“Why Me?” Often Asked in Crisis

“Why me?” is commonly asked, especially when one confronts tragedy.

“However it’s asked,” states Fran Simone, PhD, Psychology Today, “the question is self-defeating. This way of thinking fuels resentment, envy, and self-pity. Toxic emotions demean and diminish us.”

The individuals referenced below neither wax maudlin nor shy away from humor regarding the question:

Charlie Brown (from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts): “Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, ‘Why me?’, then a voice answers ‘Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.'”

Stephen King“When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, ‘Why god? Why me?’ and the thundering voice of God answered, ‘There’s just something about you that pisses me off.'”

Christopher Hitchens‘s posthumously published book Mortality chronicles his “year of living dyingly”; he succumbed to cancer in 2011. “To the dumb question ‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?”

More recently humorist David Rakoff, who died last year, received a cancer diagnosis while writing a book of essays called Half Emptywhich came out in 2010. In an interview with NPR around that time, he’d also spoken of this issue:

Writer Melissa Bank said it best: ‘The only proper answer to ‘Why me?’ is ‘Why not you?’ The universe is anarchic and doesn’t care about us and unfortunately, there’s no greater rhyme or reason as to why it would be me. And since there is no answer as to why me, it’s not a question I feel really entitled to ask. And in so many other ways, I’m so far ahead of the game. I have access to great medical care. My general baseline health, aside from the general unpleasantness of the cancer, is great. And it’s great because I’m privileged to have great health. And I live in a country where I’m not making sneakers for a living and I don’t live near a toxic waste dump. You can’t win all the contests and then lose at one contest and say ‘Why am I not winning this contest as well?’ It’s random. So truthfully, again, do I wish it weren’t me? Absolutely. I still can’t make that logistic jump to thinking there’s a reason why it shouldn’t be me.

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