“Because because. That’s why.”
When we were little, we asked “why” to understand how the world around us works. We did it to learn. I propose, to learn about your inner world, you ask yourself, “why” the same way you did when you were a little kid.
I feel like we don’t ask ourselves, “why?” enough. But I think we answer this question even less. “Why am I doing this?” “Why did I do that?” This may be the simplest way to create self-awareness. I believe not having this internal investigation, of asking and answering this simple question, is why many of us feel lost in lives of circular drama. We never stop long enough to look into the mirror and examine, “Why?”
Why did I send that text?
Why did I sleep with him/her?
Why did I post that?
Why am I doing this?
We need to be the investigative Sherlock Holmes in our own mind…or maybe the four year old Sherlock, just to keep the analogy going.
“Why” is a simplified way of asking, “what is my intention?” “Why am I doing this?” = “What is my intention doing this?” Same same. Asking yourself “why?” forces you to take responsibility for your actions. Taking responsibility empowers you to make changes.
Intention is a common English word. Probably best known for it’s iconic role in the classic, “what are your intentions with my daughter?” *cocks rifle and spits chewing tobacco* Your intention is equivalent to your meaning or your purpose.
Asking yourself “why?” and/or “what is my intention?” and answering honestly may be the most simple and impactful method to greater self-awareness. How can you really know yourself if you don’t understand your own intentions? How can you own your decisions if you don’t know why you’re doing it? Therefore, how can you make decisions that are good for you if 1) you don’t really know yourself and 2) don’t know why you make certain decisions?
These can be scary questions for some because examining our own intentions can reveal layers to our actions. For example, recently I had a session with a man who constantly went out of his way for other people. He was really feeling drained from giving out so much energy but he kept doing it. During the conversation, I said, “check your intentions when do you these things.” He asked for clarification (which made me realize many people do not monitor their own intentions) and the answer came through me as, “when you go out of your way to help these people in your life, are you doing it out of the goodness of your heart without expectation? Or are you doing it to make them need you, to feel needed, and to be seen as this great guy that does so much?” His face flashed with recognition and his body language shifted. That resonated with him because his intentions were to be needed and seen as a selfless person.
That said, it’s entirely possible to do things with pure intent but human emotions can be layered and complex and there can be more than one goal in any action or decision. While, the man in the example did have love for these people, his ego’s need for validation was a large part of his motivation.
I want to write a whole post or possibly a series on online dating but, for now, another great example is people’s intentions with online dating. In the last couple months, I’ve watched at least 5 men and women in my immediate world use Tinder/Tinder equivalent after a break up or after feeling rejected by a love interest. They’re looking for validation from their desired sex to feel worthy. Part of them genuinely may want to find their “forever person” but the intention this action sets comes from a place of ego and a need to feel they are desirable. Not out of a desire for genuine love and connection, even if that desire is somewhere in the background. They may say things like, “I want to get back out there,” but are they really ready if they’re still acting with this intention? Are they healthy and healed enough to have a positive relationship or do they just need an ego boost after being hurt?
As you start to ask yourself “why” in your own decision making, do not feel guilty if you find your intentions less pure than you would like them to be. It’s not something to feel guilty if you didn’t have the awareness before this. We’re human. Most people have never been exposed to these kinds of thought process and subsequent tools to make shifts. You cannot be beat yourself up for the things you didn’t know before. Once you have the awareness, acting on ego-based intentions is a choice and that’s your responsibility.
I recommend using the four year old Sherlock Holmes tactic and start asking yourself “why?” This can be extremely helpful with habits, patterns, or relationships you’d like to shift away from.
So go on and “why” it out!
(…and you’re welcome for the dad-joke finish)