Little kids have no trouble asking why. They are learning, gathering information, sorting through all the facts, and they are apt to know that asking “why” leads them down pretty interesting rabbit trails. And these information trails usually render some pretty interesting answers.
So why not take a page from their inquisitiveness, curiosity book? (I mean, we were kids once, and it didn’t bother us to ask why a million times over and over? Let’s re-pick up the habit, shall we?)
Why ask “Why?”
Because it’s usually a tougher question to answer. We have to process, stretch our brains a bit, weed out all the junk that derails us into thinking about what we want to (I want to surf), how we want to do it (let’s start off with an expert!), where and when we want to do it (on a sunny, warm ocean). All of those details are not necessarily “junk” – they are essential to us accomplishing sail surfing successfully so we want to do it again – yet they cover up the true motivation of why we want to surf in the first place. “Why” provides us a direct link to the purpose, intent, and expected outcome (not output!) of what we want to accomplish via surfing.
For example, let’s say my “why” for surfing is: I haven’t done anything adventurous in a long time, and this activity would give me the opportunity to test myself and prove to myself that I still have the chops to take on a new, physical challenge – and even get a handle on my fear of being out in the ocean. There’s a lot more meat in that answer, for sure.
But I didn’t get there right off the bat. My first “why” answer was more along the lines of “because it looks like fun, and out here in Cali, everyone has a board.” There is a huge gap between those two answers. Can you guess which one resonates more with me, motivates me to look into this sport, pushes me beyond my fear of sharks and dark, lengthy seaweed corals? Definitely not the answer that everyone else is doing it.
An exercise on repeated asking
In the “To Thine Own Self be True,” I used the example of a child asking their Dad why they loved their mom. The series was a bit lengthy, and as I was writing, I realized that I could have gone on and on.
And not in a bad way. I mean, if the child kept asking “why,” the Dad could have explained what he valued about Mom’s adventurous side, he could have explained why that was attractive to him, he could have explained how it provided their family opportunities to explore new places together and create memories, he could have explained how creating fun memories was something he valued because his parents had done the same thing and it was good to pass stories along from generation to generation, he could have explained what he valued about women, etc., etc.
And if like me, as I shared in “To Thine Own Self be True,” parts of your true self are laying unclaimed in the “lost & found” box, and you want to get them back, asking “why” 100 times is small effort in comparison to getting your own self back.
How to start
Gather pen & paper, a note taking app, whatever material you feel comfortable with where you can write down your answer AND see it often!
Identify what you are missing.
Look through photos, old and current. You need a visual! The more spontaneous the photo, the better – you’re looking for the ones where you were caught off guard, or rather, where someone saw you as you truly were and were quick enough to hit the click button and capture that instant. Look for the ones that stop you, hold your attention.
Once you find at least one, compare who that person was, in that moment, with who you are today. (And I’m not talking physical comparisons– we’re not going through this exercise to see why we need to fit into a size 0.) When you are doing that comparison, can you see if something has been lost, something that you miss? Write it down.
Ask why, repeatedly.
Keep digging, keep revealing and peeling the layers of this answer. I was embarrassed and humbled by my answers, and I did feel the pain of my loss, so I encourage you to be gentle on yourself. You are here today to reconnect with yourself, in a stronger, bolder, more beautiful way. Forgive yourself and your past choices, okay?
Here are some sample “why” questions to help:
- Why do I miss this part of myself?
- Why do I want to reconnect with this emotion/passion/experience?
- Why did I give this up?
- Why do I need this part of myself?
- Why is this essential to your life, your well-being, your passion, your relationships?
- Why would going after this be more important that keeping the status quo?
As a purposeful wanderer, what other “why” questions would be helpful here? Write them down in the comments so that we can expand the list.
Give yourself a couple of “sessions”
Some answers might come easy, and others may need to develop over some time, as your brain and heart work through removing the top-layer details. Other answers may seem like a right fit at first but after some composting and turning over, may reshape themselves into a nice surprise.
Write your final “Why” down.
Congratulations, you’ve spent some focused effort on repeatedly asking yourself some easy/tough questions.
Now it’s time to lay claim to what you lost. You’ve got to mark the spot so that as you work towards retrieving, you know exactly what you are fighting for and why you are fighting for it. You’ve got to lay claim to what you lost and state WHY IT MATTERS TO YOU.
Write it down (I’m all for physically writing something down – the act of my fingers holding a pen and my arm and wrist pushing them as I force the pen to paper connects strongly with my mind, making me remember and imprinting the statement not only in paper but brain and heart).
Use this written statement as your marker as a GPS of “X marking the spot” and to remind yourself why you can’t lose this again.
Getting stuff out of the Lost & Found
The lost & found contains plenty of random items. Some parts of ourselves that we lost should remain in our past – we have either outgrown them or needed them only for a season of our lives.
There may be some materials in the lost & found that we didn’t even realize we had lost (kind of like the pesky single socks in the dryer!).
We may have to pull out lots of coats, tie dye shirts, hair bands, etc., before we even find what we are looking for. That is part of retrieving – it takes some effort, a little perspiration, and some determination. The cool part is that at some point of this search, of us hanging over the edge of this huge container, we’ll refind a gem. I hope that your retrieval journey results in a priceless find (because you are priceless!).
Photo Source: https://stocksnap.io/
I love reflecting on purposeful, thought-provoking life experiences and turning them into life purposes. I am a writer dedicated to sharing life-lessons to empower women to attain their best life by turning experiences into passion-driven action.
When I'm not studying life, I'm intentionally living it. I enjoy art (admiring it and creating it), nature, and I'm a beginner sewer in the attempt to sew my own unique clothes.
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