19th October 2011
Ever noticed how, at a certain stage in their development, a child’s favourite word is ‘Why?’ It seems to prefix just about everything they say - ‘Why did he do that? Why can’t I have that? Why does a cake rise? Why do I have to get dressed?’
To be on the receiving end of the constant stream of ‘Why?’ is not always easy. But, as adults we encourage children to ask as many ‘Why?’ questions as they can. Particularly, because the ‘Why?’ question is so fundamental to our development. It demonstrates curiosity and a yearning to understand how things work and, assists us as we begin to make meaning of what is happening within us and around us. ‘Why?’ is often the first word we use to articulate our curiosity about the complex workings of relationship.
In its purest form ‘Why?’ is a fabulous question. Yet increasingly I notice, for many adults, this tiny three letter word is experienced as threatening, invasive, blaming and combative. As a result the response to it is one of defence, attack, anger, panic and/or fear. What’s fascinating is it seems to be happening in any number of contexts i.e. intimate relationships, employer/employee, between friends and colleagues as well as customers and staff members.
The most distressing part - no matter the context, the result is always the same – disconnection!