What To Do When You Are Stuck On “Why”

There is one little word in the English language (and equal words in other languages) that is quite powerful.
The word is “Why?”

The word can be powerful. It can launch a discovery that leads to insight and understanding.

  • Why does this work? – For example: Why does an object fall to the ground when we let go it it? We discover gravity.
  • Why does this not work? – E.g., why is my car not starting? The battery died. Ok. let’s get a new one.
  • Why is this the way it is? Help me understand. Maybe there is a helful action I can take.

The Other Side of the “Why” Coin

There is another side to the “why” coin. When something painful happened or is still happening we might ask

  • “Why me?”
  • “Why is this happening to me?”

There may not be a helpful answer.

For example, when a child gets abused by an adult there is no helpful answer. That adult may be a parent, the very person who is supposed to be the kid’s closest ally. When this type of abuse continues in foster care, the trauma is compounded.

The question “why” leads to no way out of trauma, depression, anger, and despair.

Yesterday at the Cross-Timbers Rotary Chrismas luncheon, I heard Jackie Davis talk about this difficult side of “why.” His LinkedIn profile summarizes some of what he shared with us about his childhood:

“He entered foster care at eighteen months old. His parents struggled with drugs and alcohol addiction. While in the care he rotated through several homes and shelters and experienced a failed adoption at the age of five. Over the next eight years, Jackie experienced abuse from a system that was supposed to protect him. Thankfully, he had a successful adoption at the age of thirteen.”

From Jackie Davis’ Linkin Profile

These sentences are a matter-of-fact summary of the trauma Jackie underwent. Fortunately, Jackie managed to emerge from this situation as a strong person who serves as an advocate for foster kids.

A Piece Of Advice That Caught My Attention

Here is a piece of advice that caught my attention:

“If get stuck on ‘why’ use optimism and creativity.”

Jackie Davis

That is great advice! He followed it, too, and it is having quite the positive ripple effect.

Jackie attend the University of North Texas (UNT) where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. At UNT, he served as President of Persevere Until Success Happens (PUSH). This worthy organization provides an educational support group for foster care alumni on campus. Jackie went on to earn a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas in Arlington. For the past 5+ years, he has served as a supervisor at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). CASA advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children, helping these children have safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.

There are times where the “why” question is very unhelpful. We can wallow in what happened to us. Of course, we have the “right” to do that but it doesn’t advance us in any way. On the contrary, it holds us back.

Antidotes For Getting Stuck On “Why”

It is easy enough to get stuck on “why.”. Creativity and optimism are great antidotes. You can’t change what happened and it is not your fault. Find our optimism and figure out creative ways to move forward. Well said, Jackie. And thank you for who you are and what you do!

I’m Curious

When have you been stuck on asking “why”?How did you get out of it?

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