I have been blogging for a year and half now. A lot of learning, growth, healing and connection has happened in that year and a half.

195 posts of learning, growing and healing to be exact. As I am continuing to work on growing the platform ofEver Upward, I am growing my Justine Froelker’s YouTube channel. You can find Self-Care Tip Tuesdays, funny videos of the dogs, tapping scripts, my appearances on Great Day St. Louis and videos of me speaking to old blog posts, so please subscribe!

I originally wrote Change the Why in May of 2014. This is a slightly reworked and updated version of it, along with a NEW video explanation.


Why? The word that so many toddlers torture their parents with as their curiosity about the world overwhelms them so much that they must know why about everything.

Why? Why? But, why?

It is counseling 101, and in reality, one of the most helpful communication tools I teach to my clients; take the why out of your conversations, especially the difficult ones.

Saying why can feel accusatory, and when we feel accused our defenses go up which means healthy communication typically becomes even more difficult and can even shut down.

iStock_000033073944SmallWhy did you do that?

Why do you feel that way?

Why do you think that?

Why can’t you just be better?

Taking the why out of these questions feels a lot different.

What was that about?

How come you feel that way?

What is that thought process about for you?

What is holding you back from changing?

These small changes may seem trivial but try saying those statements out loud to yourself and feel the difference. Now imagine how much your communication can be helped if you become more conscious of the why.

But, the why I really want for us all to change is your self talk why. The why you beat yourself up with when you make a mistake.

I first learned of how hard I am on myself when I took a workshop with Kristen Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, at Emerging Women last year. In the workshop, she talked us through her self-compassion break meditation and for the first time I had to see in my own handwriting how hard I am on myself when I make a simple mistake. That berating self talk, calling ourselves names and really just not being nice to ourselves at all. This kind of self talk does not motivate us to change even though we’ve convinced ourselves that it has. We must realize what our inner critic is really trying to do, which is keep us safe or or keep us from suffering or improve us but through the years it has developed a pretty mean way of doing so.

Neff’s research shows that self-compassion is where confidence and change can really occur. Her self-compassion model includes self-kindness (talking to yourself like you talk to a loved one), common humanity (reminding ourselves that everyone struggles and everyone makes mistakes) and mindfulness (being present with all our emotions). Combine that with the shame resilience skills from the work of Brené Brown and your self talk becomes a lot more pleasant and motivating.

A typical day for me will always include a trip, a spill or something breaking. It is just who I am, I am usually going too fast and as a firm believer in the one trip that often times means I am falling or breaking something. Yesterday for example, at coffee with a new friend as we are deep in great conversation I pick up my coffee cup to take a drink and it literally explodes; lid pops off, hot coffee all over my dress, the table and in my bowl of oatmeal (in my defense the barista had bent the cup before handing it to me but I was also moving too fast as usual).

Before learning the work of Kristen Neff and Brené Brown my inner dialogue would have been:

You’re such an idiot. Oh my gosh, you are ridiculous. Why can’t you be more careful? Just f*cking slow down! You’re so stupid. How embarrassing!

After doing this work in my recovery:

Well, that had to be hysterical. That sucks, I’m covered in coffee. I need to stop, slow down and be more careful. Great girl, but not great choice.

I think we all struggle with this mean inner dialogue from time to time. I see it every day with my clients. My challenge to us all is to be nicer to ourselves. To take the why out of our self talk and replace it with how come or what. And finally, to remember we are worthy, lovable and great people who make mistakes but we don’t have to be those mistakes.

Today become conscious of how you talk to yourself. Be nice and change the why

10 thoughts on “Why WHY is Unproductive

  1. In a week where I have cut my finger on a wine bottle (it’s ok), run over my iPhone with my car (also, amazingly, ok), and spilled the contents of the entire recycle bin as I was dragging it to the curb, this post and video are timely. I may also share these with my husband since he can’t wrap his brain around how things like this happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh how I hear you on that kind of week!!! So glad this touched a chord for you! J


  2. This is a great post. I’m going to listen to this again.

    My husband asks me “why” frequently and I do find myself being very defensive. I’m going to post again in regard to this “why” post of yours …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t find that I’m berating myself with “why” … but rather that others are, chiefly my husband, ask “why”. I hate feeling defensive. I’m not sure how to handle this situation, except to point out that when he asks why by telling me it puts me on the defensive.

    Sometimes I find my answer back to him is degrading about myself because I honestly don’t know how to answer some of the why questions he asks me. He will ask, “why didn’t you turn the light out?”, “why did you feed cat A first before cat B?” IMO, none of his why questions are really legitimate and don’t seem to be asked in a curious manner but rather an accusatory manner. I have answered, him as embarrassed as I am to admit it with such responses as, “I don’t know. I guess I’m just really stupid.” I don’t honestly think I’m super stupid … I really don’t know how to tackle the why from other people … what do you have to say about the WHYS coming from others, Justine? Just wondering.

    And if you don’t answer this question, why?!? Just kidding! 🙂


    1. You have such a powerful point! I think it is having that conversation, educating him on how awful why feels. Trying hard yourself, to change your why in order to model it for him but also in that moment when he says it to confront it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Audry says:

    Thank you, thank you! As one who berates herself daily, this was a refreshing read. I’m going to come back to it again so I can absorb it more completely.


    1. Audry, So glad you found this helpful!!! Keep an eye out for other videos!


  5. candidkay says:

    Just finished Brene’s Daring Greatly and it really was such a good book. That self talk is key!

    Liked by 1 person

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