Really? Yes! Asking WHY sends your thoughts in the wrong direction. Think about it. When you ask “why” you will likely hear nothing but negative and inflammatory and even hurtful answers — especially when asking the question about yourself — but usually equally true when you ask why about someone else.
Reflect a moment. The typical, unhealthy answers to “why did I do that?” are things like: I’m stupid; there’s something wrong with me; I’m ALWAYS doing the wrong thing; I have no idea why (ANOTHER WHY gets inserted) I did that, so it must be because I’m crazy! I ALWAYS make the wrong choices and only nutty people do that…..These are all thought distortions. None of them are accurate because they mask and exaggerate the truth. And the truth may be challenging enough all on it’s own….so confounding the truth by beating up on yourself is not the right pathway to self examination.
Maybe this already tells you that WHY about the behavior of another person is equally bad. Because? It simply does not reveal useful, workable answers and directions for change. WHY did ______ do what he/she did? The typical response rolling around in our thoughts: The person is BAD, hates me, is an idiot, isn’t trustworthy….and I don’t ever have to talk to him/her again! Well, you may not be that distorted in your thinking — however, many people are — and you MIGHT just slip into that kind of thinking momentarily!
The alternative? Use these words instead: what, when, where, how did ____________. These questions activate thoughts in your wonderful head that are geared to problem solving, self examination, reflection — and answers that help you head in a direction that actually leads to more likely positive outcomes.
My clients ask me why on a regular basis. AND they gradually learn to “hear” the question as it comes out their mouths….because we have discussed it. Getting that question removed from your vocabulary will help you! Truly. A short hand way to describe “why” is to remember that once it’s in your head/thoughts, you have “tumbled down the rabbit hole.” That just means you are in a dark and downward fall….where thoughts are jumbled and untrue and distorted and guaranteed to shield you from “the light” back up at the top of the rabbit hole!
When you ask questions that direct you to solutions or at least to options, write the answers…see how much more clear you are likely to be. The difference in asking WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW does not solve the problem or the confusion, but it will help you think more clearly, be more kind to yourself and others, and hopefully lift the extent of anxious and depressed feelings that get generated with WHY.
If you want to learn more about negative and distorted thinking, search my blogs for detailed definitions/descriptions/helpful suggestions….or read my book: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH! It outlines the typical negative questions many of us ask.
Mainly, hang in there with self examination and clear thinking. And when you need help, try talking to someone. You can always contact me. You deserve to feel better!