Monday, April 4, 2022

Want to Move Forward in your Life? Shift your Focus from ‘Why’ to ‘What Now’

 Where you decide to go next is far more important than how you got here.

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

There are innumerable issues that bring people to therapy and coaching. Folks usually want to feel happier, more confident, less angry, and the like. Before diving into making changes to improve their situation, answers to the “why” questions are frequently top of mind, as in:

Why do I get so angry with strangers, or procrastinate on important projects, or turn a positive moment into waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Much as I hate to admit it, those questions often can’t be answered definitively, even after weeks, months and sometimes years of exploration. How would we know if we did get the “right” answer to the source of your anger issues, procrastination or worrying?

A closely related set of “why” questions pertain to the motivations of others. We can spend hours investigating why your wife cheated on you, why your daughter drinks too much or why [your question here].

The thing is, not much is certain when it comes to what motivates us. For a variety of reasons, we can’t even answer the “why” question about ourselves (e.g., Why did I think it was a good idea to go to law school because two years in I’m bored to death?) much less about someone else.

Why, you ask (hahaha)?

Consider how you might answer a question about yourself now, vs how you answered it one or two years ago, vs how you might answer it two years from now. As the end-of-history illusion demonstrates, our understanding changes over time, as do our narratives about our lives, even though this is very difficult to imagine.

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