I really think this applies to addiction, mental health issues, or any other significant illness or tragedy that can happen. Now don’t get me wrong, asking why is important. Finding out the root cause of something is important to treat it. But getting stuck in the Why is dangerous.
I see this play out often when working with families of those with addictions and with people who struggle with any mental health issue. It is natural for us to want to know why me? Why them? Why not someone else? Why do I have this problem? Why do I have to deal with this when others don’t have to? I hear questions like why do some people become addicted to things and others never do? Why do some people in families end up with addictions or anxiety/depression and others don’t seem to struggle at all?
Asking why and researching why is beneficial to better understanding of how to treat different issues and illnesses. Asking why also provides insight into ways to create different outcomes for the future and direct treatment and care of those who are struggling.
However, getting stuck in the Why is dangerous. Because even when you’re given all the science and all the statistics you may still not find exactly what you’re looking for. It will not change the fact that you now have something significant that you need to address and treat. It will not change the fact that you have struggled or suffered. And if you stay in the Why and never move toward asking other equally important questions you will become bitter and angry.
It is important to be able to move on to those other questions such as how, when, where, and what. How do I start to heal? When do I need to seek professional help? What kind of help do I need? Where can I go to seek that help? Those questions help you to start moving forward in the healing process.
If you are struggling and you are stuck in the Why, the first step is to acknowledge it. Recognize that you are stuck in trying to answer a question that may never provide you a satisfying answer. One practice I encourage all my clients to begin is acceptance. It is difficult to master but vitally important for healing. I believe it really falls in line with the serenity prayer.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
This allows you to move forward and be able to take steps that you need to heal and recover. Everyone’s healing journey is different; but it starts by moving forward from the Why, accepting what is, and asking what you can do to start healing.