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Why "Why"?


Why Why?


What? When? Where? and Why? are key questions that help us understand the ourselves and the world around us. But of all these,  I think Why? is most important. Why? does much more than pose a question. If you really understand the significance of the word why, it can change your whole mental perspective. Why actually makes meaning. Why has purpose; it defines purpose. It clarifies intent and stimulates creative insight. As a question, why? wedges itself in the doorway between conscious and subconscious thought, holding the passageway to our creative centers open just a bit longer, allowing the process of association-making to occur over a greater time span and distance. And making associations encourages novel ideas.

Why is hard-wired into our brains. I recall the enormous amount of energy I expended answering the why questions of my two “gifted” children when they were young. But I felt that it was important to answer them, even the ones that were “unanswerable,” because I intuitively felt there was a reason for this constant questioning. I worried that if I did not answer their questions, I might somehow stifle my children’s creativity. Nowadays, I would not be so concerned. I’ve come to believe that there are many factors that contribute to creativity, and that a few unanswered questions would not have hampered my children’s budding genius.

 Still, my maternal instinct was right on one account. Research validates the importance of early stimulation–mental, physical and emotional. We know that there are innate learning milestones–opportunities where certain experiences can trigger expanded growth in a child’s brain. Around two years of age, a child tends to break away somewhat from their previous tight bond with their primary caregiver (often Mom). This sudden interest in the outer world, and an interest in exploring it, causes both excitement and fear for the child, as they face their first real sense of inner conflict and express it through their behavior. Hence the term used to identify this time in a child’s life is often “the terrible twos.”  As difficult as this period may be for parents, it is a time of great importance for the child. It provides the child with their first opportunity to establish independence, and the way they handle this opportunity establishes a mental pattern, or blueprint, that will follow them into adulthood. It is also the child’s first opportunity to learn the skills of focusing their attention on the outer environment for a sustained period, and moving their attention between the outer  (“real” world) and their inner, subjective mental environment. There is some speculation that if a child does not successfully reach this milestone of flexibility of attention, they will have difficulty adjusting their mental focus (holding concentration, noticing details, etc.) later in life. My feeling is that why questions play a role in a child’s attempts to meet this milestone.

Nature is not wasteful. If an action is innate, pre-programmed and hard-wired in, it is usually there for a purpose, and is not merely window dressing. Asking why inherently sets the mind on a course of pattern seeking and association-making. Why brings us directly into contact with the idea-networks that we need to access. Why is the engine that drives the associative process.

They whys of childhood that go unanswered also serve us by leading us back to ourselves later in life. They draw our attention to our inner landscape, our subconscious minds.  Why did this happen to me? Why am I acting or feeling this way? Without such provocation, we might never realize that we have a subjective, inner self­­–and we might fail to explore this vast landscape that holds not only our most profound questions, but the very answers we are looking for as well.

Rita Milios, LCSW, the Mind Mentor, is a psychotherapist, author and workshop presenter from Kissimmee, FL. She can be reached for information regarding workshops or spiritual coaching services at Or call Rita at 863-496-7223.

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