There is one very helpful question you can ask yourself as you go through difficult times. One question that just might be the lifeboat you can cling to as you navigate stormy seas. It is simple and effective.
Without further delay, the question is . . . “How can I get my hands on some dark chocolate?” No. Just kidding. The question is . . . “What am I being asked to learn?”
Huh? Most of you are scratching your heads right now. And possibly reaching for some dark chocolate (hey, it’s not a bad idea). Let me explain. When we humbly ask this simple question we open ourselves to learning the answers. We don’t have to know how to live the answer yet. We just need to find out what the answer is.
“What am I being asked to learn?” Maybe you are being asked to learn to say no. Or to be more loving. Perhaps to forgive someone. Or to forgive yourself. You might need to ask yourself the question dozens of times over five years – and you might always get the same answer. To relax. To let someone go. To risk. To trust yourself. And it might be on that last time you ask the question you start to figure out how to do it. I can’t emphasize enough that you don’t need to know how to do the thing you’re being asked to learn yet. You just have to make an effort to identify what it is.
Because growth is a process it can be too much to try to inhabit a new way of being all at once. Unlike the Matrix we don’t just get an immediate download and open our eyes and say, “I know Kung-Fu!” We have to try new habits on, and practice them until they become a part of us. So this question is a step on the road to change. I firmly believe that if you envision where you want to go you will be far more likely to start to move in that direction. This question helps.
The nice thing about thinking in this way is that it shifts your perspective to one where you have some power and agency. You are not simply the victim of circumstance. In fact, there is something for you to learn and when you learn it your problematic situation will shift. And the good news is – you don’t even have to learn it yet! You just start to know that it is there for you to learn. It takes some pressure off while simultaneously pointing the way.
It’s like planning a trip to another country. Being freaked out and scared (a common part of stepping in to any unknown territory) isn’t very helpful. But if you ask yourself the question “what do I have to learn” then you might get the answer, “I need to learn how to speak the local language.” All of a sudden you have direction.
The next time you are hurting, frustrated, confused or sad ask yourself the question. Be open to receiving the answer. Do it humbly and you just may be surprised by the answers you receive from your wisest teacher – yourself.
Learning to trust, forgive, relax, risk, to feel joy or love can be easier with a psychotherapist. I offer a free consultation to all potential clients. Let’s figure out what you’re being asked to learn together.
XY Counseling specializes in working with men, couples and teens. Alexander Warnow, Licensed MFT # 92437, started XY Counseling because he saw a need for men to be supported by other men.