Have you ever felt irritated and confused about everything all at once in your life? Most of us have. We suffer and stress about how hard things are and how unfair life can be. We feel sorry for ourselves, then go on the same as before, waiting for things to change – for things to get better – but they don’t. Why not?
What if, when we’re irritated or puzzled or confused, we started asking questions?
That would require some probing, wouldn’t it? Yes, and that can be scary: intimidating, even. But it’s a good first step to unraveling the puzzle at hand, and it might be necessary to examine your motives, patterns, cause-and-effect, history and who-knows-what-else. Unless you get inside the problem at hand and sort out the individual components to find the stumbling blocks, then it’s impossible to move the blocks out of the way. And that’s just part of the process.
What about asking what you want, or how you want your life to be instead of how it is now? But what if you’re not clear about what you want instead of the way things are? It can be a really hard question to answer.
When I asked one of my clients what she wanted she said she really didn’t know. She had always done the next thing that was expected of her by her parents, husband and children and she really didn’t know what she wanted or needed for herself. The next appointment, however, she came in with a photo she had taken of a small lake surrounded by evergreen trees. The lake was clear, blue-green and bathed in sunlight, but in one foreground corner of the picture, there were large boulders and gnarly tree roots all shaded and dark. She felt like she had been in the shadows, stumbling over those roots and boulders but she wanted to be clear and calm and full of light, like the lake. Wow, what a vision! It hadn’t come to her right away; it took a while to let go of all the other issues pressing in on her, but she realized that if she could find stillness and clarity, everything else would sort itself out.
Often your first response to “What do you want” isn’t really the whole answer. We humans are complex creatures and we put layer upon layer of assumptions and expectations onto the mask we present to the world, and even to ourselves. Sorting through those characters and bringing them into awareness allows us to choose to keep some and drop others and to move forward with conscious intention. The answers come through asking good questions to reveal your untested assumptions, deepest values and emerging interests, and those, in turn, often lead to new opportunities and creative steps that can move you along in directions you find interesting, exciting and satisfying.
What do you want in your life? How do you find the questions that reveal satisfying answers? Share your thoughts below.