2 Jun 2016

When Why Gets in the Way

I love Why – it’s my go to question. I’m a professional mediator – so by nature, and by training, my first question is always, “why?” Why do you want that? Why do you think that? Why do you think they think that? Why do you think they did that and want that? And, why on God’s green earth would they say that?

Why is almost always a good starting point for all personal growth or conflict resolution. Knowing the why is critical in the initial stages of self analysis or self discovery. Why am I this way? Why can’t I do that? Why am I always choosing this? Why does that bother me, upset me or frighten me? And why do I perpetually find myself in this challenging situation? Why is helpful in the “peeling the onion stage” when you are getting to what’s really at the heart of the matter – the core thing that is underneath all of the situational circumstances.

Asking, and then discovering, what is really going on is critical in conflict resolution. It’s critical to understanding your true interests and motivations, and it’s critical to shifting all involved parties away from staunch, inflexible positions to the arena of collaboration and constructive problem solving. The why moves us to interest based negotiation. When we can get down to the whys of what we want, or don’t want, we can effectively create satisfying solutions that solve for our true needs and interests .

But, here is the “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson” part: At a certain juncture, the analysis phase needs to end. “Why” becomes less helpful, and often obstructive, once you’ve reached the change phase. Why becomes a distraction, a diversion. Ongoing questioning becomes a habitual, unconscious, tactical maneuver that serves solely to keep you stuck right where you are, safe and sound, but stuck, avoiding the unknown risks of change. Continued questioning can be a stumbling block or total road closure. Endless ruminating over the whys, must stop when it is no longer relevant and isn’t serving your intended objective to move forward. When our energies shift to focusing on initiating change, we need to stop asking all the “whys” Even, why we feel the way we do. We need to get over the analysis phase to move on. At this point, think Frozen and let it go. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions are coming up and flooding through your minds and bodies. Feel them completely. Notice and ponder them for a brief moment and then let the questioning go. Don’t get sidetracked into a cerebral analysis of… But Why???? Instead, ask, But where? Where do I want to go? Where do I want to land? And then, move forward, sideways or back – whichever direction sets you on a clear path to the destination at which you are eager to arrive.



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