Letter No 20 - Don't ask why.

Want to improve self-awareness? Don't ask why, ask what.

Research by Tasha Eurich reveals that introspection is not that easy. We do it wrong. People who introspect a lot, often end up being less self-aware!

I can tell you this for a fact - overthinking is not introspection. I've been working with college students for the last 9 years, and I often hear people tell me - "let me think about it". My next questions is always - "That's great. How exactly are you going to think about it?"

This question draws a blank 9 times of 10. We just haven't learn how exactly to think, or introspect. It's like having a power drilling machine at home, but not knowing how to use it. Being courageous and using it improperly, is not really courage. One is going to end up damaging something, or worse still hurting someone.

How to think, how to introspect, and how to be more self-aware needs to be taught to us from a very young age.


Why did this happen to me?

Why did I get a bad score?

Why do I get taken for granted?

Why am I feeling demotivated?

These questions end up triggering a massive amount of overthinking. The problem is that we may not really have access to many of our emotions and feelings. Or, we don't know how to access and process them.

Here is a powerful idea - when it comes to introspection, ask more 'what?' questions.

What exactly happened that makes me feel this way?

What are the triggers that make me feel terrible?

What did he / she say that dropped my energy?

What are the steps I must take next time to respond better?

What are the events that led to this situation?

What do I need to do in order to perform better?


Asking 'why?' too much is dangerous because it too open-ended and unless we are really careful, it can send us down a spiral of loopy thinking.

Asking what questions pushes us to be more specific. It pushes us to make lists.

Finally - one practise that really really works for me to NEVER INTROSPECT WITHOUT A PEN AND PAPER in your hands. Always write down. Make drawings, words bubbles, bullets points, flowcharts, whatever you enjoy, but write your thoughts. I'm thinking I'll do another post on this specifically - What can I do to introspect better? What say?