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It’s the one question we learned in childhood that often drove our parents or primary caregivers up the wall. Even as adults, our various flavors of “why?” can still drive others nuts – at work, at home, at play and in relationship. And, many of us continue to ask “Why?” consistently – not satisfied with “standard” responses or “conventional” wisdom.


Often, when we asked “Why?” as children, the responses we got didn’t satisfy us or make sense. In addition, when we heard something like, “I don’t know,” “That’s a dumb question,” “Because that’s just the way it is,” or “It’s a mystery,” and the like, we learned to stop asking. Unfortunately, many of us lost our curiosity and our inquisitiveness.

In reality, we did not really lose this aspect of ourself, we repressed it, stuffed it down. But, deep down, many of us still have a burning desire to know “why.”  For example, this is why, consciously or unconsciously, so many of us long to know the meaning of life. The ultimate “why?”.

The search for meaning

The search for meaning is basically a search for significance – significance of what is not obvious. When we find answers, sometimes they are objective – questions about day-to-day life, details, facts, and so on. (Think: “Why is the sky blue?”)

On a meta level, however, “Why?” is about life itself and its attendant puzzles, challenges and conundrums – e.g., questions about pain and suffering, striving and struggling, death and separation, etc. In the final analysis, the “Why?” is really about “me” – Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the meaning of my life’s experience? These deeper questions cannot be answered with objective facts or details. When we grow our soul and move to higher or deeper levels of consciousness, we move towards what we know as “enlightenment” – higher or deeper levels of knowing and understanding that really aren’t “knowledge” as we would define it in a Western way.

So, what’s the point?

Finding meaning and gaining “higher” understanding is not about escaping from, detouring around or eliminating life’s challenges. Suffering will still exist, for example, but we don’t have to have “pain” (emotional, psychological and/or spiritual) around it. We can choose to move beyond feeling like a victim, for example. Death will still remain an inevitability, but we can choose to approach it from a place of inner peace and equanimity, not abject fear, denial or resistance. Understanding the deeper meaning of a painful relationship, for example, can move us to a place where we can love once more.

We all have this deep inner longing to know “why.” Sometimes we do repress it, or stay in denial, or resist it (like, metaphorically, when we were children we might place our hands over our ears and shout so we didn’t have to listen to unpleasant “noise,” shouting or to what was being said). However, resisting our deep inner urge to know “why” is a futile attempt to live life from an ego-driven, not heart- or soul-driven, place.

And, for those of you who are still placing your hands over your ears, what would it feel like if you gave yourself permission to ask “Why?”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • If you played back the tape of your day today, or yesterday, what might you see about your motives, the “why,” for your actions and behaviors?
  • Identify a recent emotional experience and explore the deeper meaning behind it. Why do you think that experience happened FOR (not TO) you?
  • Take some quiet time and ask yourself, “What questions about my self and my life am I avoiding?” Why do you think you’re resisting asking yourself these questions?
  • Why do you think you’re on the planet?
  • How did your parents/primary caregivers, friends, relatives and teachers respond when you asked “Why?” How did that make you feel?
  • Were you curious as a child? Are you now?
  • What are your curious about these days? Why?

(c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com


You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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