As toddlers we learned by asking why. Anyone with a small child knows that this can be an interesting time. There are many, many questions that are asked that we do not know the answer to. There are even some that perhaps have no answer. Still others, we haven’t ever given any thought to before. By the time we are 7 or 8, the number of why questions we ask has diminished dramatically. I am here to ask. Why?
Why did we stop asking? Why did we stop seeking to understand, probe, look deeper under the hood, under the surface? Why? I ask you now. Was it because the answers “should” have been obvious? Was it because we were told “because” one too many times? Was it because it seemed right to simply go along, rather than questioning what we didn’t understand? Was it because we went to school and we were taught to form a straight line, sit in our chairs, stop talking, stop asking so many questions and simply learn (accept) what we are telling you? Did we want that gold star, that citizenship award or the all-important good grade so much that we would do anything to get it?
Not too long ago, I would sigh heavily and roll my eyes if someone said there are no dumb questions. I was so heavily entrenched in thinking that there were mostly stupid questions. Hurry up. Stop asking questions. It is so clear, they just told us. Uh, listen next time. Oh, people…people! Don’t prolong this misery by making them repeat what we just covered. Don’t care – I don’t, beyond what is “on the test.” Those were my thoughts and sometimes even my words.
Little did I know then that it is all on the test. And that was mine.
Last night, I had a great conversation with a lovely, wonderful, smart and intuitive woman. She was relaying a story to me of some frustration she had with a seat mate on her flight earlier in the day. She was telling me the things that happened that led to the frustration. I listened. I heard her. And then I asked her why the particular thing had bothered her. At first, it was as if I hadn’t heard her so she repeated it, expecting me to agree that indeed that is irksome behavior on a plane. I didn’t agree or disagree, I simply asked her why. She was ready and willing to explore.
That one small question, turning the outward experience inward (where it all happens anyway), helped her to start processing a much larger and more important issue in her life and work in a brand new way. The insight gained from simply asking why of yourself can open doors that have been locked for far too long. It may seem scary at first, but it is the path to freedom and you were built to handle it.