There are sinister roots behind being told 'everything happens for a reason'.

We've all heard the saying: "Everything happens for a reason."

According to the experts, the phrase conveys the belief that the events and experiences in our lives are not haphazard. Instead, they have an underlying purpose or cause, suggesting it shapes us into who we were born to be.

Some see it as a source of comfort, believing everything led them to where they are now and the person they were destined to be. Many say it in times of good fortune, as if the stars were looking out for them personally.

I'm calling bullsh*t. Controversial for some, I know. 

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I vividly remember hearing this phrase during my early teen years when my mum's health and life were at stake. 

As I was expressing my worry and fear to my friends, someone in my outer circle replied by saying, "Well, I guess everything happens for a reason, hey."

They were well-meaning, and there was no malice behind their words. But that doesn't mean it didn't sting.


Their suggestion was essentially that the trauma of almost losing my mum at an early age was going to make me a stronger and better person; a big life lesson I could learn. 

It also insinuated, even if that wasn't their intention, that this terrible situation was supposed to happen to my family: it was destined and meant to be, rather than just sh*tty life circumstances.

It's a sentiment that survivor Grace Tame reiterated this week in a podcast interview with Abbie Chatfield.

"Trauma doesn't make sense. It's looking for an explanation to something that really doesn't have an explanation. I really dislike the phrase, 'Everything happens for a reason', it's thrown around a lot. Child sexual abuse does not happen for a reason. You don't have to get a lesson from that. You don't have to find a silver lining," Tame noted.

"You can build yourself back from that, but if you struggle, that's not your fault. It was never your fault. Sayings like this keep people on a psychological treadmill careering towards an illusion of wellness."

"Sometimes things are just sh*t," Chatfield agreed. 

Interestingly, the origins behind "everything happens for a reason" speak volumes about its hidden meaning.

Shockingly, the phrase wasn't made up by a woo-woo wellness figure who saw purpose behind every single thing that happens in someone's life. Oh no, it actually goes back to good ol' philosopher Aristotle. 

Some historians suggest the elite ruling class then took the phrase and weaponised it during the Medieval times, to make the lower class think their ill circumstances were "God's will" or "the King's will".


It's also a saying used widely in evangelical circles.

Let's cut the bullsh*t shall we. Image: Canva. 

According to experts, the "everything happens for a reason" mentality can actually do far more harm than good. 


Many who believe wholeheartedly in fate are at risk of assuming that because something bad happened to them, they somehow deserved it, or the bad thing had to happen for them to learn something. Shock horror, this isn't great for our mental health. 

On the flip side, the toxic positivity aspect of the saying can be harmful too. 

Nick Luxmoore is a clinical supervisor, teacher and psychotherapist. Writing on this topic, he noted: "It's what so many young people say in response to accidents, deaths and other misfortunes. We pick away at this, wondering whether natural disasters, human cruelties happen for a reason, whether a relative's cancer happened for a reason.

"And if there was a reason, then what was it? Who decided on the reason? 'Everything happens for a reason' is simple thinking."

The whole point of this conversation isn't to say there's no deeper meaning of life or to criticise personal beliefs. 

Rather, it's about being careful with relying on phrases like this, especially in scenarios of trauma.

Sometimes, sad and terrible things happen. It absolutely sucks. 

I still think a lot about 15-year-old me who was told that "everything happens for a reason", and how deeply it cut. And to the so-called friend who thought this phrase was the best offering for support — I only wish I'd had the courage to stand up and call BS. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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