Nothing Bad that Happens is your Fault
I hope today's post makes you feel better. I base it on the articles I see that gain popular attention. We are misplaced in our worry that the media reports mostly negative news. It seems clear people prefer to be told only good news. Or put differently, if bad things happen, none of them are our fault.
Let's start with the assumption that you are a good person. I don't mean good as it relates to your impact on the world or on other people. Or good in the sense that you make a concrete contribution. I mean good in the sense that you have inherent worth as a person. You are uniquely special and valuable. Thus, you deserve all good things, and for only good things to happen to you.
Did you try out for a sports team and not make the cut? That's not your fault. The other players are probably juiced up on steroids. At least a handful of their parents are friends with the coach. And the selection process is obviously not fair, or the coach would have recognized your inherent worth.
Did you not get accepted by your favorite colleges? That's not your fault. Those nerds who spent the last four years brown-nosing teachers to get top grades have no life. The same people who spent the summer studying for the entrance exams were anyway going to get in. Their high scores just made it harder for normal people like you. Anyway, the entrance exams were clearly biased. The proof is in the results themselves! If the tests weren't discriminatory, you would have done better.
Did you not get offered the job by that hot startup company? That's not your fault. Despite their lofty value statements about diversity and inclusion, they only hire from Ivy League schools. And what's this about requiring two days a week in the office? Don't they realize that is blatantly discriminatory against people who need to work from home?
Did you miss out on the latest promotion in your department? That's not your fault. It's clear you must be a white male to get ahead in this company. Oh sure, there are plenty of examples of women, minorities, and others who have been promoted into leadership positions, but they are token sellouts. People who stay true to their principles would never let themselves be used that way.
Had a car accident in which you rear-ended the idiot who stopped for the yellow light? That's not your fault. Everyone knows you are supposed to speed up when the light turns yellow. To be so timid when driving is to invite a collision. Not only that, but with traffic being what it is, being on your phone while driving is perfectly acceptable. Thus, people need to be prepared for other drivers not paying attention at all times.
Have you been steadily gaining weight for the past ten years? That's not your fault. Clearly the food companies are the culprits because they only make unhealthy food. If they didn't add salt, sugar, and fat to everything, you wouldn't be tempted to eat so much. Now take restaurants. If they didn't make portions so huge, you would eat less. Don't get me started about crazy food prices. Why does soda cost less than water? What are you supposed to drink?
Don't have time to go to the gym or take a walk? That's not your fault. Someone has to pay the bills, and last you looked your kids weren't contributing anything to the household budget. By the time you get home from work, you are plain exhausted. Every normal person needs downtime to recharge for the stress of the coming day. Binge-watching the latest Netflix series is thus a form of holistic self-care.
Have you saved nothing for retirement? That's not your fault. You have a life to live and a certain lifestyle to maintain. All these people looking to you for money – the mortgage, car payment, streaming services, lottery tickets, and credit card debt. What are you supposed to do? Not go out to eat? Not take your vacations? Not relieve your stress by on-line shopping? I think not. To do otherwise is to deny your very worth as a person.
Are you estranged from family members? That's not your fault. In this case, it is indubitably their fault for being so ignorant about everything. Don't they see that their President is a doddering fool? That the things their party stands for make them little better than monsters? Billionaires are trying to take over the world, and your relatives want to talk about unimportant nonsense. No, you're better off without such bigots in your life.
Do you have a hacking cough and wheeze for breath when walking up a flight of stairs? That's not your fault. It is certainly unrelated to smoking two packs a day for years. Everyone knows nicotine is a brain stimulant, and don't you want people to perform well in their jobs? Plus, smoking suppresses appetite, and who doesn't need that?
Are you regularly surprised by things that happen in life? That's not your fault. The world is a chaotic, unpredictable place. There's no point in being well-informed about current events, because the media are a bunch of liars. There's no benefit in understanding basic economic principles, because the system is rigged. And it is futile to look to basic incentives for motivation, because incentives never predicted anything.
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