Sometimes it can be nice to feel like you have some kind of road map to help guide you when you’re unsure of where you’re going. Sometimes it’s just nice to take stock and a spend a few minutes thinking about where you are in your journey. Here’s 5 questions that can help bring a little clarity when it’s time for self-reflection.
Am I Happy?
This isn’t really a question you need to ask, you’ll easily be able to feel the answer. The difficulty here is whether or not you’re willing to listen. Sometimes it seems like admitting your unhappy is the easy part, because you have no idea how to fix the problem (or you lie to yourself about what the problem really is). Ignoring the feeling of unease can be easier than facing up to being unhappy with your life.
While honesty when looking at our life is very important, it must be said that we can’t have everything our way so railing against every problem we face will not be an option. Sometimes we need acceptance and understanding, and the ability to forgive and let go, but sometimes there are things we are ignoring that need to be acknowledged in order for a solution to present itself. It might not always be easy, but no one ever said happiness was easy : P
Am I Proud to be Me?
It’s very easy to feel stuck in a situation, helpless even. So many of us feel the victim of our circumstances, and unfortunately this can leave us with an underlying feeling of dejection and discontent. The real culprit behind this is that in 99% of cases we’re not helpless, and we know it. We will make excuses for our inaction and justify our “tolerating” a given situation by finding reasons we can’t change it. There is a simple test to help with this called the mirror test. At the end of every day (or week), look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “am I proud of who I was and how I behaved?”, asking did you do the thing you believed you should, not the thing you had to do.
This ability to be happy with ourselves has huge overflow into the rest of our lives. Being comfortable in our skin enables us to feel proud of what other people have achieved, without having to associate it with/to ourselves. A level of empathy, and even objectivity, comes when you lose that need to relate yourself to situations and therefore distort your reality to protect your interest/ego in those situations.
Am I Making a Difference?
This doesn’t have to mean changing the world (…yet), but on a very deep level we as people need to feel that we are helping or in some way connected to the world around us. Unless you are an enlightened yogi and have forsaken all things of this world, you will need to feel that your being here, that your existence has meaning in the world around you. Denying this may prevent heartache in the short term, but in the long term you’ll wish you’d been open about your desire to be more involved.
Again, this doesn’t have to mean starting a charity, or moving to Africa to help the starving (though both are wonderful ideas). It means, purely, that you feel that you are involved in the world, be that through family, sports, community, or aid work of some kind. Giving will settle the heart.
Am I Moving Forward?
This follows on from the previous question to some extent. In his introduction to the anniversary edition of the Giant Within, Tony Robbins discussed our need for progress. He goes so far as to say that it is one of our prime motivators, the feeling that we are improving in some facet of our lives.
There is some real wisdom in this. Progress imparts a real sense of energy, and a sense of value. While this may seem somewhat superficial initially (insofar as some may feel the need to associate themselves with success in a particular endeavour), having something that you care enough about to put yourself on the line for will leave you feeling invigorated and in control, regardless of the outcome (meaning you are not your success, but striving for something help you to grow). That’s not only invigorating, but soothing for the spirit.
Who Am I?
(picture RDJ in “Tropic Thunder”)
Yes, this is kind of a ridiculous question, but a useful one nonetheless. This isn’t about finding your one true purpose, or about figuring out the sound of one hand clapping while a tree falls in the woods with no-one around to hear it (that’s obvious), this is really a means to remove the excess, to let go of the bullshit.
If you are honest with yourself you’ll see you’re not your car or your job or the image you portray of yourself. Or, maybe you are, and that’s ok too. Asking yourself the question “is this what/who I am?” without the fear of having to live up to the answer can be a revelation in terms of how far we actually are from where we thought we were.
If you do wish to go deeper, you can accept that you’re not your feelings. You’re not ANGRY, you’re not HAPPY, as when these feelings subside you’re still you. So who is that person that’s left? When you realize that all adjectives are really a means of relative categorization as opposed to describing the essence of something, it becomes very difficult to answer this question…
It also becomes painfully clear how susceptible we are to our surroundings. I just received a complement? Oh, I’m happy. I just received an insult… I’m sad/angry. In reality, nothing had changed in either of these situations. You didn’t instantaneously become better or worse. You were the same person you had always been, but your external environment dictated which facade you put up. At some point, it becomes important to see that you aren’t your emotions (or other people’s idea of you for that matter), and that there’s a “you” behind the happy, sad, angry, disappointed, ecstatic, etc.
(…still giggling thinking about RDJ in Tropic Thunder… WHO AM I!?)