Child's drawing of a mouse

Artist: Paloma Londoño, Age 5

Why or Why Not?

If you have toddlers or you have been around them, you will notice their favorite words are “why” or “why not?”. Now you may quickly give them answers, but you may notice kids are persistent little humans. After they start grabbing spaghetti with their hands and you tell them they cannot, they ask again “why”? You then say that a fork must be used; which is followed by another “why”? Pretty soon, you either may get annoyed and say, “because I say so,” which is very tempting, or you may actually pause and ponder the “why” of all the things you teach kids or you believe. If you continue the “why” exercise for anything you do or do not do, you may arrive at something called your belief. A belief is something you have thought so many times repetitively that it is now just that, a belief. It is the innate core of why you do things. It does not have a positive or negative connotation, but it is a belief or thought. Have you ever, just like your toddler is asking you, asked yourself why? I mean really asked why you have those beliefs? And not to come back with “just because,” or “my mother said so,” or “I was taught that.” Those are true statements, but if you dig deep, you may find an unconscious thought that may surprise you which is the guiding force to your decisions and actions.

If you are totally satisfied with your results in life from those thoughts and beliefs, then no further action is likely needed. But if there are areas in your life, which could be improved, or you want to grow into, perhaps this may be a great exercise, just like the one that governs your curious toddler’s mind. If you also realize, most of the things you do, or do not do, are also based on fear.

As a physician, and a urologist, many people do not come to see me until they are scared. Fear is what compels them to come to the doctor, not the bother of symptoms, but fear. Yes, they may be telling you they go frequently to pee, or that their testicle hurts, but if you dig deep, they may be coming because they are afraid they may have cancer. They may have multiple fears if you explore the why. Understanding the why and not just recording their symptoms and prescribing your favorite medication, maybe where the most important part of the interview lies. We tend not to think about it.

As physicians we were trained to ask when symptoms started, what are they associated with, what makes them better or worse, what have they tried to make it better, but we tend to skip the why. Fear tends to be an extensive cause for us to do or not do something. We are afraid of doing something because of pain, because of misinformation, because of possible discomfort. In our house, our driveway has an incline.

My 5-year-old daughter loves to rollerblade, and she has learned to go down the incline into the curb without hesitation. Meanwhile, I go down this short but steep driveway, like an apprentice snowboarder going down the mountain, using the falling leaf technique. I go side to side, slowly, making small progress until I am at the curb.

Now, why do I do this?

Why am I afraid?

The worst thing that can happen is maybe I fall, and since it is not 35 mph, but about 2 seconds of feeling the speed of the incline, my injuries, if any, will be minor. However, fear of discomfort holds me back from even trying. The same thing happens to so many projects, dreams, or goals in life. Whether you do not put yourself out there to date because you are afraid to be uncomfortable, you do not dare to dream you could write a book, or that you could lose weight and feel amazing.

All the things that are stopping you from doing amazing things or finding happiness are fear. It is a sensation that will pass, and it is literally in your mind, thoughts, and beliefs.

If you explore the why you do things or why you are holding back, it may give you a clue about your results of why you still do not have a boyfriend, or you have not reached your dream to become the nurse you wanted to be. Once you are aware, then you could begin to change your thoughts on the subject and then you may feel a bit different about the situation and then come up with solutions, plans, actions to change the result and find a boyfriend.

Focusing on all the things that have gone wrong before, pointing out all the flaws on the current guy that may be interested in dating you, instead of focusing on some of the positive qualities he has, will never change the result. So, ask yourself why you do things, why you get angry when someone asks you something? I am not saying you must change why you do it or why you get angry.

You can continue your same path and same anger feeling inside you. If you dare to be uncomfortable, to understand your fears, it may stop your limiting beliefs that have not allowed you to go down your driveway in rollerblades, find your lifelong partner or write a book. The result is a few moments of adrenaline as you go down the driveway and you realize it is actually so much fun, you will do this multiple times thereafter.

So, ask yourself why or why not?

Become a curious toddler.

Their curiosity should be fostered, not tampered with because it is easier to say, “I said so.”Challenge your beliefs and maybe dare to make new ones. It will transform you.

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