Shikata Ga Nai: New Perspective

The first time I saw this phrase was in Facebook. It caught my eyes because it is associated with being negative but quite common and seemingly normalized. It intrigued me because it somehow compares to the Filipino saying, "Bahala na." Literally, this Japanese phrase means "nothing can be done about it." This expression has contrasting themes, and this will be the focus of this blogpost.

Have dignity in difficult times.

Force majeure, a situation beyond our control. This is perhaps a tragedy, calamity or perhaps an accident, economic hardships, or just as simple as an end of a relationship. All of these situations are difficult to handle. However, even these are stress-provoking, we have to maintain dignity in ourselves. Even though one has little or no alternatives left, he or she is expected to accept and endure the pain or consequences in a dignified manner. For example, if one has budgeting deficits, one has to accept to work for long hours. So be it. This is because we do not have control with everything in our lives. 

Accept what you cannot change, and move on.

Similar to the French C'est la vie and the English "It is what it is."  "Sånn er det bare" in Norwegian, or "Bahala na" in Filipino. All of these connotes that life is unpleasant and suffering is an integral part of life. Sometimes, even complaining about discomfort or suffering is no longer beneficial. It does not change the situation. Hopeless as the situation becomes, an individual becomes more humble enough to accept that with all capacities and available resources, nothing can be done, except moving on. Wasting time over an unresolvable problem is not living a good life in itself. Better move on, and find ways to live to fullest even in a difficult circumstance. Perhaps, things will become better as time goes by.

Mentality is not suited for the complacent.

Generally, the Japanese phrase shows pessisism. There seems no glimpse of optimism in it but some argues that acknowledging a bad situation could actually make one feel better. In a romaticized viewpoint, there is always a silver lining. After the storm comes the rainbow. That itself can induce hope in a person. Moreover, a difficult situation maybe necessary to maintain long-term peace and harmony. If suffering is needed to end a conflict, then so be it. Then, the conflict is resolved or avoided. Dwelling in a conflict situation longer maybe more destructive than finding mutually-acceptable solution itself. This is what the Japan has to endure after the Hiroshima bombing, or perhaps a longlasting mind games between individuals. There should be one party who needs to stop, or put an end to the endless bouts of suffering. It could either be me or you. No matter who, but either me or you. That is the most important. 🙂

Shikata Ga Nai has both positive and negative associations. However, there is a good point underlying in this expression. It is the acknowledgement that a certain situation is difficult enough, with little or no solutions at hand and with us little or no control over situation. The recognition itself is good enough because a person has been assumed to have reflected over a situation before ending up in a negative conclusion. We as human beings have used our rationality and realized that nothing can be done, except moving forward. 

This realization exhibits that we, human beings, really are not capable of finding answers to all questions, or solutions to all problems. Sometimes, the best option is to just let go and move on. It is healthy to do that at times. Less burden, more to life in a nutshell! This however should remind us to seek for answers or solutions still, but just after we have exhausted all means, we can lastly say, Shikata Ga Nai! 😬


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