Why Do Bad Things Keep Happening to Me – Free Ebook

Much is constantly happening that annoys us:
trains pull out of platforms as we approach

them. Taps snap off their moorings; shopping
bags leak; suppliers go bankrupt; colleagues

resign; cars break down.

It is all – undoubtedly – maddening.

But the question is how much does it all,
beneath the surface, have to feel intentional

as well?

For a certain kind of personality, it is very
hard to hold on to the idea that many troubles

might come down to something as innocent as

It simply seems implausible that awful things
might repeatedly unfold, at terribly inopportune

moments, without some kind of malevolent intent
being involved.

It can’t be just an accident that the dinner
order went missing,

  • that the cinema seat was double booked,
  • that the phone’s battery has died…

Why did their dry cleaning – and no one else’s

  • end up being stolen and their new shoes

spring a leak?
Why is there a strange smell just next to

where they are seated on the plane? How come
there is a small beetle in their salad?

It’s as though someone is trailing them,
undermining them, laying traps for them – and

laughing at them. It seems like there is some
kind of conspiracy to make them look like

a cretin to the world (why else have they
been walking around all day with a sticker

on the back of their coat and why does their
zip jam exactly ten minutes before an important

dinner?). No wonder they may get very cross

The sad and touching truth is that there is

  • of course – almost never any conspiracy

at play. But that it strongly feels like there
is one on the inside tells us a lot about

the origins of paranoic hypersensitivity:
it is the bitter fruit of self-hatred.

When we heartily dislike ourselves, it is
only natural to have the impression that the

world is ridiculing us in turn. The hotel
concierge knows exactly how awful we are;

that’s why they’ve given us the room with
the malfunctioning airconditioning unit;

the waiter has deep experience of our revoltingness;
that’s why they chose our trousers on which

to drop a piece of butter.
The phone company knows that we are an idiot

(and that we think dreadful things); that’s
why they’ve made sure our mobile would give

out on the second day of our trip.

We need to be given the chance to see that
our suspicious natures are a symptom of a

self-hatred that owes its origins not to the
prevalence of actual plots and schemes, but

to childhood dynamics in which we lacked the
reassurance, attention and care we deserved

  • and for this, we deserve immense, ongoing
    sympathy. The world doesn’t hate us, we

have just learnt to have contempt for ourselves
which returns to haunt us in the form of imagined

No one is actually laughing at us; we weren’t

loved properly and now don’t like ourselves
very much. That’s the true outrage for which

we should reserve our anger and our self-compassion.

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