Why Ask “Why?”

fotolia_125676_Subscription_LWhy is it that everything seems to happen at the same time?  When I first starting writing in 2009 I’d lost my job, my financial security, my retirement, my husband was dealing with life challenging illnesses, my dad died and I was caring for a blind mom. Oh and I moved far away from my friends.    We use to call those events “300 point stressors” and having so many at once surely meant I needed serious help.  Why did all of this fall on my shoulders at the same time?  I still don’t know except that such is life.

So many people I talk to though to know “why.”  Why me?  Why not me? Why now?  Why?  Why?  Why?  I have found in my life that any answer to life’s “why’s” is unsatisfying, at best.   What if instead we stopped asking  “why” ?

Asking “why” makes sense when the recipe doesn’t taste right or when you’re considering why your product didn’t sell yet your competitor’s did.   It doesn’t help though when you ask why you’re alive when some else has passed. Or asking why when your husband who has lived healthy all of  his life gets cancer and the chain smoker doesn’t?  Or asking why the storm took out your home but didn’t touch your neighbors?. There are no good answers for any of these types of questions and wanting an answer to your “whys” doesn’t really make a difference in what happens now or next.

When Jack was first diagnosed with cancer I wanted to know why he had it.  Then as treatment progressed I wanted to know why it wasn’t working.  These days I quit asking why.  Why?  Because anyone who tries to answer these questions is shooting in the dark.  They are giving it their best guess but they don’t know.  Their response to my “why” question is not only unsatisfying but it leaves me with the feeling no one really has the answer anyhow.  What remains then is this unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach that something else is going to go wrong and that is a worse feeling than not knowing “why.”

If you are going through multiple stresses in your life or even some single thing that is weighing heavily on you consider not asking any question that begins with “why.”  Instead look for answers that redirect your efforts towards a path that empowers you to persevere.  Here are some alternative questions to ask:

  • What about this situation do I need to understand better?  Examples might include what is being affected in my life right now?  What are the treatment options?  Has anything really changed with this event other than my feelings?
  • What can I do right now to alleviate my stress?  Can you ask for help?  Delegate?  Let go of non-essential responsibilities or “shoulds?”
  • Who can I turn to for help?  Is there a friend, relative or adviser you trust to bounce things off of?  Are there businesses, agencies or a coach you can work with?
  • When do I need to make a decision?  Not every event requires immediate action yet you may feel the need to “do” something.  Resist that urge until you have time to process what is happening and your feelings about it.

Each of these questions enables you to feel a bit more in control.  Asking “why” about life events leaves you feeling powerless and right now you need all of your energy.  Choose to ask the questions that help you find your balance and your resolve. In both the short run and the long run you’ll feel better if you do.


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