Friday, February 8, 2013

When Asking WHY Is and Is Not a Good Idea

Something happens, and we want to know Why me? Why this? Why now? But those are not the best questions to ask. When is asking Why the right question?

When something unpleasant happens, we tend to ask why; and often, negative stories quickly get attached as our ego-aspect starts rifling through old emotional files or starts imagining new, equally unpleasant (or worse) scenarios. The ego-aspect tends to embellish what-is, makes it even more dramatic, as though what-is isn’t already enough. If we have difficulty dealing with what-is, we won’t or don’t do better if we make our feelings about what happened even more intense in our mind.

What happens the first time we ask WHY and attach negative stories (or any time we practice negativity) is akin to the earth shifting a bit underfoot. We look down and see we’re standing in a shallow indent. Each subsequent time we follow this mental path, the hole gets a bit deeper. Do this enough times, and with enough emotion, and you eventually find yourself in the hole up to your neck, if not deeper. You may perceive or feel that you’re in so deep that you believe you can’t get out. That isn’t true, though; you can get out. If you’re in really deep, you may have to ask for assistance; but as long as you’re alive and conscious, you can get out.

One way to get out, perhaps the best way, is to change your why question to a how question: How can I heal from here or How can I move forward from here? Just keep in mind that “here” means you start from where you are, not from where your ego-aspect thinks you should be. You don’t have to wait for conditions to be a certain way or for someone to say or do a certain thing: you can start where you are, because it’s an inner journey first and foremost, no matter what.

Another helpful thing to do is to choose peace. This doesn’t mean an outward demonstration of it when you don’t feel it. No “Fake it till you make it”, please. You want genuine inner peace, which opens you in more ways than you might imagine, and leads you into natural, effortless outward demonstrations of the inner peace you feel. Responses you get from others and life when you are peaceful, as opposed to when your emotions are or stay roiled, are as different as night and day. If you want peace, be peace. Easier said than done? Sometimes; but it’s an excellent touchstone or guiding star.

How you attain inner peace is as much a part of the process as having it: it’s something you have to determine for yourself. “Why aren’t I peaceful?” is an unhelpful question that causes the mind to search for and find many things that upset you, in order to respond to your question, but not provide any solution or resolution. “How can I be peaceful?” or “How can I be peace” are effective questions that open your mind to find a better path to follow. A quick answer to this latter question: choose it.

There is a time, however, when WHY is a good question to ask; and it comes from an interview I watched of Evanna Lynch, the young woman who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films. She’d read the books in print at the time, and was familiar with the character. When she saw the casting call, she thought, “Someone has to be Luna. Why not me?”

Someone has to be happy, serene, kind, peaceful, peace-promoting, forgiving, generous, spiritually aware, content, loving, fulfilled, in a right relationship, successful, creative, inspired, fun, having fun, employed or employed well, spiritually and emotionally strong, and so forth. Why not you? Think of your own words and follow them with, “Why not me?” The first thing you have to do to receive your good is be open to allowing it in. This “why not me” question unlocks the door.

It’s a question you can apply to anything you imagine or dream about, but perhaps feel some doubt about attaining, achieving, or accomplishing. If you think about it, why not you; especially, if someone has to fill that role, whatever that role may be.

Our inner work is as much about equipping ourselves to move through and beyond challenges with as much grace as we can muster, as it is to smooth some of the rough spots ahead of us on the path before we reach them. Change your questions and you can change your experience of life. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate. 

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

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