Fate and Destiny
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 10:39, December 7 2017.

People may call it fate, they may call it predestination.  The concept of destiny - that our lives are already mapped out and there is little that we can do about what happens to us, is something that many people believe to be true.  It may bring comfort to some to believe that the mistakes they have made or the misfortune that they have suffered are in some way unavoidable.  The idea may also bring some strength to those who find themselves in dangerous or potentially dangerous circumstances.  The suggestion that the bullet will not hit you unless it “has your name on it”, is an expression of a belief in fate or predestination.

Is Luck Relevant?

Closely related to fate is luck.  If luck was something out of our control it would be impossible to change our luck – yet as Richard Wiseman illustrated in his book that documented the results of scientific study, The Luck Factor, one’s luck can be improved by following four simple principles.  If luck can be influenced then why not fate?

What Value is Hope?

A belief in fate or predestination may cause one to lose hope - why make any effort if nothing one does will change the outcome?  One of the most powerful things we possess is hope – the belief that things will get better.  I once spoke to a survivor of a Japanese prisoner of war camp who stressed that the only people who survived were those who had hope and this concept has been echoed by many people who have survived extreme situations – whether it be a concentration camp or being frozen and left for dead on a mountain!

We often set our hearts on things or work steadfastly towards a goal only to have our hopes dashed.  In circumstances like these, it is always useful to believe that something better is just around the corner – and often it is!

Being in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time!

Our lives are largely ruled by chance but one must not lose sight of the positive that can come from those times when chance throws us misfortune. One survivor of Auschwitz, Viktor Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist, made sense of the evil and inhumanity to which he was subjected by looking for positive meaning in his experiences.  An example of his approach would be how he introduced positive meaning into the thinking of an elderly man who had just lost his wife. The man had a deep loyalty to his wife and expressed this with his commitment that he would always be there for her.  Frankl pointed out that in order for him to achieve that, his wife had to die before him.  The man had still lost his wife and still had to deal with his grief but at least he could take some comfort that he had fulfilled his promise – he had always been there for her and never deserted her, as he would have done, had he been the first to die.

What if One is Born with a “Silver Spoon in Ones Mouth”?

I do not believe in fate or predestination but that we make our own way in life.  Unfortunately, we are not all born equal – some are born into privilege and some are not.  We are also all born with different levels of ability.  All these different circumstances give us different potentials.  Fate and predestination may not exist but the circumstances into which we are born may have an influence on what happens to us and how we respond.  The outlook cultured by our upbringing, combined with our talents and abilities can hugely influence the direction we take in life.  Life Coaching can be viewed as a means to change one’s direction and utilise one’s talents and abilities more effectively.  It is taking control of one’s life and not leaving ones life’s direction down to chance.

What is Destiny?

Everyone is born with a potential for achievement but achieving that potential does not come easily.  One might view one’s potential as one’s destiny   People who achieve in life are those who accept the anxiety that comes from stepping above “the norm” of their social group to develop their potential, those who refuse to accept fate and have the belief (hope) that they can make their lives better.  There is a quote that highlights this process that I believe is credited to Carl Jung; it says “the greatest thing a man can achieve is his own destiny”.