Z is for Zion

Z

 

Before I get into this last post of the A to Z challenge, I have to get a few things off my chest.

  1. This has been a blast for me.

  2. I have way more ideas than letters in the alphabet and it is really hard for me to end without writing about them all.

  3. Because I designed this blog to be about the Enneagram as it relates to parenting and children, I intend to return to that topic…

  4. …which means I may never write about these ideas that are floating around in my mind.

  5. That is a very frustrating situation for me to grapple with.

  6. I’ll be okay.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Moving on to today’s post–

Z is for Zion. I found one definition of Zion that doesn’t contain the words Israel, Palestine or Jewish. That definition is: Utopia.

When I picture an ‘Enneagram Utopia,’ I imagine a world where people’s Egos are aligned with the Big Picture Truth about Who We Really Are.

Quick and relevant aside–What I love about the Enneagram is that it attends to both the psychological and the spiritual aspects of being human. Here’s what I mean:

If we only address our psychological issues, we end up understanding why we do what we do and can use words like ‘family of origin’ and ‘boundaries’.  We may be able to change some of our behaviors that cause us trouble, but we have no larger sense of assurance, peace or purpose.  It’s easy to get stuck in self-centeredness.

However, if we only address our spiritual issues, we end up being able to meditate for six hours straight and use words like ‘enlightenment’ and ‘ego-transcendence.’  We may be able to breathe better than our friends, but we still go home and yell at our kids or procrastinate to the point that our co-workers want us fired, because we haven’t dealt with our own personal stumbling blocks. It’s easy to get stuck in irrelevance.

The Enneagram attends to both, assuming we move quickly past the personality-typing aspect of it and begin to stretch and expand out from there, by helping us understand where our behaviors and misguided perspectives come from AND by giving us hints, methods and really good reasons to loosen up our beliefs about ourselves and about the world.

Therefore, and back to my point, when I imagine an Enneagram Utopia (Zion), I think about people living free from reactivity (psychological healing) AND feeling, knowing, experiencing the Bigger Picture Truth of Who We Are (spiritual healing.)  And if we’re lucky, we’ll find a way to get Marvin Gaye’s kind of healing in there too.

Here’s what I mean for each type. In the first two columns, I’ll try to use just one word for each category so it’s easy to take it with you throughout the day. In the third column, I’ll expound.

  What it feels like when we experience the Bigger Picture Truth of Who We Are.  Things to practice all day every day to get some freedom from reactivity. What I mean in case one word’s not enough
One Serenity (All is well) Welcome imperfection Know that imperfection within yourself and the world is inherent. Allow this to be the case. Practice releasing yourself from the job of righting the world.
Two Humility (I’m loveable just as I am) Self-care Ask yourself what you need and honor that. Look around for the people who love you and care for you (imperfectly) and let that in.
Three Authenticity (I am who I want to be) Good-enough effort Pour your heart and energy into what you truly love and do the rest just good-enough.
Four Wholeness (I was born complete.   Nothing in me is broken.) Action Allow your feelings to propel you forward into right action rather than holding you down, keeping you stuck in the delusion of disconnection.
Five Abundance (I will always have all I need) Embodiment From a place of being in tune with your body, engage with your life, practicing the perspective that you have no less than/just as much as anyone else does to navigate the world. See what happens when you give of yourself to your life.
Six Courage (I can walk through fear and do other hard things) Relax Release yourself from having to manage the future by trusting that you can handle anything that may or may not come to pass. In the meantime, relax into what is happening right now.
Seven Contentment (What I want is right here) Enough Pay attention to what is going on within and around you. Drop down into your body and experience deeply. Stay with it longer than you want to.
Eight Vulnerable (It’s okay to let my guard down) Right energy/intensity Practice letting your intensity fluctuate depending on the needs of the situation. Try to tone down your energy and ramp it up at will.
Nine Balance (The center of it all is peaceful) Tune in Pay attention to what you think, feel and want. Share that with people. Participate in your life with your whole self, wide awake.

 

 

Y is for Yearnings

YOh, to be loved, significant, secure, and in control.

What we wouldn’t give to be competent, to have peace of mind, to be good, valuable and fulfilled.

 

These are the desires of our hearts (I only call them yearnings to have something for ‘Y’, but they are commonly known as desires.  I’m cheating.)

Some of us desire all those things.  All of us desire some of those things.

What gives us our unique personalities is the particular connection we have to one of those things.

Here they are by type:

One: To be good, to have integrity

Two:  To be loved

Three:  To be valued

Four:  To be significant

Five:  To be capable and competent

Six:  To be secure and certain

Seven:  To be fulfilled and happy

Eight:  To be in control and strong

Nine:  To be at peace

 

How our desires shape us

The theory that makes the most sense to me, as a child development and infant mental health specialist and a therapist, who spends a lot of time learning about how people and babies tick, is that we come into this world holding one of these desires (goodness, love, value, meaning, competence, security, joy, strength or peace) dearest to our hearts or in the forefront of our minds. If you can picture each of these desires as one side of a nine-sided crystal, it is as though we each choose a side through which to see ourselves and the world, the side that is most special or most important to each of us.

Then what happens?

We are born into these human bodies and this physical world and bam, we get blind-sided by hunger pangs, bright lights or breasts that are hard to get milk out of.  We get left alone or we hit ourselves in the face with our own little out-of-control fists.  We are overwhelmed by all there is to see and smell and touch and hear.  Suddenly, things aren’t as rosy as we might have imagined.  As soon as we leave the womb, we discover we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

Because we are looking at life through our one side of the crystal, so to speak, the way we interpret these assaults is to assume that the goodness, love, value, meaning, competence, security, joy, control or peace isn’t here.  We then come to a tragically misguided conclusion:  What I want isn’t here, and it must be because there’s something wrong with me.

Therefore–

–here it comes—

–we decide we must create or manufacture the goodness, love, value, meaning, competence, security, joy, control or peace for which we so desperately long.

Our innocent desires then become preoccupations and we spend our lives trying to create what we want inside and outside ourselves like this:

Because Ones have lost touch with their inherent goodness, they try to make themselves and other people good and right.

Because Twos have forgotten that they are inherently loveable just as they are, they try to earn love by being the most helpful and the most needed person they can be.

Because Threes have forgotten that they are inherently valuable, they try to prove that they are the best at whatever they set out to do, thereby impressing others with their value.

Because Fours no longer believe they are whole and significant just as they are, they try to be different enough to be special.

Because Fives have lost touch with their innate wisdom and competence, they try to learn and understand, gathering knowledge they think they need to navigate life.

Because Sixes have forgotten that they can trust their own internal guidance, they try to find certainty by anticipating what might go wrong and creating plans to head bad things off at the pass.

Because Sevens have lost touch with the intrinsic joy in life, they chase the next new experience, looking always toward the future for stimulation and fulfillment.

Because Eights have forgotten that there is strength in vulnerability, they push up against life to feel their own power and vitality.

Because Nines have lost touch with the natural balance in life, they try to keep the peace by ignoring their own conflicting thoughts and feelings.

What can we do about this travesty?

Pause.

Breathe.

Discover within yourself what you are really yearning for. See what it is like to remember that the small, ego version of that may or may not exist in any given moment or with any given person.  However, the bigger, Universal experience of that longing is available for you no matter what and no matter when.

Relax into that.  Breathe some more.

X is for Xeno-

XI was working so hard to make Xylophone relate to the Enneagram in some way, but I couldn’t t do it so I grabbed the dictionary and found Xeno-.

Xeno-: Strange; foreign; different

I.e.: xenophobia: a fear of strangers.

buyessayscheap.com

buyessayscheap.com

As humans, we have big issues with xeno-things.

Some of us, because of our personalities, are intrigued with new and different. However, our human brains, regardless of our personality, are programmed to surround ourselves with the familiar and look askance at the unfamiliar. It’s biologically protective.

If we didn’t have those tendencies, we wouldn’t gravitate toward reliable food sources or safe places to shelter ourselves.  We’d probably fall off a lot of cliffs in pursuit of whatever’s over the edge and be eaten while trying to make friends with tigers and poisonous reptiles.

Clearly, the innate fear of xeno-things can be helpful, but it can also limit us in probably just as many ways as it protects us.

One of the things the Enneagram does is make the unknown known. It makes other people, who see the world very differently than we do, understandable.

This is one of the most important uses of the Enneagram system. It gives us maps to ourselves so we can get to know our own territory easier, faster and more efficiently, but it also gives us maps to other people’s even more foreign territory.

Example:

For whatever reason, my life is full of Sixes. Some are blood relations and one I picked myself. If you know Sixes and Sevens, you might imagine we can drive each other crazy. The Seven pushes the envelope, leaving the Six to come unglued with fear about what might happen. The Six’s attempts to keep things safe, make the Seven want to run screaming off the edge of that cliff I mentioned before.

However, we also do each other a great service because a natural balance can occur if we allow each other to influence us in positive ways. The Six keeps the Seven from chasing every butterfly that flits by, which helps the Seven settle down to focus on the most meaningful stuff. Meanwhile, the Seven encourages the Six to try new things which are highly likely going to work out just fine and will probably even be fun.

However, there’s something even more important than the fact that the Sixes in my life help me weed out my bad ideas and I help them trust themselves and experience courage.  As my understanding of what it’s like for them deepens, so does my patience and compassion for them when they’re stuck in anxiety and not able to trust themselves.

Having listened to lots of people on the panels in Narrative Tradition classes, I have come to understand, intimately, what life feels like for each type, what they most struggle with and how deep that struggle runs. I have had tears in my eyes at one time or another as I imagine how hard it must be…

…for a Five to come out of her shell and engage with the social world

…for a Nine to realize how sad he is that he hasn’t been living his own life and he’s running out of time

…for a Three to admit that nothing that she’s done up to this point, no matter how well she’s fooled the world, has meant a damn thing to her and how empty that makes her feel

…for a Two who is bone-tired from doing for other people and wants more than anything for someone to swoop in and take care of her for once.

I could go on and on.

I think I will.

It has touched me to imagine how painful it must be…

…for an Eight to be so lonely as a strong woman in a world that seems like it can’t handle her intensity

…for a One who wants more than anything to stop feeling so angry all the time, but she can’t help how strongly she feels about the injustices in the world

…for a Four who feels so deeply about things that he becomes overcome with emotion and can’t find anyone who relates to him on that level

…for my daughter, a Six, who has shown signs of self-doubt since she was 16 months old

…and for myself and my fellow Sevens who ache deeply at the seemingly unnecessary amounts of pain that people have to endure in this lifetime.

Much power comes from a deep understanding of the people in our lives. I’m very grateful to the Enneagram for helping make the xeno- in other people less xeno-.

W is for Wings

W

 

Learning about the Wings adds a little more to the map of our personality

 

The Wings are the two personality styles on either side of our core style. So a Two can have a Three wing or a One wing. That means that the person with a core personality of a Two might have either a little more focus on right/wrong and be a little more critical like a One or be a little more ambitious and out to impress and get things done like a Three.

Experts and researchers agree that most people have a dominant wing to our personality. However, some people don’t seem to have a very strong leaning in either direction and still others seem to lean both ways. If you know enough about the two styles on either side of your own, you can get a sense of whether you relate more to one or the other or whether you tend to act a bit more like one than the other.

It may just be a case of learning that wings exist, which then leads to the realization that, “Oh now I get why, even though I’m an Eight, I have this strong drive to be doing new and exciting things all the time. That must be my Seven wing.”

Understanding the wings also helps people clarify their core personality style when they are first trying to figure that out. They may relate to two types that sit next to each other on the Enneagram symbol, but realize that one is more ‘who they are’ than the other.

Think about a large family. Let’s say the mom is from India and the dad is Japanese. The children will not appear 50/50 Indian and Japanese. Some will look 85% Indian, some will look 85% Japanese while others will have random and arbitrary amounts of each ethnicity in their appearance, behaviors and preferences.

In the same way, all Fours look different. Some have more ambition, a stronger drive to be productive, and more need to impress (like Threes). Others will be more introverted and more heady (like Fives). While still others will have some combination of both.

This topic is something to play with. Do you feel more connected to one wing or the other or both or neither? How does that play out in your life? What can you learn from the things that help those other types?

I find that, when people get stuck in a pattern of one of the wing styles, it is usually easier to relax the habit or tendency of that wing type than it is to relax the inclinations of the core type. So enjoy how much easier it is to find freedom in the areas of your life that are affected by your wing or wings.

Okay, one quick example:

I am a Seven and I have more Six in me than Eight, (though there’s definitely some Eight in there too.) When it comes to the self-doubt I get sometimes, which I identify as part of my Six wing as opposed to my core personality style, it is easier to recognize than my ingrained Seven habits because it is so different than my normal personality structure. Sevens don’t tend to get caught up in self-doubt the way I can. Once I recognize the self-doubt, I remember what Sixes are encouraged to do, which is to trust their internal sense of what they know to be true. Because trusting myself is a much more solid internal feature for me as a Seven than it is for a Six, it isn’t that hard to turn my attention inward and let go of the self-doubt. It also fills me with compassion for Sixes because I know that they struggle with self-doubt to a much greater degree than I do and they have significantly more difficulty trusting themselves.

See what you notice about yourself. What do you think your wing type is? What do you know about that type that you might struggle with? What gifts of that type do you bring to the world? I’d love to hear!

V is for Virtues

VVirtues are the antidote for Passions. If passions are us at our worst, Virtues are us at our best.

But I want to caution those of you who read with an eye out for ‘how-to’s’. Passions and virtues do not imply how to do anything. There aren’t any downloadable instructions at the end of this post.

I swear I’m not holding anything back when I write about them without telling you how to do more of one and less of the other.

They are simply layers of the map and maps are not how-to’s but guides and cheat sheets.

Our Virtues and Passions are more like states of mind than things to do or not do.

As a Seven, I can be stuck in my gluttonous (passion) state of mind where I fear I won’t get enough or I’ll miss the best thing.  Or I can be in my sobriety (virtue) state of mind where I am present to what’s going on without a need to alter it in any way.

Passions and Virtues are just more things to observe, because from that place of observation, we gain the power of choice to do things differently.

The more aware I am of my state of mind, the more I choose to relax the habit and question what’s really going on.  This brings whatever’s going on beneath the surface to the surface, which affords me the power to choose how I will respond to situations.

The result of all that, for me, is that I spend more time reaping the riches of any given moment and less time grasping for bigger, better, more.

So without further delay, allow me to introduce to you these fabulous Virtues of ours:

OneSerenity—Rather than railing against things, you experience a calm acceptance and peace.

 

 

 

revjeffsermons.blogspot.com

revjeffsermons.blogspot.com

TwoHumility—You are aware of your capabilities and your limitations, what you have to give and what you need from others without pride or shame.

 

 

ThreeAuthenticity—You express yourself truthfully, letting the world and yourself see who you really are.

 

 

 

Four: Equanimity—You realize that we are all whole beings, yourself very much included.  You are not lacking or missing anything.

 

 

 

isveda.pixnet.net

isveda.pixnet.net

Five: Non-attachment—You release holding on to what you believe are limited resources and instead, only take what’s needed and let the rest go. This applies to knowledge, emotional energy and social interactions.

 

 

 

soschicagoland.com

soschicagoland.com

Six: Courage—You face your fears and move forward with faith or trust in your own internal resources.

 

 

 

rockymountaininsight.org

rockymountaininsight.org

Seven: Sobriety—You are present to things as they are, not needing to seek more than or avoid  what is right in front of you.

 

 

 

Eight: Mercy or Innocence—You respond from your heart without the need to prove yourself or control others or the situation.

 

 

 

Nine: Engagement—You awaken to yourself and act from that aliveness.

U is for Uh-oh and Umbrellas (Enneagram Game)

UI wrote a post for the letter ‘U’ about the Unconscious. Then I realized, as I went to revise it and get it ready to shove out into the world, that I meant Subconscious, not Unconscious. (Shouldn’t therapists know the difference between these things?)

My post was about bringing the hidden motivating material in our below-ground minds to our above-ground minds, from unaware to aware, so we could have more say in our responses to life.

the-office.com

the-office.com

The Subconscious is situated, metaphorically, downstairs from the Conscious, so it’s not all that hard to bring things up from there, though it’s not a pretty place.  It’s down in the unfinished cellar where guests don’t go and cobwebs don’t get feather-dusted out, but it is a place of great power.  Down there, we store stuff like the real reasons we do things, feelings we don’t want to deal with, perspectives we are ashamed to have, beliefs about ourselves we find intolerable, etc.

I heard Russ Hudson, an Enneagram teacher, say something about the Subconscious being the part of us that we know nothing about but that runs our whole show.

artsci.case.edu

artsci.case.edu

 

The Unconscious, on the other hand, is more like a long-term storage facility for permanent structures like instincts, biological drives and our earliest memories. Not much is going to change there even if we did bring it into the light of day.

 

 

 

Based on all that, it seems it would behoove us to learn more about that Subconscious, yes?

But ‘U’ isn’t for Subconscious.

‘U’ is now for Umbrella, and we’re playing another Enneagram game.

In case you haven’t seen this game before, here are the rules:

The Enneagram game originated in my own mind. Its object was solely for me to entertain myself by coming up with what I think each personality type might say or do in response to some situation or question.

Now that I’m making the game public, I have given a little more thought to each type’s possible reaction which has made it even more interesting. What will push this over the edge into pure joy would be for you to write back and tell me how your Enneagram style reacts to the question or topic.  In other words, correct me, enlighten me.

**Please know that I am very aware that we are all unique individuals. Much more than our personality style goes into how we react to the world at any given moment. There’s no way I could play this game without stereotyping, so know that this is just for fun, not for serious. If there is a kernel of truth in some of these, that will be a bonus. Mostly, I hope you allow this to get your mind going and write back with another reaction that your type might have.**

And here we go.

Me: Mr. or Ms. Personality Type, if you could use an Umbrella to protect yourself from any kind of weather, not just rain, when would you use it?

kottke.org

kottke.org

One: I’d use my umbrella to protect myself from acid rain and any other weather that results from our irresponsible behavior as a society.

Two: I’d put my umbrella up over my friends whenever they look like they have a black cloud hanging over their heads.

Three: I’m going to go ahead and use it to protect myself from rain that might ruin my hair or outfit.

Four: I’m a little different than everyone else, I guess, because I’d use it to protect myself from the run-of-the-mill, mild, sunny days. I love Mother Nature’s dramatic effects.

Five: I can’t think of any weather I need to protect myself from. I find the weather full of interesting phenomena.

Six:   I’d love to put up my umbrella every time there’s a Watch or Warning or Advisory.

Seven: I want to put an umbrella up anytime someone or something rains on my parade.

Eight: I don’t need an umbrella for protection, but if you’re asking what weather I hate, I’d say drizzle. Either rain or don’t rain. None of that drizzle crap.

Nine: I’m fine with any kind of weather.

T is for Toil, Tinker or Tackle (Enneagram Game)

TI’m taking a break from all that deep thinking for two days in a row. Phew.

Today’s is another Enneagram Game. In case you missed the rules on the ‘J’ day, here they are again:

The Enneagram game originated in my own mind. Its object was solely for me to entertain myself by coming up with what I think each personality type might say or do in response to some situation or question.

Now that I’m making the game public, I have given a little more thought to each type’s possible reaction which has made it even more interesting. What will push this over the edge into pure joy would be for you to write back and tell me how your Enneagram style reacts to the question or topic.  In other words, correct me, enlighten me.

**Please know that I am very aware that we are all unique individuals. Much more than our personality style goes into how we react to the world at any given moment. There’s no way I could play this game without stereotyping, so know that this is just for fun, not for serious. If there is a kernel of truth in some of these, that will be a bonus. Mostly, I hope you allow this to get your mind going and write back with another reaction that your type might have.**

Here we go:

Me: Tell me, Mr. or Ms. (Personality Type), if you had a Task in front of you, which word would best describe how you would approach it? Would you be more likely to Toil, Tinker or Tackle?

One: Toil

Two: Tackle

Three: Tackle

Four: Tinker (or Toil?   Not sure about Fours on this one.)

Five: Tinker

Six: Toil

Seven: Tinker

Eight: Tackle

Nine: Tinker

S is for Songs

SHere are two songs for each type. The first song represents the lower side or the struggles for that personality, and the second song represents the higher side or the gifts of the type.

Click on the name of the song to listen to the youtube video and see lyrics.

Enjoy! And please add to this. It was a blast trying to find them all, but what did I miss?

One:

Two:

Three:

Four: (so many to choose from!!!)

Five:

Six:

Seven:

Eight:

Nine:

 

 

 

R is for Red Flags

R

 

 

When we react to the world in the same, fear-based, ego-driven ways, over and over and over again, the same things tend to happen.

We go in and out of feeling mad, ashamed, anxious, lonely, hurt, victimized, powerless, controlling, distant, arrogant or self-righteous.

Eww.

However, quitting our reactions so we can feel better, so we can feel things like freedom, peace, joy, love, acceptance, connection, compassion, generosity, intuition and worthiness is one of the hardest things a human being can do.  Two reasons for that:

1.  Quitting our reactive habits is like letting our armor drop down around our ankles. The armor we believe we need to survive.  Tough to convince our Will to Live or our Will to Remain Socially Acceptable that that’s a good idea.

2.  We can’t see our habits very well, so even if we are the bravest of the brave, it’s hard to know what to quit.

projectaware.net

projectaware.net

Quitting smoking is as simple (didn’t say easy) as not picking up a cigarette.  We know what a cigarette looks like and where we can get some.  We don’t suddenly find ourselves popping out smoke rings from our  mouths wondering how the hell we got there again.  People don’t get struck smoking.  If we’re smoking again, it’s because we picked one up, put one end in our mouths, lit the other, and breathed in deeply.

Quitting our habits of reacting to life isn’t so simple.  We have to know what we’re quitting.

Which brings me to the letter ‘R’.

loveforsuccessfulwomen.com

loveforsuccessfulwomen.com

Red Flags get our attention, and when it comes to breaking habits, our attention needs getting,

The map of the Enneagram becomes like a cheat sheet for figuring out what red flags we might see in our emotions, our thoughts and our bodily sensations that let us know we’re headed in the wrong direction.

Here are some of the Red Flags (common for Sevens) that I’ve trained myself to be on the lookout for within myself:

I get antsy in my body, I want to get up and move or escape. My thoughts start bouncing around. I think about future activities. I get angry at other people for standing in my way of getting what I want.  I’m thinking about anything but what’s happening around and in front of me.

I use those Red Flags to my advantage. Every time they flap loud enough to get my attention, I pause, take a breath and observe what’s going on.

Example:

I am with a group of people and having a hard time focusing on the conversation I’m in.  My abdomen is sort of fluttery.  My body wants to run.  I’m preoccupied and wishing I were somewhere else.  Instead of listening to the person in front of me, I’m trying to hear what the people nearby are talking about.

I’m conversation-surfing.  Again.

All Red flags.

I ask myself what’s going on that I’m not present to the person in front of me.

I realize I’m irritated with and judgmental toward this person.

Another red flag.

Why?

Because if I listen to them, I might miss a more entertaining conversation somewhere else.

Ah-hah. I see myself in action. Even though I feel these feelings quite strongly in that moment, I’ve learned enough to know that if I do this all night, I will leave this party feeling unsatisfied and empty, not to mention that I’ll probably convince the people I’m talking to that I’m either rude or vapid.

If, on the other hand, I keep questioning the Red Flags, they will eventually lead me back to the truth.

If I’m going to quit my habit of conversation-surfing and avoid leaving the party having missed out on what I was so desperately looking for the whole time I was there, I need to ground myself in the moment and tune in to the person I’m with.

I might find that there is something I’m enjoying about this conversation with this person.  If I stay with it, it ends up not mattering what else is happening in the room.

If I’m not enjoying anything there, from a place of presence, I can find some socially acceptable way to move on.

If I do this out of a grounded and conscious choice rather than a desperate need to free myself from the bondage of a boring conversation, I won’t be bouncing from one conversation to another in hopes of finding the most entertaining people in the room.  I will, instead, get to experience each conversation for what it is, so the good ones will really sink in.

Red Flags are our friends.  They say:  Pay attention! You’re doing it again.  What can you do instead that is more likely to get you what you’re really looking for?

So tell me, what are the red flags you’ve already learned to watch for?  Does this blog post make you think of any you hadn’t seen before?

 

Q is for Questions

Q

 

If someone said to me:  Let’s say you are stranded on a deserted island and can only take one tool for your emotional and mental well-being, what would you take?

I would say, You mean in addition to the one food, the one book and the one person I’ve already been asked to pick?

hypethemovies.wordpress.com

hypethemovies.wordpress.com

They would say, Yes.

Then I would say, I would take with me the tool of Questioning, sometimes known as Inquiry. Then I would sneak on Observation when no one was looking because Observing doesn’t take up much space.

Questioning comes right after Observing, both of which serve Distancing or Disidentification.

The Questioning I’m talking about comes from a state of curiosity, not judgment.

We aren’t asking ourselves what the hell is wrong with us. We are asking ourselves questions to gain more understanding, insight, distance, and clarity.

Light Bulb1Sometimes the Questioning leads to acceptance, new ideas, new perspectives, or compassion for ourselves or other people. Sometimes the answers lead to more questions. Sometimes the Questions don’t seem to have answers.

Here are some I use a lot: (BTW, these kinds of questions are often easier to answer by writing or talking to someone else.)

  • What would it be like if I knew the truth in this situation?

 

  • If I gather up all the fear/shame/judgment and put it all aside, just for the briefest of moments, what’s left? How do I feel about the situation if there’s no fear/shame/judgment? (You are welcome to allow the fear/shame/judgment back in any time, just move it out of your way for a sec so you can answer the question.)

 

  • What if it were true that something bad might happen/I don’t matter/no one supports me? What then?

 

  • What do I really want out of this situation? Not what I’ve been telling myself I want, but what do I really want underneath it all?

 

  • What’s the difference between what my ego believes about this situation and what my higher self/true self knows?

 

One last thought. This isn’t meant to be an exercise of constant and neurotic self-examination. It’s meant as a tool to use when you think about it. You can ask yourself these questions and ones like them in positive, negative or neutral moments. They don’t take long if you ask them on the run, but you can spend more time with them if you want a friend to help you with something bothersome. It can be quite illuminating if you can train a friend to just ask you questions without trying to fix the situation. Takes the pressure off our friends too.

One last question for you—what is it like to try questioning yourself like this?

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