Why not Why?
Hello NLP Friends!
If you have seen me on stage chances are that you have heard me say: “Stay away from asking Why!”
Some people have learned a great deal by asking Why. And here and there people recommend that you ask Why. That you start with asking Why, that you ask Why again and again, and that Why is the best and most important question there is.
So let us clear up the confusion here.
Let us start by being specific about the context. When I say “Stay Away From Why” I am talking about asking questions about people’s limits or things they want to change.
Most of the time when people want to know Why they want to understand a Cause Effect relationship or find a Root Cause. Sometimes they think that if they have an intellectual understanding of what caused someone’s problem it will magically disappear.
But not only is cause effect a horrendous model for how humans function – you do have free will and free choice! It is also a straight road into justification and perpetuation of problems!
Just try it – but be careful – select some very minor limitation you have, and start thinking of what caused you to have that limitation!
Notice how easy it is to convince yourself that your limitation has an external cause. What it really is, is of course, an unwise response to external events.
And one other thing: information of this kind is NOT emotionally neutral. Most of the time people will end up feeling bad and resourceless once they start exploring what “caused” their limitations.
– But, but, Freud said.
– Yes – and sometimes he is right, but he is dead.
Sometimes people have a different and more fruitful intention for asking “Why”. They want to know what intention a behaviour serves. The problem with this approach is that more often than not the person being asked will assume that “Why” is a request for a long story about their personal history and their current interpretation of it … which interesting as it may be to people with enough time on their hands … is not helpful to change.
So – what’s the alternative?
Well, if your intention is to find the intention – why not ask for it straightforward: What is the intention behind your limitation?
Or, to give you some alternatives: What is good about your limitation? How has your limitation served you in the past? What would you lose if you lost your limitation? What would you have to sacrifice if you gave up your limitation? And how else can you satisfy the intention behind your limitation?
So, stay away from “why” whenever you can… Because every “why” has its ‘because”, and when we know “because”, the curiosity dwindles, and the inner spark is put out.
Sending you oceans of love,
Lidija and Thomas
P.S. And if you’d like to learn proven strategies that can help you take your game to a whole new level, and move away from the shackles of “why”, join us in Brussels from mid June to mid July and the U.S. from mid July to mid August for our unique and transformational trainings! More info at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our website about NLP in Brussels