by Paige Zuckerman, Red Willow Clinical Director / December 2019
There’s a lot of chatter lately about ‘finding your why’ in the world of business. Catchphrase aside, this idea is not only applicable for entrepreneurs and Fortune-500 CEO’s. In mental health and addiction recovery, asking ourselves ‘why?’ is both challenging and critical. It can be a guiding inquiry that leads us to deeper purpose in our healing process.
“Why” is a word counselors are often discouraged from using in sessions with clients. If not posed with tremendous care, ‘why?’ may elicit defensiveness or feelings of shame; yet the significance of what the question can reveal within us keeps us asking. Beyond language, the idea of ‘your why’ is about locating within yourself the core of what motivates you.
Victor Frankl said “between stimulus and response there is a space, in that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” I love this quote; to me it’s a reminder that when we find in ourselves the anchors of what is meaningful to us, we find the power to engage clearly and purposefully with our circumstances. Your ‘why’ is a compass; a tool that, when located and calibrated, can guide you through life’s inevitable ordeals and joys.
‘Why?’ isn’t just about the things you want, goals you have, or outward changes you would like to make. That is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What’s below all of those external affirmations is the invitation to know yourself deeply, to examine your deeply held values. I like to think of it as coming home. Goals and behavior changes are the eventual benefits, but none of that matters until you find home in yourself. Maybe that’s the biggest ‘why?’ of all.
Here’s a little exercise I like to do to ‘come home’ to my ‘why?’ from time-to-time: make a “Loves List”. Write out a big, beautiful list of everything you deeply love, cherish and feel gratitude for. There’s no limit to your love, write to your heart’s content! Now, hold onto it. Keep it somewhere you can revisit it regularly. This is a doorway to your ‘why.’
Happy holidays, however you choose to connect to them, and we’ll be back at the turn of a new decade!