Powerful Questions Lead To Powerful Answers
“We hear only those questions for which we are in a position to find answers.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
It was the ancient Greek philosopher Plato who said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He realised that to live a complete life we must examine it truthfully. Knowing this, if we don’t make time to examine our motives, it may catch up to us. Why? Many people are dictated by their unconscious desires instead of making conscious choices. They have a habit of reacting instead of responding to what is taking place in their lives. I’m not suggesting they are entirely to blame, because on some level they are unaware of their behaviour. It is only when a situation does not play out as expected that they evaluate their choices. However, this is not a good recipe for living because reacting to outside events is not empowering, since we are dragged by our circumstances instead of taking life into our own hands. Are you comfortable with this idea that it is not the event or situation that causes our pain and suffering but our response to it?
Albeit, not all the choices we make lead to positive outcomes. Life is an earth school where we learn, develop and rise above our obstacles to discover the essence of our core self. Over the coming paragraphs are six fundamental questions we ought to ask ourselves if we seek to live a life of meaning. To do this, you may wish to journal your thoughts to the questions. Ideally, you will want to revisit them often and note your response to see whether you have observed any changes. In doing so, you become your own mentor, coach and counsellor. This is a process I use when coaching clients, to help them discover their power to navigate life, instead of looking outside themselves for answers. The questions we put forward can be powerful to germinate compelling answers echoed through our everyday choices.
1. Who Am I Becoming?
“Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.”— Euripedes
Who is the person you call “I” reading this now? You might recite your past or ethnicity, or perhaps what you do for a living or whom you’re married to. Whilst I appreciate these things define you, what happens if your marriage dissolves or you lose your job? What is the label used to define you then? The point is, you cannot tie yourself to your past, present or future because the past does not exist, the present results from your past choices and the future is uncertain. What is constant is the core essence of who you are. Who are you becoming is a question that invites you to look deeper into your life’s narrative. The question is built on the understanding you are continually evolving as a human being. This is why some relationships dissolve because one partner outgrows the other. It is natural for people to grow and develop and if they are not growing together, it may be time to part ways or comprise without sacrificing their values and integrity. For example, are you happy with whom you are as a person? If not, what aspects would you change and will this result in the person you want to be? These are difficult questions to answer because they require thoughtful examination.
2. Do I Like Myself?
“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell
Do you like the person you see reflected in the mirror? Many years ago, when I coached people with their health and fitness goals, I recall working with those who had an ambivalent relationship with their appearance. It was difficult from a coaching perspective to get them to see beyond their physical appearance when they were hiring me to help them transform the way they looked. Their first assignment was to examine their relationship with themselves. Do they like who they are? What is their self-talk? Did they experience a difficult childhood including emotional or physical abuse? It’s important to understand the past but not be tied to it. We should be mindful of our past, but not carry the events with us like a door-to-door salesman. As George Orwell once wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” In a similar vein, do you accept yourself irrespective of what took place in your past? I’ve met the gentlest of souls who experienced a tumultuous past, yet they do not define themselves by it. They see the past as a series of events that shaped their life because every experience brings the gift of learning and growth. If we disapprove of ourselves, we cannot possibly like other people since every interaction stems from our relationship with ourselves.
3. What Matters Most? Why?
“In all my affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”—Bertrand Russell
This is my favourite question because until we clarify what we value most, we will spend our life wandering aimlessly. Sadly, many people may never discover what is important to them because they are dictated by other people’s needs. What is of importance in your life right now? Is it: family, health, making money, fame or success, education, environmental or global issues? When we recognise what is important and pursue it, our life becomes replete with meaning since we become purposeful in how we spend our time. The second part of the question asks: why are these things important? Is it because it gives you a sense of meaning? Does it bring value to your life? If you respond by saying: “It makes me feel good,” I would nudge you to go deeper: “Why is it important you feel good about this?” How does feeling good serve you? I realise there are many questions throughout this article that invite you to go deeper into yourself and examine your true motives. They are worth your time and effort, even if it takes an entire year to gain clarity, at least you will have lived intentionally.
4. Whom Do I Need To Forgive To Find Inner Peace?
“We get wise by asking questions, and even if these are not answered, we get wise, for a well-packed question carries its answer on its back as a snail carries its shell.”— James Stephens
Forgiveness is central to our way of life because if we do not forgive ourselves and others, we carry resentment, guilt and blame which discolours our perception of life. Forgiveness is an act of courage, yet the act of forgiving others can be terrifying. If we approach it with an open mind and a soft heart, forgiveness can help us find inner peace. Every one of us has experienced unpleasant events throughout our lives. It is important to forgive ourselves for being involved and release the burden and guilt that accompanies it, irrespective if we consented. I’ve written about How The Power Of Forgiveness Will Set You Free in an earlier article so I won’t go into great detail about it. We ought to make forgiveness an important part of our life because letting go of anything that weighs us down can bring peace of mind and other health benefits. There is no set period when we should forgive someone. I know this first hand because I took over two decades to find the strength to forgive my father for his over-parenting style when I was growing up. It was the single biggest act of courage I undertook and it transformed my life in the years that followed. It was Martin Luther King Jr who once said: “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”
5. Am I Living My Full Potential?
“Life is an unanswered question, but let’s still believe in the dignity and importance of the question.”— Tennessee Williams
How do you know you are living to your fullest potential? I often get asked this question by audience members and coaching clients. My answer is the same: when you are happy and grateful where you are in your life, your potential is complete for the time being. It doesn’t mean you are stagnant since potential is constantly evolving and your growth continues to expand. Some people never realise their potential because they don’t venture outside their comfort zone. Potential is activated when we risk going outside the known to discover our true strength of character. To liken it to a fitness metaphor, many people don’t realise how much they can lift in the gym until they train for months and developed the strength and conditioning in those muscles. With the right training they are capable of the same feats of strength as many strong men or women. Therefore, potential lies dormant until we engage it, otherwise it remains nothing more than a car idling. If you are unhappy not living to your full potential, what actions can you take to move closer to the person you intend to be? They needn’t be bold risks, start small and gather momentum to explore your full potential.
6. Am I Expressing Love In My Life?
“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”—Francis Bacon
Love is the core of our essence and without love we are nothing more than flesh and bones. Understandably, many people open their hearts to love through friendships and romantic relationships and are hurt through betrayal. They shut down and vow to never love again. As you know, the wall you build around you is the same wall that stops others knowing you up close. Love is a risk, but a risk worth taking if you want to experience life fully. As the saying goes: “It is better to have loved and lost then never loved at all.” Whilst a cliché, there is truth to it because exposing ourselves to hurt and humiliation is the greatest act of courage we will undertake. It is like a tight rope artist who walks between two buildings. No matter how many times they have performed the act, in the back of their mind lurks the danger of falling to their death. Nevertheless, this does not minimise their chances of getting out on the tightrope because the performance itself brings joy and excitement to their life. We must explore love in the same capacity as though we have been completely wrung out. For when it comes to the end of our life, we will regret not having opened ourselves to love. Like a sponge full of water, every ounce of love must be poured forth into the universe because the act of loving and giving of ourselves is richer to our life’s experience than being a dry and whittle rose that never bloomed.
If you need more motivation to achieve your goals and dreams, my latest eBook: TRIUMPH: The Art Of Overcoming Challenges, To Achieve Your Goals And Dreams, is now available via Amazon.
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