Why, Why, Why???

Perhaps the most common refrain we hear from clients (as well as from ourselves occasionally) is “WHY?”

It’s perfectly normal to ask this question – and, usually, equally useless.

We tell ourselves if only I knew why, then things would be different. Unhappily, even if you could answer the question, it usually fixes nothing. Asking why tends to keep your focus on the past, distracting you from the present, when change occurs, and future which can be altered.

An easy example: I smoked for about 35 years. 20 years ago when I quit I could have continued to ask “WHY did I ever start?” Even the best answers like “everyone at college did,” which had their points, as did “Boredom” and “Image” would have gotten me no closer to quitting. Indeed, wasting time on “Why?” – and I did – simply put off quitting, which was probably one of the reasons for asking.

Nothing like the futile pursuit of the unknowably “Why?” to fuel procrastination as we seek to evade doing something we know it’s past time to do.

How many of you have read this Newsletter for 6 months, or years, or longer seeking the elusive “Why?” rather than quitting your destructive drinking?

For that matter, how many of you read the Newsletter as a way to con yourselves into thinking reading the Newsletter is “doing something about the drinking?”

No, I’m not much different than you except, maybe, I no longer use “Why?” as the reason I haven’t written another half dozen books. I haven’t written the books because I don’t want to put in the effort.

And like you, I want a bit of magic. 20 years ago I wanted to have quit smoking – I just didn’t want to go through what it was going to take even though, having quit before, I knew the tough part would be over in a few days. Quitting drinking is more like writing a book – we want it done, but we don’t want to do it because those first few weeks are tough.

But, believe me, they aren’t as tough as living with the wish and never achieving the end.

“It’s Too Late!”

After “Why?” the next most common “reason” for not doing almost anything is “It’s too late!”

Yes, I know that one too – after 35 years of cigarettes I “knew” it was too late for quitting to make a difference. Wrong! After a mere 3 years my life insurance rates declined by 50% – insurance companies know a lot more than doctors about the results of various behavior changes.

We have had many clients whose alcohol consumption has remained steady at two bottle of chardonnay a day for 30 years or more. Others report comparable patterns of consumption. “Too late” rapidly became “just in time” – that being just in time to enjoy grandchildren, travel, sex, and a myriad of other benefits, including an extra decade or two of an enhanced life.

Really, folks, at the very least it’s not too late to see if life without excessive self-medication is better than life with. Truly – if you don’t like it, there is nothing to stop you from returning to your beverage of choice at any time. But why not make that a choice, not a sentence?