The Why Trap – Why Asking Why Can Be a Lie
First, it is important to mention that there are times when asking “Why” can be useful and even beneficial. There are some journeys we take into deeper exploration of ourselves, the world around us and beyond (aka spiritual journeys) where asking "why?", is an essential part of the quest. Asking why can be like a doorway leading us into these deeper expeditions into the unknown.
However, this brief discussion is focused on the pitfalls of asking “why” in the day-to-day grind when asking why about less important things can derail the flow of our progress. If we spend too much and energy on the mundane “why” questions in life we can easily find ourselves stuck in the “Why trap” –
Consider some examples of “why” questions that can be harmful and unproductive to ruminate on:
Ø Why didn’t that person say hello to me?
Ø Why did my aunt buy my sister's kid a nicer graduation present than she did for my kid?
Ø Why did my boss blame me for what went wrong today at work when a lot of other people made the same mistake before?
(These examples are revisited below)
Knowing the why answers can be helpful when distinct answers are available but sadly in life, many “why” answers are either beyond our reach or simply “unknowable” at least in the short run. When our progress gets derailed by getting caught up in repetitious “why” thinking and questioning, then we are stuck in “The Why Trap”. We are officially caught in the Why Trap when we cannot move on or move forward because we are looking for an answer we may never get or to a question that is not even worth asking.
Escaping the Why Trap – The following are some introspective coping questions we can ask ourselves to try to get out of a Why Trap:
1. Am I missing information? – If I knew all the facts, would I feel differently and be able to move on?
Ø For example – Why didn’t that person say hello to me?
COPING THOUGHTS - Am I missing information? Maybe that person who didn’t say hello to me is going through something difficult that has nothing to do with me.
2. Does it even matter? Do I really need to care about this? Is there a chance I could just drop it and move on? (Acceptance: It is what it is and that’s all it is)
Ø For example - Why did my aunt buy my sisters kid a nicer graduation present than she did for my kid?
COPING THOUGHTS - Does it even matter? She bought my kid a gift, the rest is not my concern: a gift is a gift and I am grateful
3. Can I practice the important process of just letting go, even if its little by little?
Ø For example - Why did my boss blame me for what went wrong today at work when a lot of other people made the same mistake before?
COPING THOUGHTS - Can I work on letting go? This is stressful but there is no point dwelling on it, I am just going to do my best to look forward and forget about it and not let one bad day ruin my week – With some problems in life, the best you can hope for is to just think about them less
Closing question: What are some situations in your life where you may find yourself getting caught up in the Why Trap? ‘
Ø How are you going to cope?