The one question I stopped asking myself that almost bettered my mental health immediately was, “Why?”
We often ask why questions to get to the root or foundation of something. We ask to understand. That might be fair if you’re a journalist or reporter, but doesn’t work well as the primary question you ask yourself to understand your motivations and decisions.
“Why…?” Almost always produces anxiety and defensiveness. Think about the last time someone asked you why you did something, how did it make you feel? And how did you respond?
Chances are you didn’t react so well. It’s a near impossible question to answer. Why questions almost always produce shame and guilt, and those emotions are notorious for halting progress.
Why didn’t you go to the gym earlier?
Why do you keep going out with him?
Why did you spend so much on those clothes when you have other bills?
I think you get my point.
Why often leads us to blaming or shaming ourselves. Asking that question activates a highly skilled internal critic (that many of us have), and it just feeds on the negative feelings of guilt, shame and worry. That often leaves us paralyzed to make any real progress.
I’m sure you’re now asking, “but what if you want to hold yourself accountable what questions should you ask?” How else should you look internally? Think more often of “what” and “how” questions.
Instead of “Why the hell did I do that?” Ask yourself, “How did I get to this choice?”
Instead of asking yourself, “Why am I still dating this person I know isn’t the best for me?” Ask yourself, “What is it about them that keeps me going back?”
It’s been my experience that asking yourself more of these questions produces a healthy kind of exploration that won’t leave you reeling in self-blame but more focused on creating solutions and identifying the steps forward.
Because you deserve it.