Existential Psychology

The Psychology Of ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’

By  | 

People who believe that everything in life happens for a reason have very little tolerance for existential anxiety. The unwavering belief that there’s some sort of higher plan, that everything that occurs along the individual life path is and was supposed to occur, is a formidable defense against the emotional and psychological distress cued off by the recognition of personal responsibility against a backdrop of myriad world happenings that can’t be predicted or controlled.

Whether the ‘Everything Happens For a Reason’ mantra is chalked up to God, the universe, fate, or any other external entity the psychology is the same in that chaos is replaced by order, doubt by certainty, meaninglessness by meaning. A superstructure takes on total responsibility so that the individual doesn’t have to, and with the transfer of responsibility existential anxiety is diminished.

With this sort of psychological bulwark in place, life with all its chaotic randomness and uncertainty becomes less threatening, it seems more manageable. This secular version of religious predetermination not only instills courage to go out and face the world, it also makes the people who buy into it feel special, as if they were singled out for something important, as if the higher entity had a specific, detailed plan that included them.

We can think of the psychology of everything happens for a reason as the psychic equivalent of taking a powerful sedative, of sort of descending into a happy stupor where there’s no need to face existential anxiety squarely. The downside is of course that existential anxiety is not an enemy but a friend, it’s there to point us towards deeper insight into the human condition, into ourselves, and to alert us to the various roadblocks in our life paths that, if recognized and overcome, will allow for our continued self-actualization.