when to ask why?

“Know your why.”

We all know that why? is one of the most important questions to ask and answer. It’s one of the first questions we ask as our curiosity evolves. We ask it endlessly – just ask the parent of any two year old!

Why? is the last of the 5Ws, but not the least (who, what, when, where, why).

We need to ask why we are doing something, why we want to achieve something, why we want to invest of ourselves so that we can use the answer to keep us motivated when things get challenging.

We need to ask ourselves why? when we want to be really clear that a choice or a decision we are about to make is in alignment with our highest good, our long-term goals, or even our own self-interest.

The 5 Whys is a popular tool for problem solving, for drilling down to find the root cause so that you can actually solve the right problem, not just a symptom.

But there are times when we should not ask why?… times when it is not helpful and may even be counterproductive.

Here are some examples of times that we should steer clear of asking why?

  • when we are spinning in confusion, remorse, guilt, blame or shame
  • when we can’t actually get an answer that will satisfy us
  • when not knowing increases our anxiety
  • when we are using confusion as an excuse not to move forward
  • when we are really asking who we can blame
  • when we are over-analyzing someone else’s behavior

In the midst of the above situations, why? might seem like a logical question to ask – logical and unbiased even – but it’s really not helpful for our overall mental health. Asking why? in these cases just increases the confusion, anxiety and spinning – and even if we did find an answer, it wouldn’t help us to move forward.

So if I notice that I’m caught in the spin cycle, I change up the questions. I get some help from the other Ws – and an H!

  • Who do I need to forgive? (It might be me!)
  • What am I actually avoiding by focusing on why?
  • What other question might bring me clarity?
  • When I’ve encountered something like this before, what worked for me?
  • Where do I need to let go of control?
  • How can I find peace in this situation?
  • How can I more easily move forward?

These questions can feel a whole lot easier – as in ease and grace. Maybe they’re simpler. Give them a try and see how they feel for you. Or if you have something that works for you, please share it in a comment!

Why not?

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,



Are you interested in being the leader you are meant to be? Send me an email and we can set up a time to talk: maggie@maggiehuffman.com

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