When you’re stuck or struggling with anxiety, addiction, etc, asking yourself why is not that important. Why? Let me explain.
You may often ask yourself things like: “Why do I feel so low? Why do I always drink too much? Why can’t I stop smoking?”
Your brain is an answer-making machine. Ask yourself some questions, and you will be compelled to answer.
The problem with “Why” is that, very often, the answer you get is simply “I don’t know”. An easy cop-out.
If you get another answer, it is rarely an objective, logical one and will be tainted by the issue you’re questioning:
- “Why” tends to assign blame
- “Why” gets nothing done
- “Why” keeps you stuck right where you are
Now, imagine you pass by someone trapped in a crashed car. Do you spend time asking “Why did this person crash and is now bleeding to death?” or do you call for help? I seriously hope you’d call for help.
The same thing applies to your mental health and your mental state. If you’re stuck in a problem, knowing why could be nice, but not often useful.
If you want to get unstuck and move on to the road to recovery, I recommend two questions:
1. What do you want?
2. How do you get it?
You can also use this variant:
1. Where do you want to be?
2. How do you get there?
What do those questions do?
“What/Where” focuses on a goal or destination. Even if you don’t know yet what it is, your brain will feel compelled to give you an answer. Once you have that answer, you can focus on that goal rather than where you’re currently stuck.
“How” will prime your brain to be on the lookout for strategies, opportunities and resources to achieve what you want. It will find ways to help you move toward you goal.
Have a go at them. You can use them for both trivial and ambitious goals:
- What do you want for dinner?
- What do you want from your relationship?
- Where do you want to be next year job-wise?
- What state of mind do you want to be in?
Quick advice: make sure you ask yourself what you DO want, instead of what you DON’T want. “I don’t want to be depressed,” “I don’t want to be fat,” “I don’t want to smoke,” etc… – the list of things you don’t want is endless. Personally, I’m not keen on being set on fire or eaten alive by a bear.
Aim your questions at positive goals.
So now, please tell me: What do you want? How do you get it?