I had a session with a client this week who was really frustrated that she continually second-guesses herself in many areas of her life. She kept saying, “Why do I do this, Sara?”
When she asked that question in such a pained way, I realized that “Why?” is a question we frequently use as a stick to beat ourselves up.
When you ask “Why?” it’s implied that you’re doing something wrong. Something’s happening that shouldn’t be happening. And “beating ourselves up” is the best way I can describe what the question of “Why?” is really doing… so maybe it’s time to start asking that question in a much different way.
The Energy of “Why?”
When you look at something you’re doing and ask, “Why do I do this?” it contains a certain expectation. That expectation is that things will always be this way until – and unless – I figure it out.
Funnily enough, rather than helping us work through the situation, the energy of “Why?” can actually hold the pattern in place!
Brené Brown does a fabulous job of mining her stories and other people’s stories to see patterns and learn about how we approach life.
In order to look at your stories without slapping a hurtful judgment on it, you have to hold the question of “Why?” gently and with curiosity rather than gripping it, like you would a stick. Instead of trying to solve the problem, ask the question with the intention of understanding what’s going on.
A lot of times with the kind of work I do, you don’t even have to understand the answer intellectually because we approach it from an energetic standpoint (which is so much more powerful).
Don’t Beat Yourself Up: We’re All in the Process of Growing
When I think of people using the question “Why?” on themselves, I picture harassing a toddler for falling down. It’s as if they’ve turned to the toddler and shouted, “Why did you fall down?!”
That’s pointless. We’re all in the process of learning and growing, and it would be more productive to the toddler to help her notice that, “huh, when I turn sharply, I fall.” Then maybe next time she can experiment with turning more slowly rather than thinking there’s something wrong with falling.
In truth, forcing ourselves into a pattern of “Why?” is a way to delay doing anything about the situation.
It can be a way of not dealing with our feelings because it keeps us in our head, trying to reason things out.
There’s so much in our culture to keep us from feeling our feelings (Facebook, food, television, fights with our mothers…), where actually, so much of our growth happens and so much of our energy comes from feeling our feelings.
By Avoiding the Thing, We Solidify It
When you catch yourself asking the question “Why?” in an accusatory tone, just notice it. Instead of choosing to beat yourself up, take a few quiet moments to yourself to sit with the feelings that come up around the question. Engage your curiosity, gently and lovingly.
Most often, my clients discover something new that they didn’t realize was going on for them when they let the feelings come up. Normally that discovery, whatever it may be, lightens their load significantly.
My guess is that will be your experience, too.
Are you ready to move through the question of “Why?” and live in the lightness on the other side? Next week, I’m starting a 9-week program that will give you tools and skills to work through those tough questions on your own and in a group.
Click HERE to find out more about the Shift Into Action Program. I can’t wait to see you there!