Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Moral Injury

When the World Hands You Stinkweed

Did you expect roses because you feel that's what you deserve?

Most of us, handed a promotion, a surprising compliment, or good fortune of any kind will secretly be sure that somehow we deserved it. If you are not handed the compliment, promotion, or gold star, what do you say to yourself?

Some possibilities are that the fates have it against you, or the boss does, or that good-looking person just doesn’t know what s/he’s missing. A healthy ego usually doesn’t suggest that you should have tried harder or that another person did better than you. A perfect example from current news follows:

Recently a member of the White House press corps filed a lawsuit against White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the Secret Service, alleging they wrongfully revoked his press badge.

In his suit, African journalist Simon Ateba, argued that the White House policy for revoking press access violates his First and Fifth Amendment rights. President Biden's White House announced new rules in May that —for the first time— allowed for rescinding a press badge.

"Defendants violated Mr. Ateba’s First Amendment rights by changing the criteria for hard pass credentials to intentionally prevent Mr. Ateba from obtaining hard pass access," the lawsuit reads.

And like the reporter above, when you don’t get what you think you deserve, you can decide that the White House, the Press Secretary, and the Secret Service are all against you personally.

Ateba says his press pass expired on July 31, and he has not been able to renew it. There are currently almost 1,000 reporters with White House hard passes, which allow journalists to come and go from the White House briefing room and press area freely. Reporters without hard passes must contact the White House to obtain a day pass for a specific date.

Mr. Ateba has been at the center of several press room brouhahas in the past several months and feels he has been unfairly treated by not being called on by the Press Secretary. With press sessions brief and up to hundreds of reporters in attendance at any time, was he personally being targeted by the rule change? Did the world personally hand him stinkweed. If so, did he deserve it? His is a good case of “Stinkweed? Why me?”

Readers can undoubtedly count occasions when you were handed roses and were sure they were merited, but few people doubt that they ever merit life’s stinkweed bouquet.

Should that happen to you, take a look at all the surrounding circumstances, see whether there’s anything you can change, and, if not, accept the fact that life sometimes just hands you stinkweed.

More from Isadora Alman MFT, CST
More from Psychology Today