The Practice of Asking “Why?”

The working title of this post was The Practice of Letting It Go.

Then it started: Perhaps the title of this post should have been “The Practice of Giving Yourself Permission. I was looking at the human characteristic of doing things we really don’t want to because there’s some imaginary (and usually arbitrary) rule getting in the way.

Of course, by writing that, I was a pretty good example of that very phenomenon.

Which is why the article is not called “The Practice of Letting It Go.

Why Do We Keep the Things We Don’t Like?

When my partner and I embraced the Kon Mari style of organizing, we enjoyed the way it gives you a kind of “boot camp” for overcoming this phenomenon. By “forcing” us to choose to keep only the things that brought us a “spark of joy”, and eliminate everything else…we found that it became much easier to let go of other things as well.

Gone are the days of hoarding birthday cards: “It’s done its job – I had a happy one! Throw it away. We’re more likely to give away a good book to a friend, or a jacket to a relative, or anything, really, because it’s pretty clear to us that a) we have the things we need and b) we’re fortunate enough to have access to more things if that changes.

I’ve felt it expanding into time, as well. Not always – I’m not a Time Lord, yet – but I have had moments when I’ve noticed myself rushing to get something done, to accomplish some goal…and I’ve made the conscious effort to let go of the arbitrary schedule (or even some not-so-arbitrary-but-still-not-dire schedules) and just let the things that are happening fill the time, trusting that what needs to happen will happen.

It’s been great.

Spread the Joyous Word of “Why?”

Coming full circle was talking with a dear friend the other day, as we discussed her child’s bedroom furniture. “I really don’t like the dresser,” she said.

“So why do you keep it?” I already knew her kid didn’t need it for clothes. I don’t exactly remember her answer, but it had something to do with family duty and a feeling of obligation to the past…and so I asked again:

“Why do you keep it?”

She got a look on her face of relief – of even a giddy, naughty joy. It was as if I’d given her permission to get rid of this thing that she didn’t like, that she didn’t want in her house.

I didn’t, really. Permission isn’t mine to give. But I get that it’s hard to give yourself permission to get out from all the expectations, both real and imagined, that are put on us from so many sources. So I’m glad that simply asking Why? helped her past that.

It helps me, too, to remember to keep asking Why? of myself.

It gets easier. With practice.

Image courtesy of K.Prarin Lekuthai, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 License.

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