Why “WHY?” Is A Sucky Question…

Why “WHY?” Is A Sucky Question…

A pencil writing "why?" on a piece of lined paper.

…to others or to yourself:

  • It doesn’t solve anything or change behaviors.
  • It is often interpreted as “explain/defend yourself.”
  • We are not logical creatures. In fact, it’s been proven that we often create the “why” after the fact as justification for ourselves.
  • There is not always a discoverable answer.
  • If it is discoverable, rarely can it impact what you need to do/change now.
  • It’s too open-ended, and without parameters, so often leaves people at a loss for an answer, yet under pressure to offer one.

I call why “mental masturbation.”

It’s like paying a gym membership every month and feeling virtuous, without actually putting in the work. Asking why, speaking about why, knowing why (assuming you’re actually honest with yourself, or those you ask are honest with themselves and you) doesn’t actually change anything—unless you put in the work.

And you can put in the work to change without knowing why, so I don’t personally bother with that step, unless I have a few hours to kill self-obssessing and casting blame.

Which is rare, but not never.

I’m flawed. I know this.

And the absolute WORST whys are…

Those self-indulgent sessions when we sit alone, or with a group of our most rabidly supportive besties, poring over the most minute details over our latest relationship crash-and-burn, dissecting WHY each thing must have happened, from our perspective (because we don’t really know theirs) in the most flattering light to ourselves (usually, although sometimes it’s the opposite), just so that we can poke that sore spot over and over and over in a mashochistic why orgy.

And I’m pretty sure we’ve all done it.

Cast ourselves (sometimes) or our exes (often) as the villain, because their whys are just so… choose your adjective:

  • juvenile
  • narcissistic
  • cruel
  • selfish
  • unaware

And blah blah blah.

What instead of Why…

I prefer to use “what” questions when I communicate, with myself and others.

Rather than:

Why do you like feet? (for example)

Which MAY give me the answers I’m looking for, or may get me a slightly defensive, “I dunno, I just do,” which can actually move me further from my goals of connecting.

I ask, “What is your favorite part of feet?”

Or, “What is your ideal foot scene?” or, “Do you like feet in nylons or fishnets or high heels?” or “What are your favorite foot-related fantasies?”

Which gets me closer to what I want to know, to bring me closer to the person I’m talking to.

You may never know WHY

When it comes right down to it, you may never know why, even thought you desperately want to. You don’t have to let that stop you from changing your behavior, growing, being more effective, or avoiding similar debacles in your future.

Credit: Eric, CC2.0

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