It’s not fair.
It’s a phrase that likely has been with us our whole life, to greater and lesser degrees. As children, we learned to use the phrase, “It’s not fair,” when our parents won a game of Candyland or we couldn’t get the toy we wanted at Kmart. As adults, we’ve no doubt used this phrase or even, “Life isn’t fair” as we’ve come to greater levels of understanding about what’s fair and what’s not. It’s a phrase and feeling that’s been with us our whole life because unfairness – whether it’s real or perceived – is actually something we’re hardwired to look for and recognize.
Studies have shown that when we see or experience injustice, our amygdala, the primitive part of our brain that controls fear and anger, is triggered. When we are confronted with injustice, whether it is real or perceived, we are hardwired to experience strong, instant physical and biological reactions that can limit our ability to think rationally and respond proactively. Equally, on the flip side, the reward center of our brain is activated when we see and recognize justice and fairness – even if it pertains to someone else.
Life isn’t always fair.
Every day, on scales large and small, in our lives and the lives of others, we’ll bear witness to injustice:
You could find out you make less than someone in the same job.
You could lose a promotion or not be given a desirable position in your company to someone who is far less qualified.
You could be discriminated against in your workplace, lacking the support from your supervisors, surrounded by a myriad of double standards.
You could learn the person you trusted and loved is lying (or cheating) on you.
You could find out that your best friend, the one you’ve dubbed, “the healthy one,” has been diagnosed with cancer.
You could wake up to a phone call telling you your brother has died in a car crash.
You could lose a court case even when it’s obvious someone else was in the wrong.
And this doesn’t even touch upon the massive injustices happening in our country, all over the world, far outside the scope of our everyday lives.
Life isn’t always fair.
But – we aren’t powerless in these moments either. No matter how small we may be made to feel, no matter how insurmountable the situation might seem, we do not have to accept every injustice as an unavoidable part of life. We do, however, have to accept that our response to perceived wrongs affects our ability to right them.
Right Your Wrongs
Stop Obsessive Thinking
Dwelling on unfairness doesn’t change a thing. It actually affects our ability to change anything as the energy of obsessive thinking drains our energy, magnifies our emotions and keeps us focused on problems rather than solutions.
This is the biggest challenge for me. As soon as my integrity radar goes off, I go into obsess mode over the injustice of the situation – and if it’s a reoccurring issue with the same individual, not only am I obsessing over the current injustice, I’m also recalling each and every instance where there’s been one. While my mind will argue it’s building a case of evidence, focusing my energy here only serves to further pull me down the rabbit hole. When I find myself in obsessive thinking, there’s 3 things I do to get out of it:
Rally your support: when I’m caught in my obsessive thinking, I call my life coach and let it all out. Having a life coach or an empathic friend who can fully listen to your story – and who can equally call you out on your BS – is crucial to getting out of the story and into a right course of action.
Find your outlet: For me, writing is cathartic. It’s where my ideas and thoughts flow best and where my emotion is raw and real and tangible. It allows me to touch the pain without being in the pain. Writing not your thing? Find a healthy outlet that allows you to release your unwanted energy and emotions.
Reaffirm your power: A phrase I often repeat to myself in these moments is, “This isn’t productive. It is what it is. I can accept it or I can try to change it.” Reminding ourselves that in any challenging situation that we have two choices – to accept or change it – pulls us back into a place of power.
Know What You Can Control And Do Something About It
There will always be things we can’t control. We can’t control someone else’s decision or their behavior. We can’t control the tragedies that have occurred in our life or across the world. But, what we can always control is how we respond to them.
While I know I can’t control the behavior and decisions of others, something that is very apparent in a current, difficult situation, it doesn’t stop me from trying or from loudly pointing out the glaring double standards, much to no avail. When I find myself back where I started, just more incensed, it’s a huge reminder for me to control my behavior and decisions and to fully align with what feels best, which is never staying in the anger or upset.
Life isn’t always fair and in some situations, we’ll be able to appeal a court case or take our injustice to someone who will do something about it. At other times, life will be unfair and there will simply be unfair things that we will have to accept and no level of anger or bitterness will help alleviate the pain. Regardless of the unfair situation or injustice, we always have a choice and our source of power is always found in small, micro moments of choice. When we take a stand for what’s right, when we fight for what matters, when we call up compassion in the face of hate – when we do all things with love in our hearts – the world shines a little brighter.
To all the rebels and risk takers, to the brokenhearted who still love tenaciously, to all the ones who have faced adversity but have not let it sour their spirit, to all the ones who want to be a little braver….this is YOUR moment. Shine bright my friends. The world needs the light you’ve been given.