How did we ever get the idea that life is fair, which causes us to think it should be fair and experience anger and sadness when we perceive that life isn’t fair. Cognitively we try to reconcile our situation so that it seems we are being treated fairly.
What does fair even mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, these are the simple definitions of fair:
agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable
treating people in a way that does not favor some over others
not too harsh or critical
Definitions one and two are the ones that seems to cause us the most problems. Here is the problem with number one. Not everyone has the same idea about what is right or acceptable. And narcissists, for example, are only going to do what is right and acceptable for them, without concern for how that impacts what is right and acceptable for you. The “every man for himself” doctrine. Narcissism is on the rise and empathy is on the decline. Do take care of yourself first but not at the expense of others.
Treating people in a way that does not favor some over others. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Not everyone subscribes to that moral code. Again, narcissists are everywhere. So are people who are oblivious to their own behavior and its impact on others. Circumstances also sometimes favor certain personality traits, qualities and characteristics. For example, being a leader requires charisma, the ability to motivate, organization, and a commitment to the best interests of a company and its people. Not everyone has these skills and qualities. So, the perception might be “it’s not fair” that I didn’t get the leadership position I tried for, and the reality might be that you didn’t have the qualifications needed to be excellent in that position at this time. Go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get what other leaders’ have if a leadership position is really what you want. If you were a defendant in a courtroom, would you be more concerned with getting what you want or being treated fairly? You want what you want. Being treated fairly might mean you go to jail, when what you want is to not go to jail.
Rather than focusing on what’s not fair (reactive), focus on what you want and how you will get it (proactive). If you have people in your life who don’t treat you as you would like to be treated, limit your time with them or remove them from your life. Don’t trod over others in the process, but do focus on yourself. You have the power…to get what you want.