Before You Get Angry at the WHAT, ask WHY?

People are angry these days, and justifiably so.

The government is a mess, kids are getting shot in schools and the world just feels like a scary and dangerous place.

Unfortunately, the justifiable anger from some of these big-world-issues seems to be spreading into our small, every day personal interactions.

  • Cursing the guy who cuts you off in traffic and speeds off.
  • Starting a fight with the person who is being a “Sancti-Mommy” online.
  • Snapping at your kid because they forgot something important at school.

I’m not above it.  We’ve ALL done it before.  Heck, I have probably done it today.

Recently, I have been listening to Jenny Nash, Book Coach, on the Mom Writes podcast. One of the main points she brings up frequently is that when it come to writing a story, it’s not about the WHAT, it’s about the WHY.

For example, if someone posted on Facebook highlighting the “WHAT” details of a story about a teenage girl who snuck out at night to go to a party, even after her mother expressly forbid it, the comment section would be on fire.

“Teenagers these days have no respect for their parents!”

“Where were the parents? My kids would never be able to sneak out because I pay attention to my kids!”

“I bet that girl is having sex and doing drugs!”

Now, what if the original poster of the story clarified, “actually, the story is Cinderella.”

When you know the WHYs about the evil step sisters, the prince and the pure, kind, innocence of the girl that you just branded a slut in the comment section, you’re able to make judgements based on the whole story not just a few select details.

I think that a lot of us could take this book-writing concept of what vs why to heart in day to day life.


  • The guy who cut you off in traffic was distracted because he just found out his wife was taken to the hospital and he’s rushing to get to her.
  • The “Sancti-Mommy” on Facebook is overprotective of her child because she lost a sibling when she was young.
  • Your child forgot their book at school because they were distracted trying to help protect a friend from a bully.

Now, I’m not saying that there’s always an excuse for bad behavior – sometimes people are just jerks. But perhaps the next time you feel a rage building about the “what” that someone just did, take a few minutes to consider there just may be a “why.”


This post is from “Wish ‘n Well Wednesday” at my Dusting Off My Parachute Facebook Group.  Join us there for more daily micro-resolutions.

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For more great writing tips, definitely check out the Podcast, Mom Writes (with Abby Mathews, Melanie Parish & Jennie Nash,) and Jennie Nash’s Author Accelerator Program.

The Cinderella example was from a great writing workshop I went to recently by Jennifer Ziegler.  Check out her books here.