Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life isn’t fair

This is an interesting concept that comes up reasonably often in psychotherapy. Indeed I will often bring this idea up with a client. Some people have the belief that life should be fair. That people are reasonably equal and if something unfortunate happens to some one then something should happen in response to that to make things fair.

From what I have seen of people, most have a view that fairness in life is a good thing. The whole concept of I’m OK, you’re OK is based on fairness and that people are equally OK. Anti discrimination laws are based on a view that fairness is a good thing. People are not discriminated against because they are of a particular race or gender. Indeed the whole legal system of some countries has the idea of life being fair at its core. The adage of “an eye for an eye” could be seen to take on the concept that life should be fair.

Inidan guys

However in counselling the more one has the view that life should be fair the more they will suffer psychologically. If a person has the view or belief that life isn’t fair (sometimes) then they are more psychologically robust and healthy. Whilst one may want life to be fair and governments often publicly espouse that view of society, in the reality of day to day living, life just isn’t fair, sometimes. For a person to accept this allows them to be more adjusted to life and to not get stuck or fixated.

The person who’s Child ego state accepts that life isn’t fair (sometimes) is more psychologically robust than the individual who does not accept this view. This unfairness can range from the banal to tragic. You are waiting in a car in a long line of traffic. Another car passes you in the empty lane beside you and then pushes in up the front of the line. That isn’t fair and an example of minor acts of unfairness that we come across each and every day.

At the other end of the scale, your spouse is walking along the road and is run down and killed by a drunk driver. The trial comes and the driver gets a very minor sentence. Some may find this grossly unfair. The more the individual can understand that this was a grossly unfair set of events and then accept that sometimes life just isn’t fair the less they will be negatively impacted by it.

As mentioned before the more one accepts that life is not fair (sometimes) the less likely they are to get stuck or fixated on an event. What is wrong with getting fixated on an event? Consider the words of Deepak Chopra

“Holding on to anything is like holding on to your breath. You will suffocate.” 

Accepting that life isn’t fair allows one to avoid the process of getting stuck on an unfair event. It allows one to move through life and ‘let go’ of past events more easily than the person who has the view that life should be fair.

Family dinner time
Some subcultures of society operate on the basis of an 'eye for an eye'. That is fair.

This takes on special importance when working with a client on their childhood traumas. Many people have feelings that unfair things happened to them as children. The more they accept that life isn’t fair the more they will be able to move on from and transcend those early events that trouble them in the here and now.


1 comment:

  1. In the modern era, given all the news we have pushed at us through mass media around the clock, it defies all reason that anyone could even hope for anything about living in this world to be fair. Even so, like you say, there are people who seem to be constantly disappointed because something or someone failed to meet their expectations. It must be they somehow feel entitled to have everything the way it should be (the way they want it to be). Where does that come from? Is it because their parents overindulged them?