Imagine for a moment that you are in the middle of the ocean in a small rowboat. (I have no idea why you would be in the ocean in a little ass boat, but go with me for a minute here) So there you are, chilling in your boat. Suddenly, water starts pouring in from the bottom of the boat. You grab the only thing on hand, an empty beer can, and begin scooping out water as fast as you can. But as fast as you go, the water keeps coming in faster. You grab another empty can. You are two-handed emptying out the water as fast as possible, but it keeps pouring in, and now the hole in the bottom of the boat is getting larger! You begin to panic. You are going to drown. You furiously fill and empty those beer cans as fast as your arms can go, your insane panic causing you to frantically spill half of each can back into the boat you are trying so hard to empty….
That is what you are doing when you try correcting an issue without first analyzing your why.
Analyzing your why?… But isn’t that the same thing as evaluating your because? Pretty much, yeah. It just takes it a little deeper.
In the last post, we came to the realization, or reminder, that virtually everything within your day is your choice. You get a say in it. Isn’t that great?! We noticed that, for the majority of things, we can narrow it down to “…because I chose to.”
You probably thought to yourself, but it goes a little deeper than just because I chose to, and you are 100% correct. It does go further than that. At some point, you gotta wonder, why am I choosing this?
That’s where analyzing your why comes in.
There is a reason you are choosing what you chose. The root cause. The first thought, behind all the other thoughts. Your real why. You are choosing to do or not do something because, on some level, you are being “rewarded” by the choice that you make.
Let’s use the whole smoking cigarettes thing as an example. Since this is a big one for me currently.
You see, I know that I should choose to stop smoking. I know that it is already affecting my health and will only continue to more progressively affect my health. I know that cigarettes literally do nothing for me other than to harm me. Yet, I continue to smoke.
Why? Oh, I could probably come up with a handful of decent sounding excuses… but that’s all that they truly are. Excuses. And that is what the majority of “reasons” come down to. They are just well-disguised excuses.
To truly change, you have to identify your “excuses” and discover your real reasons. Because once you have your real reasons on the table, you can make a true decision whether to continue or discontinue whatever the behavior is that you are analyzing.
So, why do I really smoke?
Well, let’s see… A tinge of it is addiction. That’s pretty much a given. Nicotine is one of the most addictive chemicals there is. One hit of nicotine to the brain and it activates receptors that start nagging the little beast inside your head to beg for another hit. But, it is also one of the easiest drugs to withdraw from. Nothing detrimental is actually going to happen to you as your body withdraws. So… excuse? Probably..
Smoking gives me a break… Well, this is true. When I need a break from house cleaning, kids going ape shit, work, a disagreement with my husband.. I smoke. Since we smoke outside, it almost always removes me from the situation, forces me to take deep, calming breaths, and makes it pretty hard to do anything but sit and chill for about five minutes. Could I get all of these same “rewards” another way? Probably could. So… excuse? Yeah, it’s highly likely.
Honestly, for the sake of time, I am going to save you some reading. There is no good reason to smoke. You know this. I know this. Maybe a bad thing to chose as an example… Why do I do it? Because a tiny part of me still holds onto the teenage thought that “it’s cool”. Because I’m scared that it will be hard to quit. Because I’m worried that “I’ll be missing out on something.” (I can almost hear every non-smoker saying “yeah, dumbass, you’ll be missing out on lung cancer and COPD”) The point is, there is no good reason for this action, only well formed excuses. Once I acknowledge that all there is, is excuses… it leaves little ground for continuing the behavior. (Maybe it wasn’t such a bad example after all)
That’s what analyzing your why’s is really all about. Looking at why you do, say, think, feel the way you do. Separating excuses from reasons, and making changes where changes need to be made. You can’t solve a problem without knowing what the problem is. Analyzing your why’s simply allows you to get a look at the real problem.
Remember our example from last week about saying hurtful things because someone made you angry? So, what are your options? Stop the other person from behaving in a way that angers you? Seeing as we have zero control over others, only ourselves, this option is not likely going to work out for ya. Stop saying the angry words? Oh, the joys of biting your tongue. I’ll tell ya from experience, that’s about as successful as emptying out that boat with two empty beer cans. You’re just delaying the inevitable…. So, why not just plug up the hole and stop the water from pouring in?
When you snapped at that person in anger did it help you accomplish what you intended? Did it bring you closer or further from the life you want and the person you want to be? Then why continue that behavior? Why continue emptying the boat with beer cans when there is a much easier solution? Feel the emotion, and then let it go. Find a more successful way to empty out that anger. Just as the smoker can choose an alternative way of getting a “break”, the angry person can choose an alternative way to release their anger.
You discover the easiest and most successful ways to solve your problem by analyzing your why’s. By acknowledging what the real problem is. And by finding alternative or healthier ways of solving that problem that WILL work to create a better life for yourself.
Will you have overnight success? Oh, probably not… But each wise choice, each healthy choice, will ripple effect throughout your life. It will lead to more wise choices, more healthier choices… and before you know it, you’ll change that behavior, action, thought, or emotion that you once thought you had so little control of.
When we are honest about our reasons, we can more clearly see if they are valid reasons or well-disguised excuses. We can see where the true problem is. The real things we need to focus on to create true change within ourselves.
Just plug the hole… beer’s bad for ya anyhow.
Come on back next week to see how we Put It All Together.