• Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

Life isn’t always fair.

Clearly good people suffer from events and conditions that they do not deserve. Is this simply bad luck, or is there a way to understand it? I’ve personally never heard of  an acceptable, rational or logical reason why one child should be born into an environment where their needs are neglected or where they are actively abused, while another is well cared for and nurtured. There are, however, clear psychological principles which account for the effects of our early childhood experiences as they play out in later life.

As children we are entirely dependent on our primary care givers for our survival. If our parent’s needs were not taken care of during their early years, it is possible that their ability to meet our needs will be impaired also. You cannot give what you do not have. What we need more than anything else in our early years is unconditional love and acceptance. We need to know that we are okay exactly as we are, that we are wanted and that we matter.

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Most parents are unaware of their influence on a young child’s developing sense of self. A common parenting mistake is to label their children as “good” or ‘bad/naughty”, “silly”, “shy” or “lazy”.

A statement like:

“That was a silly thing to do, you ought to be more careful in the future.”

has as a very different effect on a child than;

“You’re silly, when will you ever change?”

As young children we don’t make our parents wrong. To do so would be terrifying and life threatening. If they are out of control, or limited in their power, then we would be unsafe. We take the blame. We believe what we’re told about ourselves and we internalise it. Sometimes we’ll do this without any obvious adult intervention. We might be born to parents who’s relationship does not meet each of their legitimate needs. The unhappiness caused by stresses on our parents’ relationship spill over, and our young mind’s make assumptions that leave us with a sense of “not being enough” or “not good enough”.


To be clear, this is not about blaming or making our parents wrong. It’s about understanding how our early experiences set the template for our later experiences. Maybe our parents had to work long hours in order to provide for us financially. They are doing their best for us, but we learn that we’re not as important as their work, or that our needs don’t matter. Human beings are complex and very impressionable especially during our formative years. We can learn to believe that somehow we are faulty and when this belief takes root, it tends to show up in different forms over and over again in adult life.

It could be that our relationships never last, time and time again they take the same course ending in heartache and breakups. Maybe we get stuck in our career or with our finances. Maybe we suffer from ill health or feel a spiritual emptiness inside. Maybe we secretly believe we have to be perfect and so nothing we do is ever acceptable to us and we become addicted to work. The variations are endless, but the causes can more often than not be traced back to early childhood experiences.

The Shame Game

There is a saying that goes “guilt seeks punishment.” Where we secretly feel like we are faulty or bad, or that we’ve done something wrong we’ll seek out punishment. We may or may not be consciously doing it. Who would choose to suffer? But we do make decisions that lead to unhappy circumstances in our lives. We choose the wrong partner. We choose to limit ourselves professionally. It might look like our abusive or unsupportive boss has nothing to do with us other than random misfortune, but often that same boss treats one employee fairly and walks all over another. Why is this? Why do some of us make good decisions that lead to happiness and others’ choices lead to disappointment and unhappiness?

We are choosing according to what we unconsciously believe we can have or deserve.

In a way we may be punishing ourselves for being defective before anyone else beats us to it.

Healing The Past

One of the most powerful processes I guide my clients through is that of healing the past. No matter what happened in childhood or has happened since, it’s important to realise that we are all innocent. If we could access this knowledge as a lived experience then we would all be free to make good decisions that lead to great outcomes. That’s the theory, but in practice it turns out that we have a process to go through which involves letting go and healing past hurts and misconceptions. As we do this, more and more emotional space opens up and we are able to accept ourselves and meet our own legitimate needs for connection and financial and emotional wellbeing.

Choosing The Future

Our choices define our experiences. Yes, life throws challenges at us, but how we respond to those challenges is also a choice. When we react to life we resort to our old patterns of thinking and feeling and this is one way we get stuck on the hamster wheel of life. As we heal the past we are increasingly more free to make healthy decisions which built the foundations for our future. We literally get to decide how we live, and the Life Coaching aspects of my work with clients is deeply rooted in this decision making process. Think about it for a moment. If you decided that you are definitely ready to change, and that you will do it come what may, how do you think this decision would effect your life? Not everyone feels strong enough to make a decision like this on their own and that’s why they hire someone like me. I’ve seen Life Coaching principles transform clients’ lives. I’ve witnessed it over and over again. I’ve been there with clients as they let go of limiting beliefs and pailful memories from the past. My part is to hold the space for my clients, secure in the knowledge that the work we are doing together is leading to the results the client desires.

Riding The Waves Of Life

So, why do bad things happen to good people? Part of it, I believe has to do with the way life is. We live in a dimension of opposites. We don’t know big unless we have something smaller to compare it to. We can’t have the inside of a room without there being an outside and so we measure the good times in comparison to the bad. But a major underlying influence on us is our subconscious assumptions and beliefs about what life has to offer and about what we truly deserve to experience. Fortunately it’s completely possible to change our beliefs and assumptions and so open ourselves up to more and more positive life experiences. I hope you’ll choose to do this, and I hope this article has been of some use to you. If you know anyone who might benefit from it please would you use the social media buttons below to share it and maybe consider connecting with me via Facebook, twitter or linkedin  or leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Wishing You The Very Best

Mike Warwick




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