Why "Why" Doesn't Work

The point of power is the question, not the answer.

Maybe one of the most important things I learned in my years in university was about being really conscious what kind of questions I asked.

In every academic research, the question shapes the answer. It shapes actually everything that follows behind: The setting, the methods, the people and instruments involved. It even defines the answers in advance as it dictates in what area probable answers might be found. It is like a torch, illuminating a special corner of the world while ignoring others.

Always eager to get answers, and of course the "right ones", it took me a while to realize:

If I want to change the world – ok, if I want to change my world – I better pay attention to the questions I ask.

When I now look at my life so far, I realize how the basic questions changed over the years: from Why to How to What.

The Problem With Why

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by humans and their behavior. How they perceive, think, feel, and act the way they do. How they are really similar in some aspects and so totally individual in others.

I also realized that humans seemed to be extraordinary experts in being stressed and unhappy. Including myself of course. Which brought me to the first question:

Why do we do all this stuff we do in our life?

That might be an interesting question. It can lead into many years of study. In my case, it did. First, it filled hours and hours of philosophical girlfriend talk, then it brought me to a diploma in psychology.

The only problem is:

​This Why question doesn't help. At least not for the situation at hand.

When I crash my car in the trench and am stuck in mud it doesn't make any sense to ask myself "Why?". If I do, I might get some nice theories about my car's behavior and maybe even about mine, too, while we are still sitting in the mud besides the road.

How relieved I felt, when during my studies I discovered solution-focused approaches! My question changed from Why to something like this:

If my car and I are sitting besides the road, and we don't like it,

how do we get out?

Getting Out Of The Mud

In the following years I learned A LOT about all different kinds of muds (fear, shame, trauma, stress etc.) and different ways for different people to get out of them.

All the way down, I was my most important guinea pig: every time I discovered something that REALLY made a big difference in my life, I learned the method behind to give it back to the people I worked with, often to the grade that I could even teach others to do the same.

That's why I have been trained in so different approaches like the 3d Pädragogik by Peter Metzger, the Lefkoe Method by Morty Lefkoe, and became a CR Master Practitioner by Terry Earthward Nichols.

And that's why I have constantly been training myself in all kind of different approaches, like the Solution Focused Psychology by Steven De Shazer, The Work by Byron Katie and many more.

What does really help? For me, the criteria for real help was simple:

If it made a significant difference, then it really helped.

After a while I realized that adding the questions "For Whom?" and "When?" would make the thing much more effective. No medicine is for everyone.

And Now?

After some years of personal and professional getting-out-of-the-mud work, I realized that this approach got me out of trauma, stress and fear but no further. So new kind of questions came up, condensed in the simple form of "What do I really want?"

Once me and my car are getting back on the road, are we actually on the right one?

And, at the bottom of my soul, do I really want to drive?

Something else might be possible for me. Flying maybe?

The Biggest Question Of All

For a long time in my life I had real trouble answering these questions. I hadn't understood that "knowing what you want" can be a process, discovered and explored by many tiny steps, instead of being a solid all-adressing answer just sitting inside of me.

I had always admired these people who already knew at the age of 5 what they wanted to become once they were gown up. I always thought I had to be one of them. Which I actually wasn't.

So when I started experiencing the freedom as a consequence of getting out of my mud I realized that this question of "What do I really want?" put some heavy weight on my shoulders. I hadn't found an answer yet and I wasn't sure where to search for it.

Today I know that this question is just the beginning of an ongoing process of "What do I really want?"- and even more "Uhhh, that's what I don't want at all"-discoveries.

So when I started enjoying my own freedom, I found an in between question instead: What is it that I have always wanted to do?

That's when I started traveling in February 2015, combining working over Skype with exploring foreign countries.

Which then, finally, brought me to the biggest question of all:

What is my real purpose?

This question truly bothered me a lot. For the most of the time of my life I felt something like a calling, although for me it seemed the Universe had forgotten to deliver the "What For" as well.

Which isn't true of course. I just didn't allow myself to hear it.

The Answer I Have Found

I am pretty sure that we Humans sometimes tend to overcomplicate life. After some struggling around my purpose for some time, a big AHA hit me.

I am a living being. So my purpose of life is living. That's it.

Which also means: Every time I am doing something that makes me feel alive, I follow my purpose. Which, if I follow my own argumentation here, is more like a path to walk on than a thing to find. Which also means:

Every time I don't feel alive anymore I have lost my purpose and my path.

It Is NOT About Happiness

For me the distinction between "alive" and "happy" is crucial. I don't think my purpose of life is to be happy, although happiness is an important factor. But it cuts my human being down to only a certain area of experiences.

I had some profound experiences during my last year where I wasn't happy at all: In some I was crying and grieving, in some even screaming and shouting, kicking pillows around my room.

And still, on a certain level, I was very fine. Because I knew and I could FEEL that I was ALIVE. And when I allowed myself to feel ALL these feelings, I even became MORE ALIVE.

I was connected to my inner being, and expressing whatever she wanted to express, feeling what was important to feel – the whole range of human experiences. I WAS alive. I AM alive.

The work I am doing is not about happiness, either. Or at least, not always. Yes, I often experience a lot of happiness when I sing. And there is a lot of other stuff that I experience, too. My life around singing has been much like a roller-coaster adventure than a happy pony ride, with lots of impressive ups and downs along the way.

​ It wasn't always funny and I wasn't always happy. It was rough. It still is sometimes. It shook me upside down. It still does sometimes.

And yet, I wouldn't change anything. Because it was perfect exactly the way it was.

It was just so much more than happiness.

The Question I Want To Live By

My purpose of life is living. It is being alive, feeling alive, whatever that means for me in the particular moment. It can mean to allow all these inner experiences I as a human being am capable of, without suppressing them.

It can mean deciding to write this blog post, because being creative and productive makes me feel alive right away.

It can mean so many different things for different people. No need to compare my sources of aliveness with the one of someone else. My feeling of being alive is proof enough.

The question I want to live by:


And in case I feel like I have lost my path again:

​What can I do, right now, to feel alive again?

Simone Wiedenhöft
About The Author

Simone Wiedenhöft is a bridge between the worlds. She was an academic psychologist once, turned into a Shaman then. Now she is breathing union of both, living the often beautiful and sometimes challenging dance of intuition and intellect in everyday life. She loves to experience life from a place of freedom, love and joy, and she loves to empower and encourage others to do the same – in her working, in her speaking, in her wholehearted being.

She lives in Germany at the moment. Her heart belongs to the world.