The Wrong Question Is Why, The Right Question Is What

the wrong question is why


Here’s something I learned the hard way. I’m passing it along so (hopefully) you can learn it the easy way.

The wrong question is why:

  • Why did that have to happen?
  • Why me?
  • Why now?
  • Why [fill in the blank]?

Fixating on why keeps you stuck, waiting for an answer. And even if you get an answer, it won’t necessarily make anything better at all. And all that time you’re waiting to understand why is all that time that you’re not moving forward in your life. Why closes you off & blocks good things from coming into your life. I know this from personal experience. It doesn’t matter why some awful thing happened (unless it helps make it not happen again) or why you didn’t get what you wanted. What matters is . . .


  • What do I do now to move past this?
  • What can I do to fix it?
  • What can I learn from this so I can move on?
  • What can I do better next time?

What opens you up to new possibilities, new answers, new directions. Asking what gets you moving, and action, IMO, is the only way to get unstuck.

Life happens to all of us

Next time it happens to you and throws you a curveball you didn’t see coming, ask what instead of why. It’s a practice & I’m still learning. I’ve had to remind myself to ask what instead of why over and over and over again. But I’ve been amazed at how quickly I’ve been able to move myself past what happened and forward into a much, much better place.

Have you started your Life List yet?




8 thoughts on “The Wrong Question Is Why, The Right Question Is What”

  1. Hey, Shelli! 🙂 Good word! Thanks for the gentle reminder, or was it a not-so-gentle kick in the pants? *laughs* That’s ok. Sometimes what we need is for a real friend to give us a sigh and a shove to get over it and get moving. Right?
    I hope life is treating you well and taking care of you these days. Have a great weekend. *raises second cup of coffee for the day in your honor* Cheers!


    1. Hey Jimmy!

      Well, however you wanna take it (reminder or kick~lol). I know, I’ve had to have people close to me give me a shove. It’s easier when it’s coming from somebody you like. 🙂 Life is excellent, thanks. Hope it is for you, too. Awww, you’re awesome with the coffee. *raises my cup back* Cheers, my friend. Have a great weekend.

  2. Some good advice, Shelli, but your experience is very different from mine. Simply trying to move on without understanding why things were the way they were left me unable to actually move on at all. I asked exactly what you suggest – what do I do now to move past this? I thought “let go of the past” and so I did, thinking that since time heals all wounds I could just pretend everything was okay and fake my way forward long enough and I’d eventually come out of the darkness. I was very wrong.

    You are absolutely correct when you say “action is the only way to get unstuck.” For me the action, the real “what can I do to move forward” was to confront the past and instead of moaning about why did this happen to me I set out to truly answer the question. That has led me on a journey of discovery that has surprised me, angered me, saddened me and pushed me through every emotion there is (to the extreme) but ultimately has left me with the knowledge I need to begin to heal.

    The only lingering question now is do I really want to share my story with the world? What’s to be gained, what’s at stake, and is it worth the risk? Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell keep going.” Why would I go through it again?

    1. Hi Richard!

      I’m so sorry you went thought a rough time. You know, I’m really not a big believer in “time heals all wounds” because I really don’t think it does, not all by itself. I think there needs to be work on our parts. I’m not a believer in “fake it until you make it” either for the same reason.

      You did the work for yourself & I’m so happy that you did and that you’ve begun to heal. You know, the share the story part is so personal and you should absolutely make a decision about that based on what feels right to you. If you share something you feel uncomfortable sharing, you’ll most likely end up doing more damage to yourself. I went through a deep exhaustion a little over a year ago. I wrote around it (how I got out of it, what I learned from it, things I read that were helpful to me) because I thought it would help others & it really has. Some of those posts continue to get a lot of traffic even today because a lot of people struggle with just being completely burned-out. But I haven’t written about what it was actually, truly like to be in it, what triggered it, and that kind of thing because it’s very personal & that felt somehow like putting myself on display and/or throwing myself under a bus when I was still trying to heal. What I can tell you is that you should write about it definitely. Even if you never let “the public” read it, you should still write about it because you’ll gain a lot of insight into yourself (maybe surprising things you didn’t know) and it’ll help you let go. At least, that’s what writing about events has done for me. Then, after you’re done, you can choose to publish it or not.

      I love Churchill. Keep going! He also said this: ““Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never ~ in nothing great or small, large or petty ~ never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” I have that quote up in my writing room so that I don’t quit. 🙂

      *big hug* <==just for you.

      1. I may take the scenic route but I will never give in!

        A big part of the problem for me was having all my assumptions and even my crystal-clear recollections blow up in my face. I was so sure I knew the how, what, why, and when at the beginning of my journey, but as I dug deeper I discovered things were not always the way I remembered. I kept digging until I discovered that the catalyst wasn’t stuck in the past but was still with me (family member). That was devastating. That also changed the “point” of my book. I thought my memoir would follow the typical pattern – everything is fine, some life-changing event happens that screws everything up, I overcome the event and live happily ever after – so to speak. Now I think the point is about taking steps in the right direction, that perception is a powerful enemy, and that no matter how much you love someone there is a point where self-sacrifice and compassion ends up ruining two lives instead of one. That’s the really hard part – letting go.

        Your book resonated with me. Different circumstances, perhaps, but some of the imagery struck a familiar chord not directly but deeper down. Where I’m at now is not so much to tell the story or not; I think it needs to be told but also needs to come out the right way. For instance there is a scene where my father punched my brother during a family row. I wrote it just as it happened in rather matter of fact terms. I put that out (along with the circumstances) to get feedback and was told my father was a monster. That is not why I included that scene and I sure as heck don’t want people to come away with a false perception. I want it to be right, but it’s taken a toll just to get even remotely close.

        So I’ve been working on other projects while I recharge my batteries. I think I’m about ready to jump back in and keep pushing. BTW, big hug much appreciated! 😉

        1. Hi Richard!

          That made me laugh: take the scenic route. Yeah, I’ve taken the scenic route too, sometimes. 😀

          I’m glad to hear you’re taking steps in the right direction. The best memoirs, IMO, are the ones that don’t flinch, that brutal as they might be, we as readers can see ourselves in them. I think a lot of people, myself included, have been in a position with someone they love who is not good for them, and you put it so beautifully: “there is a point where self-sacrifice and compassion ends up ruining two lives instead of one.” This is true. It’s taken me a lot of years to realize it. And you’re right, the hardest part really is the letting go.

          I will tell you, too, that some readers are just going to think he’s a monster no matter what you write. I noticed that with my book. I did my best to show all the characters compassion as I wrote them & then I had to let them go. Some people think the father is a monster; sometimes it’s the mother. None of them are monsters. They are just people put in a tough situation & not able to cope.

          You are welcome for the hug. Here’s a smile. 🙂

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