the most painful question

I've been hearing it everywhere the past few days, so there's no escaping it. Here it is:

What's wrong with me?

I got fired ... what's wrong with me?
My boyfriend broke up with me ... what's wrong with me?
My teacher yelled at me ... what's wrong with me?
My friend told me she didn't like something I did ... what's wrong with me?
My back hurts ... what's wrong with me?

Seems to me that the question What's wrong with me? is far more painful than the things preceding it. The underlying presumption is that if nothing was wrong with us, everything would be just the way we want it to be. If there was nothing wrong with me, I'd still have a job. If there was nothing wrong with me, she wouldn't say that. If there was nothing wrong with me, I would not be in pain.

But is that really true? Can we be absolutely positive that things aren't going the way we planned because there's something wrong with us? Could there possibly be other factors at play?

Without the pain that stems from thinking something is fundamentally wrong with us, the loss of a job or a relationship becomes an opportunity for an upgrade. Pain becomes an opportunity for awareness. Disapproval becomes an opportunity for more deeply accepting ourselves.

A flipside of the same question is What's wrong with them? Makes me think of the words to that song by Dave Mason, "There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys, there's only you and me and we just disagree." Nothing has to be wrong with us or them. We are separate individuals with our own histories, perspectives, and beliefs. Of course we see some things differently.

My son has been attending the Conference on World Affairs on the CU campus this week, and apparently there have been a lot of very heated arguments about opinions. I guess that's fine as long as the debate is fun for both parties, but it also seems kind of futile to me. If I don't think there's something wrong with me or you, I am fine with you having a different opinion, and have no need to convince you to see it my way.

Without the need to answer that painful question, and we have many more resources to invest in understanding each other.

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