How, Not Why


People want answers and often get caught up in analyzing why something is happening, why they or another feels a certain way, and why things have occurred the way they have. This quest is usually with the intent of “figuring it out” so that the answers can promote action that will remedy the situation and take away the difficult feelings associated with it. It is often painful situations that we analyze the most, this does not tend to happen with pleasant, joyful, or happy situations. Those occurrences we seem to just accept, welcome, and do not want to keep analyzing for fear that will detract from the pleasantness of it.

Does exploring the why serve the person? In short, no. This analysis keeps people stuck and can prevent action while people are stagnated seeking answers. Asking other people why questions creates defensiveness, this reaction is no different internally. The more we focus on why, the more emotionally constipated we become and the more stuck we are.

Instead, we encourage people to shift into open-ended questions and exploration with self and others. A great starting point is to use ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions rather than ‘why.’ For example, “How are you feeling?” “How are you doing?” “What was that like for you?” “What happened?” These open up exploration, dialogue, and processing rather than focusing on fact-finding and getting to the right answer that is going to provide relief. Try out these types of questions with yourself and others and see what happens, it is interesting how things can shift as a result.

By Health Upwardly Mobile