In a world driven by self-discovery and personal growth, it's become almost a mantra to constantly ask ourselves, "Why?"
We're told that understanding our purpose, our motivations, and our deepest desires begins with probing the question, "Why?"
Yet, what if I told you that starting with "Why" might not be all we've been led to believe it is?
What if I suggested that "Starting with Why" can lead to creating a tangled mess of cognitive dysfunction?
Let's embark on a journey to dismantle the conventional wisdom of asking "Why".
The Pitfalls of Asking "Why"
Asking "Why" seems innocent enough.
Toddlers do it all the time!
It implies a quest for purpose, a desire to unearth the motivations driving actions and decisions.
Many self-help gurus and motivational speakers advocate for relentless introspection, urging us to peel back the layers of our psyche to find that elusive "Why?"
The answer will supposedly unlock the door to our true selves and guide us in all our decision-making.
However, the problem lies in the very nature of the question.
Here are a few reasons that explain how "Why" is the wrong approach:
"Why" often forces us to look backward
"Why" often forces us to look backward, to seek explanations for our past choices, actions, and circumstances. Most of the reasoning for our actions, environmental or emotional triggers are gone. "Why" asks us to rely upon our memory, which is often biased and faulty. While retrospection can be valuable, it can also tether us to our history, making it difficult to move forward.
"Why" is infinite
Asking "Why" can often lead us into a labyrinth of infinite answers.
It can take us on a journey that, while intriguing, can be counterproductive when trying to determine what actions to take.
This endless quest for the root cause of our motivations and decisions can leave us trapped in a web of complex, interconnected reasons that may not offer clear guidance for our future steps.
The pursuit of "Why" can become a never-ending loop of introspection, making it challenging to pinpoint practical, actionable solutions or goals.
Trap yourself in a car with a toddler, 3-5 years old, who continously asks you why.
Just when you think you have finally answered them, the question just keeps coming back.
"Why" is ineffective with certain disorders
We all have a lot going on in between their ears.
For individuals working through depression, anxiety, cognitive, or personality disorders, the constant interrogation of "Why" can be particularly ineffective and counterproductive.
These conditions often involve a heightened sensitivity to self-doubt and negative self-perception.
Asking "Why" in this context can amplify self-criticism and rumination, increasing emotional distress.
It can lead to a never-ending cycle of self-blame and guilt, making it even more challenging to break free from the grip of these disorders.
"Why" can lead to manipulation
"Why" can be easily manipulated by those in positions of authority or influence. Consider this: in corporate settings, a hiring manager might ask the question, "Why do you want this job?" While the question appears to encourage ambition and self-reflection, it can also be a tool of control. The pursuit of your "Why" can be used to steer you to the allure of non-financial compensation.
Why give you compensation from the profits when you can have all the intangible rewards such as personal satisfaction, purpose, and a sense of belonging?
It's admirable to pursue a sense of meaning and mission in business endeavors.
However, it's crucial to strike a balance between the non-financial rewards of "Why" and the financial stability that allows both employees and the business to thrive and grow.
The answer to "Why" can be molded to fit the narratives or objectives of those in hierarchies above us.
Consider how this is used in politics, religion, and families.
Back in the business world, if a manager has reservations about promoting an employee they can easily dismiss their aspirations by questioning them with "Why!?"
This manipulation of our motivations can be stifling.
It often discourages us from pursuing our dreams and ambitions.
Oh, and I will mention this also occurs in personal relationships.
Have you ever asked a partner for some affection and they respond with "Why?!?"
In a world where the pressure to discover our "Why" can be overwhelming, it's time to rethink our approach to self-actualization and purpose.
Starting with "Why" can leave us stuck in a web of explanations and easily influenced by external forces.
It can also make us idle, standing still to uncover our "secret power" before me make any decision on building the future.
In contrast, starting with "What" empowers us to chart our own course, set our own goals, and take control of our destinies.
I will be adding more to that thought in my next post: Start with "What": The Path to Productive Fulfillment.
Thanks for reading my notes,