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The Five Whys

Who am I in this season of life and why? What do I need more of, and what do I want less of?


Seeing ourselves is going to be a continuous journey throughout our lives. No matter how many years we do the internal work of looking at ourselves, we’re ever-evolving, so we must keep seeing, knowing and hearing ourselves as we change throughout life.


This can look like identifying our emotions, listening to signals from our body, knowing our triggers, and giving ourselves rest when we need it. The more we see, hear and know ourselves, the more we’ll be able to recognize emotions, signals and triggers and process them in a healthy way. This can keep us from exhaustion, burnout, ruin in relationships, and going down a not so good path.


There’s a simple process that can be used to help yourself in the process of healing when you feel a block. Ask yourself “why” five times, and answer the question. I know, this may seem overly simplistic, but when you ask yourself why this many times, each time, it’s like peeling the layer of an onion, going deeper and deeper toward the core. The first one or two answers to your why’s may be more surface level. Let’s take a look at a simple example:



“I’m upset because I dropped my smoothie.”

Why?

“I’m so clumsy and I’m late and now it’s a mess.”

Why?

“My family gets mad at me when I drop things or trip over things.”

Why?

“I shame myself for being clumsy.”

Why?

“As a kid, I was clumsy and my parents used to get mad at me for it.”

Why?

“I don’t like this part of myself.”


Do you see how something as simple as a mistake on the surface can have a deeper root to a pattern that makes us feel small? I don’t think we were created to feel small. And by small, I don’t mean that we should walk around being prideful or arrogant or like we’re the most important person in the room. By small, I mean deflated, defeated, and full of shame. Living with these types of “blocks” can be debilitating. You can see how easily shame, and negative statements to ourselves can pour in, stacking on top of each other throughout the course of a day. If we’re not taking an account of the things we’re letting in, we can become buried before a day is over. Now imagine applying the power of compounding here, if these “blocks” are stacking on top of each other each day, for 365 days a year, how much shame are we throwing on ourselves throughout the course of a year?


It’s crushing.



The weight of this extra seemingly invisible layer of baggage we carry around feels so heavy. Carrying this regular stream of “blocks” in addition to trying to process the world and be present in all of our relationships is simply beyond our human capacity. We can’t possibly see, hear and know others if we can’t see ourselves because we have so many blocks (and we all do), that we can’t seem to muddle our way through the muck to get up to the surface for some air.


So how do we climb out? Isn’t it time we lifted it? Start with the five "whys." Uncover the real issue at the core of this internal weight so you can begin by addressing the right problem. From that point, you can ask yourself what you need to move forward— Forgiveness? Self-kindness? Resolution? While the path forward may vary, the hope at the center of the strategy of the five "whys" is consistent. If you do the hard work of climbing out of the muck, you'll be able to breathe easy and keep growing.


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