1) Everything happens for a reason
Ah this old chestnut. If your therapist ever says this to you, please ask for your money back and find a different one. I mean I guess that it could be true, if the reason is that life can be cruel and completely unfair. People used to say this to me about my estrangement. ‘hey Aisha, I know you don’t have any contact with your family, and they have said some really shitty things to you, but ya know, everything happens for a reason’.
Of course if you have certain Religious beliefs you may be more inclined to believe this, but that isn’t really my audience. Lets look at some another examples of when I have heard this be used…
When talking about grief. ‘Hey, I know your baby/partner/sibling died, but everything happens for a reason’. I am sure people mean well, but what this does is try to make light of the situation, and that often is not what people going through grief need.
2) What doesnt kill you makes you stronger
Actually what doesnt kill you can lead to stress, anxiety, depression and unhealthy coping strategies.
3) Everything will be okay
I have had friends say this to me and obviously its well-meaning, but frankly, its untrue. All it does is show you have no understanding or empathy or what it feels like. Why not just say ‘I know, its really shit’. But people don’t like doing that, because they feel they must offer a solution. Sometimes, its better to just sit with the shitness and support people through that.
4) When people say you can ‘manifest’ what you want. We see this happen with clients who have OCD, we could call this magical thinking. The belief you can make something happen with your mind. I have worked with many clients with OCD who are consumed with guilt and anxiety because they once thought of something bad happening and now they think it will happen.
If you want something, you need goals to work towards, not the belief you can imagine it into existence. Of course we all need dreams and desires, that helps us set goals, but we don’t need the delusion that just imagining it will make it happen! So next time someone offers this not-so-helpful idea, remember, you don’t have to believe everything people tell you or do what they suggest… but if you’ve reached After Faith, you probably know that already.