When asking "Why?" is a big mistake

question markIf you’ve found yourself asking “Why did I do that?” after you’ve done something you didn’t want to do, then this posting will be very useful to you.

It turns out that when you know when to ask “Why?” — and more importantly, when when you know not to ask “Why?” — you’ll be able to remove a real source of pain from your healing process.

Let me explain by telling you a story…

I often work with people who struggle with compulsive behaviors.

One woman I worked with, for instance, had a goal of becoming more fit and losing the extra pounds she had picked up.

She had intelligent rules about eating — no refined sugar, no eating after 8pm, and so on — and also had a commitment to work out five days a week.

But along the way to fulfilling her goal, she would occasionally backslide.

I spoke to her one morning after she had backslid the previous evening — with a plateful of chocolate chip cookies a friend had left at her house after a dinner party.

Perhaps you can relate — if not with food, then about some other area in your life where you’ve tried to make a change, but backslid on your commitment.

My client was upset about having eaten the cookies. Very upset. She’d done a lot of work on her health-improvement program, and the last things she needed was to be eating food that went against her goals.

To make matters worse, this wasn’t the first time she had backslid on her commitment. She would be fine for a while, moving toward her health goal, then find herself eating food she had committed herself to not eating.

Again, perhaps you can relate.

When I got on the phone with her that morning, her first question for me was:

“I want to know why I did this! Why do I keep backsliding? Why do I always end up eating the sweet stuff, no matter what I do?”

Essentially, she was asking, “Why?”

But “Why?” was exactly the wrong question for her to be asking in that moment.

In fact, asking “Why?” at that moment was actually destructive to her, because she was asking it at the wrong time.

To understand the truth of that, you have to understand a bit about who you are “being” when you are upset.

Who you are being when you are upset

Here’s an important fact:

The person you are “being” when you are upset is the wrong person to be making explanations for why you did what you did.

Let’s take a moment to look at who you are “being” when you are upset about backsliding on a commitment.

When you’ve backslid, you wanted to behave a certain way, and you did your best…
but you still ended up doing something you didn’t want to do.

And, in that moment, you are discouraged.

A good definition of “discouraged” is “believing that things are not going to get better, no matter what you do.”

When you are being a discouraged person — like my client was, after eating all those cookies — you are being a person who believes that no matter what you do, things aren’t going to get better for you.

So when you ask “Why?” when you are discouraged, you are asking exactly the wrong person — you are asking the “you” who believes that things aren’t ever going to get better.

And from the belief that “nothing will ever get better,” what kind of explanations do you come up with for “Why did I do this?”

I’ll give you a hint: You think of discouraging, depressing, and shaming explanations.

Try it out for yourself:

  • Imagine that you are standing in front of yourself, so you can see yourself from the outside.
  • Now specifically see yourself after you’ve done something that you had decided you wouldn’t do — perhaps overeating, or overspending, or “blowing your top” with your spouse or children, or whatever it is you are trying to not do.
  • Let yourself see how discouraged that person is.
  • And go deeper. Really let yourself see the world that person inhabits. See how it’s a world where things don’t get better, where suffering doesn’t have any meaning, and where trying doesn’t make any difference.
  • Now ask that person “Why did you do this?”

You’ll find that the answers are sourced out of that negative world. You’ll get answers like…

  • “I did this because I don’t have enough will power,” or
  • “I did this because I’m just a screw-up,” or
  • “I did this because I don’t try hard enough.”

Or you’ll get some long, technical explanation, complete with suggestions for improvement… But it will all be in the context of being a person for whom nothing will ever get better, so those approaches have very little chance of success.

These are the kinds of answers you’ll get from yourself when your heart is hurting and you are discouraged… And none of those answers will do you the slightest bit of good.

How we use “Why?” to avoid facing upset

Asking “Why?” when your heart is hurting just isn’t helpful. You are asking a discouraged person, and a discouraged person’s explanations, no matter how intelligent-sounding they may be, will always increase your suffering in the situation.

Before you ask “Why?”, you have to heal the heart that is hurting.

But that requires facing some facts you might not want to face.

Too often people run to explanations about “Why?” as a way of trying to avoid facing what actually happened, and how they feel about what actually happened.

Asking “Why?” can be an attempt to “end run” around facing your upset. The subconscious thinking is, If you can find an answer to “Why?”, maybe you can fix your upset, and not have to face your pain about it.

The only problem with that approach is it doesn’t work.

Healing the heart that is hurting

The first step of taking care of your heart is to face that you actually did something that you wish you hadn’t done, and to face the fact that your heart is hurting from that.

Now, I’m not saying you have to wallow in the pain of it. You don’t. And I’m most certainly not saying you should beat up on yourself about it.

But you do need to get to the “ouch” of it, rather than pursuing explanations about it.

Facing it means you get to the point of being able to say, “Wow, I did that. It hurts. I’m upset about it. Ouch. I’m probably not a person who should be constructing big explanations about ‘Why?’ ’til I’m healed of this pain.”

The next step is to take your discouraging belief that “this can never change,” and bring it to the Light. That may be the light of the Divine as you know it. It may be the light of your Inner Knowing, or your Deepest Heart. Whatever you call it, you need to take that belief that “this can never change” to a higher authority, and ask, “Is this really true?” Then you need to wait for and receive an answer.

You can do that by sitting quietly and turning internally to the Light, and saying something like, “I’m believing that I’m doomed to having this situation never change, and that I’ll never get out of it. As I turn to the Light, I’m asking… Is that really true? Or is there some other truth about this I can live from?”

You can also do that with the guidance of a coach, a therapist, or a support group.

The bottom line is, the pain of “This can never change” has to be healed before you start making up theories about why this behavior happened and what you should do about it.

As my client started brining her feeling of hopelessness to what she thought of as “the Great Spirit,” she began to see that there was love in the universe for that part of her that had backslid.

And as that hurting part of her began to open to the love, she saw that her ups and downs were part of a process that was taking her to where she wanted to go. She began to feel a renewed vigor for pursuing her health goals. She was able to release the pain of her past behavior and got “back on track.”

She also found that her need to ask “Why?” fell away. As she experienced herself being on a path toward health and healing, she realized that all she really needed to do was to keep feeling that sense of being on a path, and that she would be guided.

She also noticed that she most tended to “cheat” when there was surgary foods in her house, and she found herself with the motivation to make sure that situation didn’t happen in the future.

So — Why did you do that?

Once your heart is no longer discouraged, then it’s okay to go ahead and ask “Why?” if it seems like that will be helpful.


You may well find that the answer to “Why?” is not even necessary.

Once you are in a healed place with light in your heart, you may find — like my client — that your inner guidance is so improved that all you need to do is follow it.

In fact, you are likely to find that your inner guidance will keep you on the “straight and narrow,” far better than any “why-explanation” would.

What to “take away” from this posting

Here’s what I suggest you take away from this posting:

When you are upset, avoid asking “Why?” and face that your heart is hurting.

Get healing for that hurting before you look for an answer to “Why?”, and you’ll be able to take action and make changes much better that you would be able to if you asked “Why?” from a place of discouragement.

And here’s a PS — This works anytime you want to ask “Why?” when you are upset about anything — not just about your own behavior. “Why did he do that?” “Why did she leave me?”, etc. If your heart is hurting, that’s the place to look first.

About Dmitri


  1. Bless you and the stream of insights you offer!

  2. Indeed.

  3. Guthrie Sayen says:

    Dimitri, i love following your journey into deeper love. Blessings, Bro.

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