What and why
This is an interesting concept I have grappled with over the last 3-4 years of my practice. It seems to me that there is two fractions at work with everything we do in relating to particular instances and situations in our lives the "What and Why" concept.
To explain this I will look at different situations in the way Human Beings interact with each other which I have observed through news/media, observing the clients I work with and personal circumstances in my life.
The "What" part of the concept seems to me to be the building blocks of understanding why things go wrong in our lives and the reason we don't move forward. Some of this, is due in part, to us trying to fix things instead of looking at the underlying reasons for "Why" things are not working. The "What" is an easier aspect to work with. We don't have to look too deep or question ourselves within this process. We don't have to take responsibility in the "what" - we go into fixing mode, usually more prone stereotypically to Men but can also be a part of the female context. This moving to fixing mode is usually only a short term fix and does not usually get the underlying problem resolved. It tends to just move it to another "What", a bit like people who have a compulsive aspect to their life's. Sometimes you are able to resolve the particular compulsion they present with but then the compulsion impulse moves onto another area in their life. It's usually more expensive to fix the "What" in the long term as when it moves it just creates another version of itself; you still have to fix the next "What". The "Why" is usually connected more to the taking responsibility for our actions and interconnections to the what.
It's our choice whether we take the "Why" or the "What" route but in order to remove the problem altogether we have to understand the "Why", take responsibility for it and change our interactions to complete the process.
In order to initially explain this process I shall use the issue of taking chemical substitutes to explore this concept.
Most Professionals know that people who take chemical substitutes are trying to alter their view of life, their life's position, hide from emotional conflict or it, the substitute, enables them to see their world differently to the reality that it is, a deflection process. This view in no way minimises the huge reaction chemical substitutes have on people's life's or the misery it inflicts on people. I need to say I have no clinical expertise in working with people around chemical substitutes but I do have a deep understanding of people and how they relate to others.
I am breaking the chemical substitute issue down to the basics and taking away the emotional involvement of the process to explore this concept. In order for us to fix these issues in peoples lives we try to give people drying out or other acclimatising programs, reducing the amount or taking away the chemicals altogether, to help them come off the addiction. Taking the chemicals is the "What" - we don't have to look at the "Why". The process is to get the person off the dependency of the chemical and the resulting implications to society. This may fix it for the individual person at that time, or it may not. It may just temporarily help them but they might then go back to the chemical of choice in the future, or deflect again from the "Why" and create another "What".
This process does nothing to understand the reason "Why" someone would want to take chemical substitutes in the first place. In order to understand that society needs to understand the initial reason - "Why", they would want to deflect their individual life issues by taking drugs in the first place.
This is a much deeper problem where society and people in their system would need to analyse their role in that choice and also to take responsibility for their part in that person's choice of eventually taking chemicals, starting the process of going down this different reality route.
This taking responsibility is a much harder thing to admit to as society would have to admit that things are wrong in the world and that we have a part to play in that. Instead of working with the "Why" we just do more initiatives, throw more money at the issue, clearing our conscience. We have done something, and work with the result of the "Why" the "What".
In relationships, more around my area of practice, we have the same problems and when working with clients, the "What" might be the issue people originally present, and there might be lots of "What's". These are easier to see and work with as they don't require us to look any deeper nor to immerse ourselves in or see the clients system involvement in the process. To show an example of this, the client may have a person in their life who is constantly leaving things lying around, making a mess, leaving a disaster area when they move off, either physically things lying around, or emotionally leaving the people around them distraught. You might see that as a "What" they do - they never change, just more and more of a mess.
Now if they have always been like that then it might just be them. If however they started doing it at any one point in time you may see some type of insecurity trauma, someone leaving, parents getting a divorce, walking out etc, or someone dying.
This then may lead you down the road of hypothesising or questioning as to the security of that person, in the client's system. Are they leaving things lying around, emotionally or physically just so they will still have a presence in the room or in the system to remain secure? If you work on the "Why" you will resolve the issue, the reason for the "What" appearing in the first place, working to build that persons security in the system.
If you work on the "what" then you will just interact with the situation of leaving things at the time. This will often create turmoil in the process and disharmony, forcing them (the person leaving things) to take away some of their security, leaving them more insecure the next time they have to leave, and possibly moving the "What" into some other area of their life.
By working with and understanding the "Why" it will resolve things for all time as it removes the need for having the "What" in that person's life. Sometimes lots of "What's" may be around the process. They may overlap or be singular, they may be different "What's" but the one thing which will connect them will usually, in my opinion, be a feeling, in most situations the link will be a similar feeling. Like the insecurity in the above example the base problem will result in a feeling of being insecure and the way it is being presented is always leaving a mess, different messes, but similar feelings.
You might want to change the terminology I am using if you were working with clients with a history of an abusive situation the "What" might be classed as the trigger or reaction.
If you can get to the base feeling then you can resolve the problem.
It's the getting to the base feeling which is the hardest thing to do as this involves the other people, and their systems, in that person's life taking their responsibility in the issue. The couple who are separating, the possible reason in the above example, will have to face up to their issues and resolve them, to enable the child to feel more secure, so maybe they don't have to react by leaving the mess, the person dying will have to be discussed and so the system can emotionally bring closure to them not being around.
All this involves people talking honestly and being emotionally open to others, which is usually very hard for most humans to do, people usually see this as making them vulnerable and weak, which is the opposite of the reality, as if you able to be vulnerable and open with others it's a very strong and secure position. This is sometimes the reason that we, the professionals, are distracted from looking at the "Why" in that it's easier to work with the "What" it does not require us to or involve us in opening ourselves up to the possible transference experience of seeing other people's emotions, as in seeing and working with emotions we have to connect with our own emotions also at the same time a joining together in the pain and suffering, being empathic.
We have to as professionals and more importantly as society get more to the point in looking at what the "Why's" are as this will be more helpful to everyone concerned in the end and will also enable the person's we are working with to move on and not have to "What" anymore. If we choose to go down the emotionally easier route of working with the "What's" then we will just move the issue or the problem on to some other deflection source and this will not be the most beneficial outcome for the client or their system. Insecurity is a major force in the reason we resist in looking at the "Why" as in looking at the "Why" we have to also look at our own insecurities and connect with them.
Seventh Ray on 28/09/2011