Creating lasting change only begins to happen when you become aware of limiting / negative patterns which keep showing up in your life, the ways in which you attach meaning to them, and more importantly, how you feel about them.
Ask a better question
The first step to better awareness is to start by asking better questions, as the saying goes, ‘if you want a better answer, ask a better question’. Truly insightful questions cannot be answered with a binary ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; they demand difficult reflection and look to go beyond the surface, they ‘peel the onion’ to a deeper layer to reveal core issues rather than superficial symptoms.
Here are some questions to help you consider these points and, I hope, also bring this alive for you:
- On a scale of 1-10, how happy and fulfilled would you say you are in your life? Perhaps split this up into different themes, such as your relationships, your career, your sense of purpose and spirituality and even the amount of fun and adventure you have in your life.
- What are the predominant emotions you experience on a day-to-day basis? Put these into two categories of fear-based or love-based.
- Are you playing small and avoiding things in life for fear of being judged or out of a fear of failure?
- Where is your life out of balance and what are the consequences of this for you and those around you?
- What dreams in life have you shelved or given up on?
Dig Deeper - Start to Peel the Onion
The next step is to reflect on the answers to your questions and to dig still deeper to see what is going on behind them.
Ask yourself right now how you would describe the emotions you felt as you read the above questions and started to formulate responses:
- Did you feel fear-based emotions of regret, frustration, anger, resentment, disappointment, sadness, and self-pity?
- Or did you feel more anabolic emotions of gratitude, pride, fulfilment, a sense of achievement, love, inner peace, happiness, or joy?
- Where did you feel these emotions in your body and how would you describe the energy that you felt?
- If you became caught up in a conversation or monologue in your head, how true were the conclusions you reached?
Pain vs Pleasure
When you start to explore the above questions and, if you are brave enough, ask more searching questions, you will quickly start to become much more aware of three things, probably in this sequence:
- How do the answers to these questions make me feel and do I like these feelings or not?
- What was the conversation like in my head when I started to reflect on these questions? Was it a dialogue with my alter-ego, or a monologue, and how would I describe the tone, pace, language, and content to someone else?
- What are the consequences of thinking and feeling as I do when I reflect on the answers to these questions?
In life, the majority of us ‘bump along’ somewhat unconsciously, never really pausing to reflect on how we feel about our lives and whether we want to change anything or not. Some of us may also believe and accept that, ‘this is just how it is’, or words to that effect, and in doing so relinquish control of our lives to some greater force beyond us.
One thing is for sure though: we are all far more likely to become aware of how we truly feel about our lives and make profound changes when we experience real pain. We all have different tolerance for pain, but we also ALL have our own threshold. When we hit this leverage point, it’s nature’s way of forcing us to confront our problems, ask better questions and make change a MUST.
Making change a MUST - Feather, brick, truck
In my coaching I find that I almost always end up using the ‘feather, brick, truck’ metaphor to bring this concept alive. In essence, the metaphor reveals how the lessons we need to learn in life come to us with increasing intensity.
Firstly, our lessons arrive as a tickling feather where our body and our intuition whisper to us, quietly telling us to pay attention to what is going on inside and to ask better questions.
If we ignore the feather(s), eventually we will get a brick and this will hurt! A brick can come under many guises, but it usually appears as a painful episode such as the loss of a job, a relationship that goes wrong, an episode of poor health, an accident, or some other form of wake up call.
Most people are smart enough to pay attention to the brick and make change a must at this point, but if you are stubborn and possibly also masochistic, it may take a truck to get you to your leverage point. This is always a life-changing event which literally throws you to the floor, knocks you flat and forces you to make change a MUST!
The Equation for life: Awareness -> Choice -> Action
The point here is that we, as human beings, are capable of becoming more aware, of asking better questions, and then making better choices which can be translated into real action.
However, there are also good reasons why most of us do not choose this path. If you would like to learn more about this, you are invited to join me either 1:1 or with a group of like-minded individuals in my Online Academy where I will take you on a journey that explains why this happens and what you can do about it.
Feel free to share your thoughts, key takeaways from this post, and what you would like to see more of in the comments below.
Until next time!