When I was in graduate school to become a counselor, I was told by a very wise professor, “Never ask a client ‘why?’ They don’t know why they did something or why they feel the way they do – and ‘why?!’ just puts them on the defensive.” That made sense at the time. I could see that. And. “Why?” is at the very heart of being human. It leads us to meaning. Sometimes to understanding. It may put people on the defensive – and I’ll challenge you now to ask yourself why – no one else. Why do you feel the way you do? Why do you do what you do? Practice on the little things first. Become a 4 year old to yourself. “Why?”
There’s a great story about a young bride asking her mother how to cook a ham. One of the instructions is to cut off the ends of the ham first. “Why?” asked the bride. “I don’t know, darling, I’ve just always done it that way – like Grandma taught me.” Curious, they asked Grandma, “Why do you cut the ends off of the ham before you cook it, Grandma?” “I don’t know, I’ve always done it that way. Granny told me to.” On the next trip to the nursing home to visit Granny, they asked her, “Granny, why do you cut the ends off of the ham before you cook it?” “Well, my pan was too small,” came the answer, “and I did it to make the ham fit.” Ah! A new understanding! And a choice! You don’t HAVE to cut the ends off of your ham! What are you cutting the ends off of without knowing why?