Really, we just want things to be fair.
But where do we get the idea that things SHOULD be fair?
As we think back to our childhood I’m sure we all remember a parent saying something like this: “It’s your sister’s turn to play with the Barbie now, you have to be fair.” “Wait in line for your turn.” “She gave you too much change, it’s only fair to give it back…..”
These comments sound quite reasonable and moral; we were taught well, and we live out these courtesies within our families and at our workplaces. It’s only natural that we would expect fairness in return.
But then there are these foggier examples: “When my brother was my age he was allowed to date, why can’t I?” “Why does she get to go to bed later than I did when I was her age?!” “Why do you pay more attention to him than to me?”
Sometimes “fair” is not clear cut. Sometimes, especially as a child, it’s hard to understand the reasoning behind the “fairest choice.” There can be a legitimate subjectivity that can lead to the fairest choice.
Similar thoughts about fairness crawl into our adult being….. “Why do I always choose the slow line!?” “I’ve worked here longer than he has!” “No wonder she’s successful, she’s related to the producer.”
It seems that although we need to demonstrate fairness we need to remember that life may not be fair, and there has never been any warranty saying this would be so.
Doesn’t sound fair, does it!
I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer. But I do think we have to alter our thinking. I, personally, would really like get rid of those highly elevated feelings I get when I feel I’ve been treated unjustly (think combustion)! I think it’s totally normal to feel jealousy, hurt, or anxiousness….all because we feel we are not getting what we deserve. We are justified in feeling these things, but we need to do something constructive with them, not let them overtake us.
So I think the first thing we need to do is ask ourselves if we actually are getting what we deserve! An objective look is always a good idea. I know that my own view gets skewed because I see only through my own eyes. Obviously, the choices we make open the door for the consequences that walk in. Have we done absolutely everything we can to bring fairness our way? (Maybe I’m in the slow line because I don’t plan well and shop at the busiest time? Maybe my boss awarded my co-worker because he looks more professional? Have I taken every opportunity I could to work hard and put myself where I can be noticed?) There are variables here, too. You might make the very best decisions, yet life still may seem to treat you unjustly. You might make the worst decisions yet get to live high on love and wealth.
Certainly we do not deserve all the unfair things that befall us. I call this the Shit Happens theory. In these cases it’s totally understandable to feel angry, hurt, or vengeful.
So what do we do with these feelings we get? I think it depends on the nature of the unjust event. Does it require a call to action? I don’t think there’s much we can do when we’ve waited in the left merged lane like good, little, proper drivers and the rude speed demon passes on the right and squeezes his way into the lane 50 cars in front of us.
I suppose breathing techniques or refocusing thoughts might help. Or if we have not had the life opportunities that another person has we can’t turn back time and put ourselves in their place. Maybe the answer is in being curious about why we feel the way we do so that we can come to a better understanding…..or maybe we should just stop comparing ourselves to others?
My best suggestion for the “small stuff” is just to accept what happens and learn what you can from it. It doesn’t make sense to get all fired up and sweaty. I once heard the phrase “bless and release.” I say this to my daughters all the time. It’s a handy little thought that helps me to acknowledge something negative that happens but then to let it go. (I know too well, however, that some things are harder to release than others!)
As for the “big stuff,” some of it you can change, and some of it you can’t. When that team member gets recognized for his hard work and no one notices your efforts perhaps it’s time to reevaluate that job and what you want in life….? That situation may be changeable and may bring you to a much better place (scary and unknown, but better). Here’s my unchangeable situation, though….I don’t think it’s fair that Andrew died, whatever the reason, and I can’t bring him back. All I can do it move forward without him, and try to think like he would, hopefully taking his advice on decisions even though he’s not here to physically give it.
You will make your own decisions on this. You will make your own life decisions which may or may not lead you to unfair situations. Perhaps the best we can do is to be fair to others, keep calm when life does not seem fair, and try to focus on the things in life that are most important.