Why are you here?: How CBT can help you answer this question

CBT Full Day / Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Why are you here?: How CBT can help you answer this question

Have you ever asked that question? When you think of this question, does it sound to you like philosophy or spirituality? Does it sound to you like religion or metaphysics? Or does it sound to you like science or a nuisance?

One of the best scientists to date, who is also known as the father of Modern Anthropology [1], once said, “The good scientist is not the person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.”  And you need not be a scientist for you to ask yourself this question, “Why are you here?”

Perhaps, you are yet to appreciate why you would even bother asking such a question, which we’ll agree may be loaded for some. Here are four of the main reasons why this is not only a question worth asking by everyone but also one worth exploring, and pondering upon until there is enough clarity to take action:

  1. Not knowing why you are here can leave you rather confused and lost in life. Yes, you heard it. This world looks, seems to be, and sounds, so complex. Nothing seems to be permanent; nothing seems to stay for long enough, at least, not forever. Things come and go; there is so much unpredictability. This may be particularly what you are thinking about given COVID, race relations, politics, and elections. It never seems to end. Life does not seem to have a point, unless, of course, you know why you are here. As a clinician, if you think none of this applies to you, simply know that it does apply to your patients. As published in the British Medical Journal, the rate of suicide has increased by 145% due to COVID and related factors [2]. This may be easy to understand. “After all, aren’t we here, on earth, to fight? Weren’t we born so we could confront life until we die?” Is there any other reason why are we here?” There is no reason for us to not be confused by the way “life” or the “world” rolls unless we are clear on why we are here?

  2. Not knowing why you are here makes you more susceptible to suffering. Are you here to suffer? Or have you been thinking that life has a lot of suffering attached to it? Of course, the likelihood that those close to you support that view is very high; and this makes it easier for you to have that similar attitude and belief about life without ever looking any deeper, and without ever scrutinizing them. There again, not knowing why you are here can only lead to feeling that, “life is just about suffering.” And, because basic Neuroscience has proven time and time again that our beliefs run our lives [3]; believing that life is about suffering results in suffering. It has to. There is no other way.

  3. Not knowing why you are here leads to a passive life and makes you see yourself as a victim. Have you been complaining, blaming, and pointing fingers? Well, any of those are signs that you both see yourself as a victim, and disempowered, leaving you with no ability to do anything, to choose anything, or to change your circumstances. You then resign yourself to live a passive life.  Asking the question, “Why am I here,” may be your best starting point out of this state of victimhood.

  4. Not knowing why you are here leaves you unable to have a healthy relationship with your thoughts, your emotions, the world, those around you, including yourself. Have you ever felt like you were on a roller coaster ride when it came to your thoughts, your emotions, your relationships, and how you feel about yourself? Well, as long as you do not know why you are here, this will remain the case. “But, but,” you may retort. “But, but, isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t life supposed to be a roller coaster ride?”  A question to which we will answer by reminding you that most of the people around you may be telling you that life is a roller coaster ride, and if you look closely you will notice that all these people are rather miserable and suffering. And if you remember the Neuroscience principle that our beliefs give us our habits, results, and identity, then no need to look any further to understand that something must be missing in those who believe that life is meant to be a roller coaster ride. Of course, as we explained above, nothing is permanent, but once you are clear on why you are here, you will find that you are now developing a different relationship with the impermanence of the world. You will understand it differently, and you will be able to see why it is in fact meant to help you accomplish that which you are here, on earth, for; as opposed to hindering it.

Now, what to do?

You have learned four of the main reasons why asking and answering the question, “why you are here,” is not only essential, but will free you from suffering and misery, and will help you help your patients in a different way.

On January 8, 2021 we are having a full-day CEU online seminar on CBT and we will focus on how to properly work with our patients, using CBT. We will also help you see how you can use CBT to answer this essential question, “Why are you here?”

Are you ready to help your patients through CBT? Are you ready to learn how CBT can help you answer the question that makes all the difference?

If so, CLICK HERE now to join us.

[1] Wilcken, P. (2012). Claude Lévi-Strauss: The father of modern anthropology. London: Penguin Books.

[2] John, A., Pirkis, J., Gunnell, D., Appleby, L., & Morrissey, J. (2020, November 12). Trends in suicide during the covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved December 23, 2020.

[3] Sathyanarayana Rao, T S et al. “The biochemistry of belief.” Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 51,4 (2009): 239-41. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.58285

About the Authors:

Karen Dubin-McKnight, PhD, LCSW, is a Columbia-trained Social Worker with wide clinical, teaching, and supervision experience. She also has a background in management, mentorship, and leadership that spans almost 20 years. Her added passion is in advocacy, coaching, public relations, and mediation. Her goal is to ensure that social workers and women feel empowered and have a voice “at the table.” She has previously held Executive level positions, and two other directorships in different organizations. She is currently Adjunct Faculty at Columbia University School of Social Work and Adelphi University School of Social Work. She also maintains a private practice, working with individuals who have experienced loss and trauma, and also provides clinical and management supervision.

Mardoche Sidor, MD is a Harvard-trained Quadruple Board Certified Psychiatrist, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, School of Physicians and Surgeons. He is trained in and taught all the major psychotherapeutic modalities, including and not limiting to CBT, DBT, Family Systems,  and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. He is also the author of 3 books including Journey to Empowerment; Discovering Your Worth; and The Power of Faith. Dr. Sidor has worked both as a primary care physician and as Medical director in three different settings, including as Chief Medical Officer of Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES). He is the Founder and CEO of the SWEET Institute.