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Live a Big Life: Shift from “Why Me?” to “Why?”

“The journey is the reward.” ~Chinese Proverb

We’ve probably all heard this famous piece of wisdom at one time or another.

I’ll be honest, there were a few years where I just plain blew it off.

Like, “Yeah, yeah, journey, reward, I got it. Cool. Now, when’s my ship coming in?”

Not that I was greedy. Just impatient to arrive at a place called Made It. It seemed that other people were already there and I was eager to join them.

I had seen the brochure for Made It and I knew then and there, it was my kind of place.

The trick about getting to Made It is that there wasn’t a singular map. You’re supposed to make your own.

In my case, my map started with, “First, take a hard right at Work Really Hard. Then, follow this for about three to five years.

There won’t be any signs, but if you see exits to places called Partyville and Cul-de-lack-of-Discipline, whatever you do, don’t get off there.

Keep your eyes on the road, stay awake, and eventually, you’ll arrive at your destination.”

Once I’d sussed out my map, I thought it would be a short trip, relatively speaking since I had packed properly.

In my duffle I had: my unique brand of fulfilling creative expression, plenty of determination (roll-on), focus (with back-up laser), integrity (large-ruled), networking ability (with stationary for thank you notes), and extra socks (tenacity can make you perspire).

Oh and sunscreen, because I burn easily and it’s super sunny in Made It.

I had big ambitions since my teens, so I planned to arrive in Made It early, settle in, and eventually get a summer place in Write Your Own Ticket.

I thought I’d be flying high by the time I was twenty-five—living in a two-bedroom condo in a nice high rise in downtown M. I., complete with a jolly doorman and giant beige sectional sofa that could sleep a family of six. 

I was a go-big-or-go-home sort of girl, but age twenty-five came and went, and I was still traveling. I had run out of gas a few times. Once or twice I needed a tow (waiting for that took, like, a year).

“Why me?” I would cry as I watched other cars speed past me on their merry way to Made It. “They’re not even looking over here!” I’d complain enviously.

When obstacles were thrown in my path like boulders rolling down a mountain onto the road in front of me,  I would slam on the breaks, still screaming “Why me?!”

Note: The Why Me? is an asexual species who can easily reproduce when unsupervised, and if you’re not careful, Why Me? will take over your life like Star Trek’s Tribbles.

Then, slowly, over time, with enough miles under my belt, two important things shifted.

First, my definition of “big” in “go-big-or-go-home” changed.

Second, I stopped asking “Why me?” and I started asking “Why?”

Why Me? not only hogged the radio; he wasn’t getting me anywhere, especially not to my destination.

So I kicked Why me? to the curb and invited Why? to hop on in.

Why, Why?

Because every lesson, no matter how big or small, starts with a Why?

An objective, and at times, brave Why?

Such as…

“Why is this happening in a way that I may not have expected, but what is it trying to show me?”

Or “What am I not seeing? Why am I not seeing it?”

And “Why is this situation repeating? I thought I already got this memo. What do I need to learn this time?”

Before I met Why? I would see a set-back as an unwanted detour, or worse, a breakdown.

“I’m never getting to Made It now!”

Here is an early example of what happened when I showed Why me? the door and let Why? tag along with me.

Twenty years ago, I was demoted at my summer job for failing to contact the management earlier in the season to let them know I would indeed be returning for another year.

I could have felt sorry for myself and let Why me? handle it, turing it into a mess of bridge burning, embarrassment, and certain unemployment.

Instead, I let Why? run with it. After all, it was an easy one.

Why was I demoted? Why was the management put out with me?

Well, if I were to be really honest with myself, I had taken the position for granted and somewhat disrespectfully expected the company to keep my position open while they were turning other eager people away.

Instead of walking away, as Why Me? would have wanted, Why? took responsibility and gratefully accepted the demotion.

I endured all sorts of questions about it from my fellow employees for half of the summer, but after a couple of months of hard work, I proved myself again and my bosses returned me to my previous position.

This small lesson, thanks to Why?, upped my level of professionalism, which I have carried with me ever since.

The key to riding with Why? is not being afraid to hear the answer.

It will always be the kind of answer that makes your soul nod a big Yes.

When we invite Why? to join us our journeys, then life is less of a boondoggle and more of an elegant mystery, just begging to be solved.

Then Made It begins to seem less and less of a desirable destination, because you will realize, as I did, that I had already passed it a long time ago.

Why? has been my constant and trusty companion on my journey during these last twenty-five years. Why? is a great hang.

I should warn you that when you first travel with Why?, he can and will rattle your cage. Don’t blame him and don’t resist it. This is his job.

He’s trying to get you to examine things more deeply than you ever have before.

He even might throw your precious map out the window as you yell, “Hey! I still need that!”

He might run ahead, pulling you along faster than you’re ready to go—taking you to some rest stop you’d swore you’d never visit.

He’ll pop the hood any chance he gets.

I know Why? seems like a rabble-rouser, especially when you’re not used to his presence.

But if you steady yourself and let Why? stick around, you will soon find that he carries great snacks, a unique form of travel insurance, and rarely takes a bathroom break.

Pretty soon, you’ll refuse to travel without him by your side.

I owe Why? quite a lot at this point in my life.  Thanks to him, I was able to change how I define “big.”

Now, my definition of “big” means: health, contentment, flow, inner peace, and blessings for my family, friends, and community.

“Big” also means love, joy, hope, oneness, and gratitude.

Why? has made my journey the reward.

And the reward has been big.

Photo by DieselDemon

Avatar of Alexandra Hope Flood

About Alexandra Hope Flood

Alexandra Hope Flood is a writer, blogger, intuitive coach and consultant. Her sole goal is a soul goal: to live consciously and aid others in their quest to do the same. To read her blog, a flood of hope (+humor) or schedule a phone session, please visit alexandrahopeflood.com.

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  • http://twitter.com/_HappyClub The Furries

    Asking ‘why?’ takes a lot of guts, asking ‘why me?’ is human but seldom leads anywhere but down the drain…
    Thanks for a great post about taking responsibility for your own life!

  • Ellen Atkibs

    Thanks Alix. You have an entertaining way of writing and yes I love the why, I usually ask ” What are you hear to teach me.” Same thing. So much growth takes place. Xo

  • Alexandra Hope Flood

    Thanks so much for your comment! To be frank, once I figured out this “Why me?” vs. “Why?”distinction, my life has become so much smoother. I no longner feel as though life is “happening” to me. Instead, I am partnered with it. :)

  • Joan Harrison

    I have just written an article on the question ‘why’. I have used this question constantly throughout my life and it has saved me and my sanity on many an occasion. Great to hear someone sees the positives of asking yourself this very important question. Closely followed by ‘why not’.

  • Alexandra Hope Flood

    Thanks Joan! I love the “Why Not?” chaser idea. So true. “Why?” is really freeing. :)

  • Alexandra Hope Flood

    Hi Ellen, why thank you so much! So nice to hear from you. As long as we’re growing, we’re going, right? XO

  • lv2terp

    WOW, you have an amazing skill in your delivery!!! That was humorous, insightful, and just a pleasure to read! I giggled and smiled the whole way through, and am grateful for the wisdom you share!! :)

  • Alexandra Hope Flood

    Gosh, why thank you so much! Humbled am I (as Yoda might say ;) by your exceedingly kind comment. Have a wonderful day! :)

  • Karisa

    Totally was thinking the exact same thing! Halfway through i thought, “Hey, this is really well written!”.

    Loved the article and will definitely keep this in mind when I start defaulting to why me.

  • http://www.joyattheheart.com/ Lucy Charms

    What a great way to put it. I feel like i’ve ‘Made It’ in so many ways, but there’s one aspect of my life where I keep crying ‘Why Me?’ and nothing ever seems to get unstuck. It’s frustrating and crazy-making and makes me curl up in a ball on my couch and watch too many episodes of ‘Dexter’. This article gives me another way to look at it. Thanks!

  • Ji Eun

    Thank you very much. this post reminded me of one episode I watched on Oprah’s show. I can’t remember who the guest was, but the guest also said what you wrote. I also enjoyed very much your creative writing style. Thank you very much

  • Alexandra Hope Flood

    Hi Ji, thank you very much for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful. :)

  • Alexandra Hope Flood

    Hi Lucy, Thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad you find my method helpful. If you dismantle that one aspect that’s been a sticking point with “Why?”, I guarantee that sooner or later you will have a “Eureka!” moment that will not only be exciting, but will free up that area and get it flowing again. Please keep me posted! :)

  • José El Diestro

    Brilliant article! I’m currently 25 and feel stuck. But all this time i have asked my self “why me?”. Or even worse, i haven’t even asked myself anything, and the mistakes kept repeating over and over again… Good job, GOOD ARTICLE! Thanks

  • kavin paker

    Totally was thinking the exact same thing! Halfway through i thought, “Hey, this is really well written!”
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