“Why Me?” and other self-deprecating Excuses “Why Me?” and other self-deprecating Excuses
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Let’s be honest; we’ve all done it. When we cross the line from humility to dangerous, self-deprecating territory it’s the equivalent of jumping off the back of a moving truck into a cactus bush. It’s serves no-one; least of all you. Self-deprecation comes in all shapes and forms, but sits under the umbrella of belittling or devaluating yourself. When life gets tough, that little voice in the bowels of your psyche will throw up a whole host of questions – one of which being “why me?” This loaded (and guilt-inducing) question has the power to throw everything off kilter and spiralling downwards into the darkness of depression.

Pessimists believe that life is a minefield; you never know what bomb is about to go off under your feet as you stumble through each day. Optimists on the other hand believe life is a field of fragrant flowers; even if a bomb were to go off under your feet, you keep crawling through the field bleeding profusely while simultaneously enjoying the floral scents around you. If you’re a Realist like me, you believe life is a botanical garden full of exotic orchids and Venus fly-traps; we admire the beauty but keep walking, even when the thorns burrow into our skin.

Seven years ago I watched my Mother face certain death as her fragile body battled a voracious cancer – the doctors predicted she had three months to live – not once did she utter the words “why me?” when countless others would have done so. She accepted her fate with remarkable grace, remaining positive and continuing to inspire those around her to the bitter end. Contrary to the doctors’ prognosis she survived 5 months. I couldn’t have prevented her death, but with any experience – good or bad – there are always lessons to be learnt. Her death taught me how futile it is to be self-deprecating and that acceptance and gratitude are indelible qualities.

As such, a Realist understands the complexity of life in all its glory – recognising the value of positive moments while expecting and accepting the worst. Once you have digested that you will inevitably face some of life’s toughest challenges, you will cease to ask “why me?” but rather the following questions:

1. What is the reason this has happened? – Focus on understanding the root cause of what has taken place. Is this part of a cyclical trend or a freak one-off incident? Is it something you could have prevented? If so proceed to question 2, if not proceed to question 3.

2. What could I have done to change the outcome? – Understand how your actions contributed to the difficulty you face. Clearly pinpoint the signs you ignored, the warnings you circumvented and the steps you consciously took in the wrong direction.

3. What have I learnt from this? – All life’s experience come with clear lessons; if you had no control over the outcome, reflect on how you have been strengthened as a person and how much more prepared you will be when the next Venus fly-trap snaps around your ankle.

Life can be harsh, the least you can do is be kind to yourself – seek out the lessons and cherish the orchids.

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Miranda Naiman
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Miranda Naiman

Miranda describes herself as ‘an unstoppable force for good’ and is the Founder of Empower - a disruptive Consulting Firm that passionately provides Talent, Advisory and Insight services to clients across the African continent.

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