a foolish thing. Nobody is incapable of doing a wrong thing.”

Here Goring acknowledges universal human imperfection: We are all going to make mistakes and do wrong things. Later he says:

“All I do know is that life cannot be understood without much charity, cannot be lived without much charity.” Here he refers to charity meaning kindness and tolerance in judging others – forgiveness and compassion.

Life is not fair and sometimes that is to our advantage, while at other times, it truly hurts us. If we are spared, we believe life is fair; if we are not, then we wail over life’s unfairness. When I was 13, a teacher privately informed me that although I had received the highest scores throughout the year, they were giving the annual prize of best student to another boy who was ‘less fortunate’ – he was from a minority.

How many examples can you provide of life’s unfairness, and, how many examples of things you got away with?

In the end, what truly matters is our response to the truth that life is not fair. What makes the difference is the extent to which we can express compassion and forgiveness to ourselves and others, while choosing to focus on the things over which we have control, namely our thoughts and emotions, and taking action versus painting ourselves as an eternal victim. “It is not the perfect but the imperfect who have need of love. It is when we are wounded by our own hands…that Love should come to cure us.”

“Life’s not fair. It never was, isn’t now and won’t ever be. Do not fall into the entitled trap of feeling like you’re a victim. You are not.” Matthew McConaughey

“The sooner you learn that life is not fair, the better off you’ll be, because you’ll spend less time railing against life’s unfairness and feeling aggrieved and entitled, and more time figuring out how to maximize your assets, and your talents and how to deal with things that you’re not very good at.”  – Condoleezza Rice

If you would like help to be more accepting of yourself and things over which you have no control, and if you would like to take charge of your life and express compassion and to overcome a traumatic event or let go of the past, book a one-on-one session with me.

You can add to the conversation below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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