What to ask instead of Why

We’ve already talked about why why is the wrong question, but that doesn’t keep it from showing up.

They seem like reasonable enough questions on the surface.

But notice how you feel when you ask yourself those why questions.

Why am I doing this thing I don’t want to be doing.
Why did I eat this, drink that.
Why can’t I? Why do I? Why, why why?

Not so good I suspect. They aren’t usually asked with genuine curiosity and compassion. They’re usually asked with recrimination and are followed very closely by name-calling and uselessness.

While it might be useful to understand why you do something on a deeper level, when you’re in the thick of it, isn’t the best time to ask. In fact, it’s not even necessary to change how you’re feeling and your behavior in that moment.

Understanding isn’t necessary to do it differently

And that, is what you’re after by asking the question. You want to feel differently, act differently. Change the pattern.

The good news is, that by asking yourself why, you’ve interrupted the behavior enough to make a change. You have created an opportunity to move forward in a conscious way. And that makes all the difference.

Let why wake you up

Let the why question be a reminder to pay attention. To notice what it is that you’re doing, feeling, experiencing, wanting in that moment. And what you aren’t doing, feeling, experiencing, wanting in that moment.

Why did I just eat another piece of chocolate cake?


Oh, I’m really enjoying the taste and the companionship of my friends and I want to hold on to that. I’m noticing that I’m brushing off how I know it will make me feel physically later. I notice that I’m linking the cake with the friendship. I’m turning it into part of the shared experience. I notice that I’m actually really full. I’m noticing that I didn’t even realize that I had already eaten half of it.


Now you are aware. You are conscious of what you’re doing. And now you can check in and see what really matters to you.

What’s it like if you put don’t your fork and continue to engage with your friends. What’s it like if you really savor each bite of the cake.

What do you really want in the moment?

And how can you give it to yourself in some small way.


Photo credit: ridiculously good chocolate cake by thepinkpeppercorn


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