The success of self-help

(depth of awareness by asking better questions)

Part One

When it comes to self-help, self exploration, transformation, growth, etc. they all have one thing in common – you get better results by going deeper and asking better questions. So what exactly do I mean by this somewhat obvious and ominous statement?  Let’s dive in and explore it together.

We all remain in the same spot or same mental state when we simply look at our lives in one dimensional terms: I am bored, I am unhappy, I am lonely, I am overweight, I am struggling financially, etc.  What happens when we start to add another dimension to the mix and start asking ourselves targeted questions?  It’s a skill we often overlook. Better or targeted questions are not just the simple plain-Jane questions of ‘why’?  Why am I X, Y, or Z?  Why does this always happen to me?  Why is it hard for me to lose weight? Why can I not find a partner?  What is wrong with me?

A better question would be what choices did I make that lead me here?  Then go deeper:  What decision could I make at this moment, on this one day, in this very hour that would shift my eating or relationship habits?  This small nudge, this little different question will shift your entire outlook. You are taking back your power; you own your life and your experience. Now we are getting somewhere.

Keep going deeper and asking yourself more and better questions.  What alternate activities could I engage in when I am bored or lonely besides hours of television and bags of calories? Since I know that Mr. Wonderful isn’t going to be knocking at the front door, how can I get more involved with other groups or activities?   What skills or interests do I have that would benefit other people less fortunate?  How can I best serve others?  Not only do these questions go deeper, but they become less ‘me-focused’.  Some of the better questions come out of our experiences….

Next week we’ll look at what experience provides us and how we can feel better about challenges we face…..

Part Two

Experience makes us wiser:  How will I feel after I buy those shoes, eat that second sleeve of cookies, or go out ‘just one more time’ with that negative, destructive person?  Our desire for comfort is a strong seductive pull leading up to that moment and often times during the experience, but then what?  Often times the experience of what comes after can be a wonderful deterrent and great learning lesson.  For instance, as we get older we know that the third or fourth drink in the evening is a bad idea because we know how sluggish we will feel in the morning and we value a productive, healthy day more than the extra drink.

The flip side of this experience is to take a moment to be fully aware and remember how you feel after something great has happened.  Even though I feel like procrastinating on this difficult and intimidating project because I hate the work and am not sure if I will do a good job and I just know it will be hard, I also know I will feel productive and successful when it is over.  I have worked on challenging projects before and have figured them out and I felt great about my accomplishment!  I have succeeded before and I can do it again.  The sooner I get started the sooner my feelings of fear will turn to triumph. 

So what is the essence of all of the tons of self-help books, seminars and information that is available?  I will tell you what it is – it’s the A-ha moment.  The book, the chapter, the paragraph, the sentence, the moment, the concept that made you say “a-ha, I see myself in that example”, or “that’s exactly what I do or how I feel when I spend, eat, get into a relationship, or “I get it, I had never thought of looking at my issues that way” and of course, one of my favorites, “It’s not just me, other people have the same issues”, etc.”  Those A-ha moments are the catalyst for growth. They are the pre-amble to asking yourself better questions.  They are a blessing and a gift to help you along your path.

And so as you continue your journey, try this new approach – shift your questions and shift your perspective.  How wonderful to be able to manage this process and pull from your past experiences to move you forward. There is no time like the moment of now to start asking better questions.

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