It Doesn’t Matter Why

Screen shot 2013-02-11 at 11.06.06 AM

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I never seem to be able to stick to a goal. This is a perfect example: I’ve already given up on my New Year’s Resolution. My goal was to work out and eat healthier. That lasted less than 3 weeks. I start off strong and the next thing I know, I’m telling myself stories about why it doesn’t matter, why it’s hopeless, and then I’m at Dunkin Donuts eating a box of munchkins. Why can’t I stick to a goal?

ANSWER

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of the question why. I’m sure it’s strange to hear a shrink say this. Many people in my profession make a living throwing that question, in one form or another, out to their clients. The problem with asking why is that it doesn’t promote ACTION which in turn would promote a solution. Think about it: You could spend a decade on a shrink’s couch engaging in endless intellectual masturbation (also know as curiosity). Sure, after some time, you’ll (hopefully) have some fancy explanations for why you do and don’t do things in your life. The problem is, you may not be any closer to meeting your goals.

I believe that asking better questions yields better results. Rather than ask why do I do this, ask yourself, what do I need to do differently to get a different outcome, or, how can I get what I want. Questions that begin with the word why tend to keep us stuck on the problem. Questions that begin with the words how, when, and what will spawn you into action. But as long as you have a free shrink who has no interest in promoting your stagnation for even 1 minute, I’ll indulge your curiosity and give you a paragraph of analysis.

The stories you tell yourself are causing you to cave. We all engage in internal dialogues which most of us are blithely unaware of. Lucky for you, you’re clear that you tell yourself defeating stories such as it’s hopeless, it doesn’t matter, etc. You need to replace those defeating stories with supportive stories and when you find yourself replaying those negative thoughts, immediately go to supportive thoughts that contradict them. And get yourself a Goals Buddy, someone who will hold you accountable daily for making progress on your goals. None of us can create big change in a vacuum ~ we need others to help us make progress. And for the love of God, stop eating those fucking donuts.

Writer's stats: Female, straight.