November 2013 Blog 2 - Why you ask? The words we use are powerful. : Peace in the Puzzle

November 2013 Blog 2 - Why you ask? The words we use are powerful.

by Susan Myhre Hayes on 11/24/13

November 2013 Blog 2 - Why you ask?  The words we use are powerful.

The words we use are important to the way they are perceived, and the word why can be a deadly.

When I was teaching parenting classes, we did an exercise to help parents see how deadly a word why can be.  At the beginning of the class, I asked several questions of specific individuals in the class.  Why didn't you give me the materials I asked you to bring last week?  Why do you always sit at the back of the room?  Why do you daydream during class?  Why is it only your wife who talks during this class?

While the answers varied somewhat from class to class, they all were said with embarrassment and had the same spirit, "Well, I'm not sure."  If I'd ask them why again, they usually were silent in their embarrassment.

Why can be a deadly word when used with others because it asks people to explain themselves and their behavior.  It puts people on the defensive. Try to imagine a positive answer when a teacher asks a student, why he did badly on a quiz.  No matter what the words, the answer will indicate that the student thinks he is too dumb to do well on the quiz.  By asking why we are requiring an answer to a question before they can change the behavior.


We tell ourselves that we ask the question why to try to understand the choices others make. This is, however, futile. When people make choices we would never make, we think that if we could figure out why they made them we would somehow understand, and that this understanding would make them do things in a way more to our liking.  They would see the light or better said, they would see OUR light.

One of the changes I made when I transformed to my intended self was giving up expectations of others.  The word why is loaded with expectation.  Why didn't you do better on a quiz, means I expect you to do well on a quiz after I taught you the material.  Why do you daydream during class, means I expect you to find my class interesting.  If you want better answers, try asking clearer questions by using other question words:  What can I do to help you do better on the next quiz?  How can I make the class more engaging for you?

Why is on the other hand, the perfect word for you to use with yourself as you begin your self-transformation.  Why tells you were the goal line is. Why focuses you on purpose.  It calls for reflection.

Why did I quit drinking?  I couldn't write in the evenings when I had too much wine, and I wanted to finish the book.  Why did I get my finances in order?  I needed to understand if I had enough resources to put towards publicizing my book.  Why did I stop having expectations of others?  My attempted micromanaging of others took up the time and energy I needed to focus on the writing of my book.   When I became discouraged I focused on the why of what I was doing.

As you begin your journey to become your intended self, use the word why sparingly with others and use it with yourself to find the purpose behind your self-transformation.

Why you ask?  The answer to that powerful question is up to you.

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                                     Becoming your Intended Self
Susan Myhre Hayes
Susan is passionate aobut each of us becoming out best self no matter what our challenges.  
In her engaging and blog, Best Self, she continues the conversation about self-transformation and intentional change begun in her book.