What, not Why

"The devil made me do it!"

A thought has been tumbling around in my mind about how well we can pinpoint a 'why' someone does what he or she does, and then presume we can predict behavior. Hindsight is 20/20.

It's a bit of faulty logic, and we are raised to think that, if we can just get an answer, the question to ask is "Why?" Well, the common answer to that question may be, "Because I said so." "Why did you do that?" "I don't know." The answer to a 'why' question is not a reason, it is an excuse. A more logical approach would be to ask a 'what' question: "What were you thinking when you did..." "What happened that caused you to...?" "What is going on?"

Test it on yourself and see what you come up with. Ask yourself, "Why am I feeling ______ right now?"

Then, ask yourself, "What is the reason I'm feeling _________ right now?"

The answer to 'why' question will probably be something like, "Because I got a big check in the mail" or "The sun is shining" or "Because my boss patted my back today."

The answer to the 'what' question will probably be something like, "I feel ______because I..." or "I succeeded today when I..." or "I really like the way the sun feels so warm."

Do you see the difference? Answers to the 'why' questions result in answers that take the focus away from the person and lands the fault onto external circumstances, effectively sidetracking any responsibility whatsoever on how that person is feeling. Answers to the 'what' questions take full responsibility for feelings, owns them completely, and is a more accurate representation of that person's internal cause or truth.

When I am asked, "Why did you...", the most common answer I give is, "The devil made me do it!" Isn't that what you wanted to hear?

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