A few months ago I wrote about “What if…”, some of the intrusive thoughts that cause us to worry about all sorts of future scenarios. As I thought about how I wanted to wrap up the year, “why’s” came to mind. These are another sort of cognitive distortion. They sound like:
“He just stopped talking to me out of nowhere. Why?”
“Why does this always happen to me?”
“I just need to know why they did that, then I can let it go.”
Talking about “why’s” in therapy can be helpful to a certain extent. However, there comes a point when it just becomes rehashing and unproductive. In order to have meaningful progress it is necessary to practice radical acceptance that “it is what it is,” and figure out how you are going to cope with it and move forward. It hurts to feel different, ostracized, and/or rejected. You may believe that understanding why these things have happened will bring you a sense of closure. This is not necessarily true, and links your emotional well-being to an external source. Practice some of the following reframes to cope with lingering “why’s”:
- Acknowledge the feelings behind the why. “I feel sad that they do not talk to me anymore.”
- Do not take it personally. Remind yourself that the world does not revolve around you, and there are lots of variables that you may not be aware of at play.
- If you have done something that goes against your moral code do your best to make amends, and then accept the outcome (and do not beat yourself up).
As you become more aware of how “why’s” are impacting your life, shift your focus from replaying what you did and what you should do to the here and now. Recognize the opportunity you have in each present moment to create a life that aligns with your values and fosters a sense of satisfaction