Community//

Why You Should Stop Asking Why

Stop ruminating about the past and start living in the present by asking this one question.

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I ran across this quote in Rupi Kaur’s lovely book of poems, Milk and Honey.

It speaks so much truth in such a small number of words.

As a social scientist trained to explain human behavior, this has been a hard lesson to learn – there comes a point when continuing to investigate why something did or did not happen no longer gets us to where we want to be.

I see it with clients all the time.

On their obsessive quest to understand the unknowable – “Why did I get sick? Why didn’t I get the promotion? Why am I less ‘successful’ than my friends?” – they fail to live rich and meaningful lives where they are.

They get stuck.

Have you ever experienced this?

Usually, it happens after some sort of set-back.

Our brains go immediately into problem-solving mode and it usually begins with why? “Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong?”

The need-to-know (and the self-critical stories and judgments that inevitably follow) becomes an anchor that drags us down.

The next time you face a difficult situation or something stands in your way of moving forward in life, instead of asking “why,” try this:

Ask yourself, “Now what?”

“What can I start doing right now to begin living aligned with who I want to be and what I want to achieve?”

The past is information; it’s not determination. Learn from it, lean into the present, and move on.

As Ms. Kaur so eloquently says, at some point we need to “stop searching for why,” and I would add, start living for now.

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