It’s Time to Question the Questions

Sunshine

“If there are no questions to ponder, then there are no answers to be sought”

In last week’s post, we discussed  how the mirror was helpful in changing outward flaws and imperfections (click here to read it first). However, changing the inward, unseen faults is never an easy task. No one wakes up in the morning and looks forward to saying, “What sort of unpleasant failings and horrible flaws will I find out about myself today?” But many times when working towards personal growth, that’s exactly what we’re doing; uncovering those imperfections, correcting them, and creating a positive outcome so those old behaviors no longer hinder our growth. Although each of our journeys is different, we can learn from how others struggled to overcome and grow from their individual challenges.

One of the most beneficial techniques that aided my personal growth was learning to ask myself questions. However, I realized that many times, I was asking myself the wrong ones. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on altering our surroundings but simply changing our circumstances doesn’t ensure success. The growth really changed when I decided first to point the finger at me rather than blaming something or someone else. Allow me to explain.

One frequently repeated bit of advice is: “Get rid of the negative people in your life”. While it is constructive to be surrounded with positive support, what if getting rid of them only made room for other negative relationships because there was something within us that attracted them? Point the finger in the mirror and see if there is something we can change about ourselves. Perhaps we can work at being more kind or going out of our way to be helpful. There are many solutions but the point is to look at ourselves first. Besides, if a pessimistic or destructive demeanor is lurking within, those with positive energy won’t want to be around us no matter how much we beg them.

The good news is that it’s easier to fix ourselves rather than trying to change others. No doubt it’s more painful because we first must see those faults inside us but the reward always dwarfs any personal discomfort we may have experienced from the growth.

This is where a life coach, therapist, or other type of consultant can be beneficial. Asking these sorts of questions isn’t something we typically learn in school, at home, or on the job. But remember, no matter whom we enlist to help, it is ultimately up to us to determine if the right questions are being asked.

There’s only time to discuss one way of how the questions can be changed but if you have ever pointed the finger at yourself and asked, “what can I change about me?”, please feel free to write it in the comments. We can learn from the experience of others no matter where they are in the world and this is a great opportunity to share yours. Thank you and I always look forward to your comments.

Is There More Than Just A Reflection

Damask mirror “The mirror is excellent at showing us what is on the surface”

This week I received an email from a very dear friend of mine. It was filled with many heart-felt, introspective thoughts; everything from changing outward appearances to the meaning of our own, sometimes insignificant life. It delved into some difficult questions with the most confusing one being “who am I”? Why do we make plans to become someone and then outside circumstances force us in other directions? Then after all our mundane work, perhaps we end up being someone whom we don’t even recognize. This letter was frankly one of the most sincere, self-contemplating letters I had ever seen. As someone who is dedicated to empowering others, my response would be a true test of my own life’s journey.

While reading this email, I envisioned this person standing in front of a mirror and looking directly into the eyes of that reflection while asking and pondering everything written within.  Fighting back the tears which would ultimately accompany these complicated and confounding questions, how does one find answers to what seems the most basic questions which nearly every human being who has walked on this planet has asked?

When we look at ourselves in  the mirror, the changes which need to be made are quite apparent. Our reflection stares back at us for as long as we wish to stand there and critique ourselves. But the unseen flaws are frequently the ones which need changing the most. If those problems and obstacles were apparent and looking right back at us, no doubt we would take immediate steps to fix them. The dilemma is that we can’t always see or don’t know what those difficulties and flaws are. Consequently, when there is no problem, there is no need for a solution.

Do you know someone who has a particular fault or annoying habit and you can’t understand why it’s not glaringly apparent to them? Have you next thought how much more you would like this person if they were able to change that behavior? It is obvious that person doesn’t understand what it is that needs to be changed. Now, have you ever considered that others might be saying the same about you?

As I like to say, sometimes self-growth sucks! There is no other way to put it. We don’t like seeing shortcomings or failings in our own lives but unless we see them for ourselves, the issues will remain undetected. Because they reveal truths about us that we don’t like or are sometimes even ugly, it is always painful. But the growth we experience from working through these issues will constantly outweigh the pain. The best way to search for these faults is continually to ask questions – similar to the ones insightfully composed in the email I received.

The next article will discuss ways to conquer these challenges but for now, keep asking the questions. Write them in the comments below and if you have thoughts on your own empowerment, please feel free to share those as well.

The photo is a decorative mirror provided by Venicio, an architectural art glass company. Thank you and I look forward to your comments.

To Trust Too Much, Two

 

Trust

Painting by Annabella Rharbaoui

 

“If our ability to create new trust in others is influenced only by prior failures, it may be difficult to build strong and lasting relationships in the future”

In last week’s article, the idea of trust as an essential part of life, was contrasted with those times when that trust was lost (click here to read that article). No one looks forward to having their trust broken yet it has happened to everyone more often that we care to remember. But learning how to deal with this type of loss can be helpful in creating and sustaining new relationships.

There is no simple formula; no one-size-fits-all answer which generates a fool-proof solution to this difficult challenge. Also, one approach that worked to overcome mistrust in a particular situation may not be the answer to the next. When we first begin to trust someone, there is always going to be a risk that it might be shattered. It is the nature of how trust works. Trust is a dynamic occurrence and rarely stays stagnant. It either grows, diminishes, or is lost.

The problem which many face is allowing past situations to have too much influence over our future possibilities. If we were hurt by a family member, spouse or significant other, or perhaps a business partner, the resulting pain and devastation is a feeling we don’t wish to experience again. In the next similar circumstance, the uncomfortable memories warn us to be leery and can persuade us not to even try. No doubt we need to learn from past experiences; they help us become wise with insight and understanding. However, it is crucial to remember that one person’s actions don’t always dictate behaviors of everyone else.

In business, we tend to be much  more open to taking risks. In fact, the greater the risk, more often the greater reward. But when it comes to our personal lives, we become much less willing.  Most people who have been crushed by a loss of trust, choose not to risk it again. The question at that point should be “are you allowing your past experiences to limit your future ability to form a great relationship?”

Gaining that trust back is never easy. But rather than asking “will I ever trust again?”, the question should be restated as “am I willing to risk having that trust broken again?” No one wakes up saying, “I can’t wait to lose trust today” but if we choose instead to sit on the sideline of life and let everything pass, there will never be an opportunity to have that trust grow. Each and every journey is different but standing by idly, the scenery will never change.

Allowing ourselves to trust again is an extremely complex situation which includes multiple circumstances, questions, and options. Each situation requires careful consideration of many elements. Although none of us want to relive the dreadful feelings of it being lost, by default it is always a possibility.

Thanks again to Annabella Rharbaoui for the beautiful painting. Find out more about her by clicking here. I look forward to your comments.

You Can Trust Me On This One

 

Our world is great

Painting by Annabella Rharbaoui , titled, “Our World is Great” Find out more information by clicking here

“The need to trust is a vital part of everyday life. One cannot exist without it”.

It’s incredible the amount of impact this 5-letter word has on so many aspects of life. “Trust” is the foundation of many emotions; it is paramount in maintaining the law of the land, and most importantly, a “must have” in relationships.

Even in simple everyday events there needs to be a minimal amount of trust. Whether it is turning on a faucet and knowing potable water will come out or believing the gas gage in your car, there are so many instances occurring which we instinctively trust that it appears we take them for granted. However, the more important matters in our daily activities certainly make us very cognizant that trust is going to play a significant role.

Before a business transaction occurs there must be a some perception that the other person can be trusted. Perhaps there is a coworker with whom you would never want to befriend but can trust that he or she will perform with great ability. Trust is usually the predecessor that differentiates acquaintance from a friend. And before we can love, it is absolutely vital that we first trust.

It is no wonder that in our closest relationships, when that trust is broken, it is a horribly disparaging feeling and the closer the relationship, the more tormenting the grief. The emotional pain can be so overwhelming that it manifests itself physically. For some, it will create an outpouring of tears and wailing while others may suffer in a sea of silence. There is no “right” way to express this most horrid feeling.

Once that line is crossed and there is mistrust in a relationship, there are at least two important questions that can be asked. The first is “Do I want to trust this person again” and the second is “Will I ever be able to trust this person again”. The difficulty in selecting which question may be right for you is that only you are able to know the answer. What choices, compromises, or sacrifices are you willing to make? Does your culture or religion dictate a specific bias in your decision? There are also other mitigating factors such as financial or social status, family circumstances, and a wide array of conditions that influence or sometimes force your decision.

The more daunting question is “Will I ever be able to trust this person again?” In the next post, we will delve more into that question. For now, please leave your comments about both trust and broken trust. Although many of you may be tempted to post about trusting in a Higher Power, this is about trust in another human so please keep that in mind.

Thank you and I look forward to your comments. I will be featuring works of art by Annaella Rharbaoui. Find out more information about her by clicking here