Why Why is the Wrong Question

As I’m writing this I asking myself “Why did I drink that Diet Coke?” I feel awful and am really wishing I hadn’t.

Which is kind of funny because in my twenties I had a killer addiction to the stuff. We’re talking two 32 ounce Diet Cokes slurped down every day at work.

But I stopped that long ago, and in fact, can’t even remember the last time I had one.

Today, for some reason though, it sounded good to me. I’m guessing it’s because I had a bit of a headache and was feeling tired, so I thought the caffeine might help plus there’s nothing quite like the carbonated bite of a soda.

Except now I feel even worse.

My head is seriously pounding, my stomach is churning and my hands are shaky from the caffeine (I don’t get much of that these days either). I suspect a big glass of hydrating water would have been a much better choice.

Which leaves me here, asking myself WHY? Why did I do that? What was I thinking? Why, why, why?

Why is the Wrong Question

When you’re full of regret, the worst question you can ask yourself is why.

Rather than helping you arrive at brilliant insights that will keep you from making the same mistake again, which is why our logical mind wants to ask the question. Asking why leads to self-recrimination and mental name-calling.

It usually goes something like this (in your head of course):

Why did you do that?

I thought it was a good idea?

Seriously? You had to know that there was no good way for that to turn out.

I know.

Stupid, [insert personal habitual insults] stupid.

So then you feel directly bad about the thing that you were already regretting, and get to layer on some bad feelings about the decision-making that got you there.

Lose, lose.

There are better ways to deal with regret.

You can ask yourself how. How gets you to what you really want to know.

How can I bookmark this and remember that I don’t want to do it again?

How can I let it go?

How can I handle this situation differently in the future?

For me, I am taking this opportunity to really feel all these unpleasant physical sensations as I look at the Diet Coke can. I want that image of Diet Coke to be forever paired with feeling crappy, because that’s how it always ends up for me.

Now, no hate mail about the Diet Coke, because this really isn’t about the soda, you know.

Photo credit: Why? by buzzfarmers on flickr


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