Asking "Why?"

Taking a Moment: Mindful ways to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic


Welcome to another Taking a Moment, a time to remind us that we're all in this together, and we need to take care of ourselves and each other. I want to talk to you about a burning question that we all have on our minds, which is "Why? Why did this have to happen? Why did they not have enough PPE stockpiled? Why did this person get it, and that person didn't get it? Why can't people socially distance the way that I know that they should?"

So here's the problem: nobody knows why. I don't know why. You don't know why. No one does. All we do when we ask "why" all the time is to keep ourselves stuck into a spot where we can't answer the question, and we just ruminate on that.

At this time, the questions are not about why. The questions are about who, what and how. Who we can help? What can we do to help? How can we get through this together? Those are the kinds of questions that we're going to be asking right now.

It may seem a little strange for a psychiatrist to be telling you, "I don't want you to search for meaning in a particular thing." And, it is weird. I'll grant you that. But, for the most part, in this moment, where we are right now is not the time to ask, "Why?"

It's the time, in general, to start to do the work that we have to do, and we'll leave the meaning for later. The tip for today is to let go of, "Why?"

We don't need to know it right now. We'll deal with "why" another time. And, that's okay. Thanks for taking a moment with me. Stay strong.

Robert Althoff, MD and Aron Steward , PhD from CVPH Psychiatry offer tips and information about coping during this time of crisis.