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The Why Doesn’t Always Matter

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know, one of my favorite concepts is curiosity.  I fully and whole heartedly believe the world doesn’t have enough curiosity.  Curiosity about behaviors, thoughts, emotions and other people.  We are too filled with judgement, shame, or guilt and we miss the very important elements of just being curious.  Curiosity is an amazing freeing concept.

HOWEVER, and this is where I am branching a bit.  Sometimes rather than being a freeing concept curiosity can become a practice of justifying and judgment.  I notice it a lot with myself and my clients who have the habit of justifying their stress.

Let’s take Mindy.

Mindy wakes up feeling stressed and she immediately gets curious–why am I feeling this way today.  And she precedes to list of all the possible contributors:

I have a big meeting tomorrow and I am worried about it;

my husband and I had a disagreement last night;

I wasn’t as present to the kids as I should have been;

lately I have done a lousy job of work life balance.

Mindy does an excellent job of being curious.  Obviously, Mindy has a lot of reasons to be stressed.  It is in the next phase that things get sticky.  Mindy, does one of two things.

  1. She starts beating herself up because she really doesn’t have that much on her plate, she has ‘privilege people problems’ and she should be more grateful.  OR
  2. She immediately picks up the stress of the work meeting, and her feeling like a lousy wife and mother and heads out the door feeling worse than she did when she woke up.

The key part that is missing, in Mindy’s curiosity about her stress, is curiosity around how to give back to herself.   The curiosity around why am I stressed is an exercise not of justification but awareness.  It isn’t a test to see “is my life worthy of this feeling” but rather an acknowledgement of the feeling and the factors that might be contributing to it.  Mindy missed the key part of following her stress litany with a pause, a few deep breaths, and then getting curious about what might help her ease her stress.  Asking herself what can I add into my life today that will give me some self love, that will fill up my bucket again.  No judgement, no shame, just acceptance.

What I have found is the second step gets missed quite frequently (I am guilty of it myself).  So last week I decided to practice skipping the first step, skipping the why. I woke up and felt stressed and I didn’t go into my normal litany (similar to Mindy’s) I didn’t have any curiosity about what was behind the stress.  I just noticed the stress.  Took a couple deep breaths, put my hands on my heart and kept repeating to myself, “You are ok right where you are”.  Then after a few moments, I would ask what could I do to ease the stress, make a cup of tea, go for a walk, call a friend etc. Throughout the week I practiced just giving myself acceptance where I was and curiosity if anything could be added.  And I felt better.  It was amazingly freeing to not get stuck in justification to not go through the why.

So if you are someone who knows you get stuck in the why and rather than experiencing freedom you are experiencing shame or guilt.  Trying skipping the why and moving right to acceptance.

Can you relate?  Do you get stuck in the why?

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