What is it about human nature that we need answers to every question, especially the one, “why is this happening to me?”
A friend of mine I am coaching through some difficulties had a really good therapeutic solution when he innocently put this line in a recent email.
Stop asking why? and start moving on.
A recent conversation we had over a couple beers was dominated by the “why is this happening to me” question.
Not that this is bad, but I’m really understanding that this is not good.
The incessant need to have an answer to every question seems to be a major force in holding someone back from moving on from a difficult situation. I see it in my friends, my clients, and myself. Logically, when something goes haywire, the natural process in our minds is to ask “why?”. I think for the most part this is healthy, wise, and necessary. Often a moment or two pondering this produces an answer that is sufficient for both personal satisfaction and data for the memory bank in case we come upon this situation again.
But then we approach a situation where the answer is not clear. It seems the answer to the why? question eludes us like a great mystery, and questions pile on top of questions and soon we find ourselves consumed with finding answers to the why? question and it overtakes our minds. In our effort to produce an answer, our brains fire on all cylinders and begins offering up answers in droves and instead of thinking logically, we being to tap into emotions and creativity which begin to cloud our ability to think clearly and many of the answers we produce are nothing more than fabricated stories that are far from the real truth – yet we believe them as fact.
Many today are asking questions like, “why did this project fail?”, “why did my spouse leave me?”, “why did my friend betray me?”, “why would a person do that to me?”, or “why can’t I seem to get anything right these days?”
I believe a certain amount of reflection on these questions is appropriate and necessary. It’s probably a good idea to look at your own choices in a matter to see if a certain behavior, action, or belief caused a problem to happen (especially if there are repeated problems). Often working through these things with a trusted friend, coach, or family member will produce some solid answers.
Then, at some point, when you’ve evaluated your choices, looked at your actions, and truthfully determined that the situation you are trying to resolve is beyond your control – you have to move on.
We all know this, but it’s so hard to move from it. Even after determining you have done everything right, made good choices, and had nothing but pure motives at heart – even if you are certain you are not the problem – you will still linger at why? and fail to move on.
It’s at this point you need someone – again, a friend, a coach, or someone truthful and respected in your life to wake you up out of your trance. Someone to get you out of the “why?” mode and back into action.
It’s paralyzing to be stuck at “why?” The longer you stay there, the deeper your roots get and the more difficult it will be to move on.
I admire pro athletes and successful entrepreneurs. The most successful seem to have this ability to quickly evaluate the “why?” question, find reasonable answers, and move on. When a Super Bowl MVP quarterback like Peyton Manning throws an interception, he spends a few minutes on the sideline with coaches see why it happened, but then puts on his helmet and gets ready for the next drive. Guys like Howard Schultz, Warren Buffet, and Milton Hershey failed often yet have massive success stories because of their ability, in my opinion, to not dwell on the “why?”, but move on from it.
Are you paralyzed by the “why is this happening to me?” question or are you able to move on from it?