How to Change “Why” to “What”

It is common in times of stress to ask “why.” Why did he leave me? Why did I say that? Why is the world so chaotic? “Why” is a natural response to a lack of understanding, and knowing the answer may be comforting.

Asking and answering this question can be important in many situations. Being aware of our feelings, thoughts and actions in a situation can lead to great learning and growth. When we have responsibility for resolving a situation, it is important to know why and how our responses affected the outcome. We can then change our thinking and therefore respond differently another time.

However, “why” sometimes cannot be answered. When something out of our control occurs, there is no helpful answer to that question. And repeated asking, getting stuck in the question, leaves us stuck in the past, stopping all forward movement.

Sometimes it is helpful to focus on acceptance and mindfulness. “Why did he leave me?” can become “He left. It happened.” The next time you become aware of becoming mired in the “why,” try replacing the question with “what.” “What do I need to know now to move forward? What question can I ask instead that will help me let go?”

Then with answers to the “what,” you have a foundation to build new and better ways of being. You live mindfully, aware in the moment of the fact that, as in the quote, “your peace is more important.”

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