Ever since we are children, we either ask questions or we demand answers and the process continues throughout into our adult life. The irony is that most of us ask questions for the pretence; we are seeking an authentic answer which means a true opinion of another, whereas the reality is that mostly we want the answers we like to hear; answers that align with our subjective reality. The questions I am referring to here are the ones that do not have a black-and-white or a two-plus-two-is-four answer. These are mostly questions that are rooted in an expectation of the other to be a certain way that meets our own needs. Why can’t you work harder? Do you love me? Why did you not choose me? Will you stay? Do I matter to you?

I have been there. I have time and again asked such questions from people that mattered to me and made me feel so safe and cared for, that the possibility of change scared me. So, I believed that if I asked certain questions, I could get rid of the overwhelming anxiety I was experiencing, caused by not knowing if they will continue to care for me or not. Do I look pretty? Am I too much for you? Will you leave? And in my naïve experience of life, I used to think that by simply asking the question, I will get the answer I am dying to hear.

I realised two important things about this line of questioning. Firstly, asking such questions unconsciously was unfair to the other. How? Well, asking a friend if I look nice only has one answer, doesn’t it? If he says no, you don’t look pretty, he becomes the bad guy. So, it seems like there is an expectation of one answer and that is a yes.

I also realised that the answer someone gives to a question might be true for that moment but the answer can change later. For example, asking ‘will you stay in my life?’ The other might say yes, then but maybe a few months or years down the lane, he or she doesn’t want to stay. People change. Relationships change. An answer given at one time can change at a later time and that does not necessarily make anyone a villain of our story unless one hurts intentionally. Change is the most constant thing and a demand for an answer is a protest to it.

I used to, and still sometimes ask such questions when the fear of the unknown blinds me and makes me feel helpless and so a slave to a sudden compulsion—it drives me to get some answer to ground myself for that day. But slowly I have learned that if our significant relationships have changed or if someone is behaving a certain way, asking the ‘why’ question will not change his or her response. But I have the choice to respond to that change as I see best. If that change hurts me, I can walk away and if the change is acceptable to me, I have a choice to stay.

I am also coming to terms with the fact that many of these questions are not intended for the other but our own selves. We have to work out the answers. Having said that, I do believe that sometimes words matter, and we want affirmations. But if someone doesn’t want to offer, we can’t force them to, can we? Also, words distract us from the energetic experience of another that perhaps has more answers than we are looking for.

Sometimes we are unable to see the answers that are facing us right in our faces. We are unable to see these new answers because we are still used to the ones that were given to us when we were young. If we were rejected as children by our parents, we are bound to ask again and again in our adult relationships if we will be rejected again. Perhaps, driven by our anxiety we will even start behaving in a way that would push the other person away and our primary story continues.

It is valid sometimes to ask these questions and to need an answer, but it is equally important to start letting these answers emerge within us in their own time.