One of my dear friends and teachers says to never ask why. I've thought about this quite a bit and come to this conclusion;
As children, asking why is central to our learning and growth. We ask why out of curiosity. Why is the sky blue? Why do trees lose their leaves? Why do people have eyebrows? Why does Mom make me take cod liver oil in winter?
As adults, however, I have noticed our whys stem not from curiosity but from victimhood. Why didn't I get the job? Why don't I have more money? Why did my partner leave? Why did I get sick? Why can't I succeed?
Those questions do seem exhausting and lead towards fault-finding.
I have been practicing asking better questions. In fact, it is a major theme of this year for me. When a why question pops up I rephrase it into a better one.
Why is my back acting up today? becomes How can I relieve this discomfort? or What does my body need today? Why is there not enough time for everything I want to do? becomes How can I find the time I need for... Why is my friend so unhappy? becomes What can I do to support my friend? Why can't I get my head around this project? becomes Who can help me put this together?
Unless my inner child pipes up with a juicy why question stemming from pure, curious thirst, I shift my questions into How, What can I do, Where can I, Who can help me with...
This line of questioning takes me from fault-finding, which gets me nowhere, to finding solutions and empowered practices that lead me where I want to go.
Inner child or inner victim? Where are your questions coming from? How can you start asking better questions of yourself? Put yourself back in the driver's seat. It is what it is, now what can you do about it? Don't strain over achieving an answer, simply set out to ask a better question. Give the answer room to breathe. It may present itself in surprising ways.
The answer may not always be a doing but a being. Sometimes, simple awareness of your why question, your fault-finding victim question, and an intention to rephrase it - reposition your stand on it, re-empower yourself about it - releases the why me and clears the way for new perspectives and possibilities.
Is there something you want? Stop asking why you don't have it and start asking how you can cultivate it.
Now, how can you share this information with others so they, too, can start asking better questions?
I've heard repeatedly (and likely even said myself) that what you do naturally, effortlessly, is your gift. Perhaps. What if many of us left these natural gifts behind in childhood, never cultivated and long-forgotten.
In which case, revisited 30 years later, a gift may come quite unnaturally. But if something pulls at you, repeatedly, relentlessly, even though you feel little proficiency or ability in that area, do not discount it as a gift because it is not effortless.
Often we need to hone our crafts, practice and master our gifts. If this didn't happen in childhood it's not too late to start a practice now.
Try these 2 exercises to assist with exploring potential gifts:
Revisit what you enjoyed as a child.
What did you spend hours on end doing and what seemed easy and fun? Make a list, brainsketch it. Start with one and see where it takes you. How much can you remember of your childhood interests?
Then look for cycles in your adult years. Any repeating themes? Activities you return to yet abandon because you feel you aren't good enough at them or can't see a practical use for them? Themes in the type of books you read, articles you Google. Perhaps there's a latent gift that is ripe for developing into a delicious craft. Maybe the timing and conditions needed to be right, proper seasoning and maturity didn't exist before that exists now.
Remember Rumi's words, "What you seek is seeking you." If something is pulling at you, luring you towards it, don't let lack of confidence or proficiency stop you. Take time to still yourself and your thoughts each day to listen for what seeks you, to allow it to find you. Once united, commit to exploring it further, deepening your relationship with it.
As Michelangelo has been quoted, "If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all." Not all gifts come easy and often the insights are in the labour.
Say YES to what is calling you and commit time every day, a diligent practice, towards honing it. 6 months from now...2 years... what you will have learned, about your craft and about yourself, may nourish you in ways you never imagined. 10 years...15...what can you master in this lifetime?
Once you say yes to what is calling you, often all the support needed falls into place, not always at once, more like a string of mala beads, guiding you one by one to the guru bead...to go around again if you choose, limitless. How many gifts can you discover and what will they reveal as you explore and deepen them?