Forget the horoscopes, the fortune-tellers and even the long-winded wine-down’s with friends; the real answers to your life’s most difficult questions are easier to obtain than you might think. In fact, they’re right there inside of you. Whether you’re looking for answer about your love life, job or that big move, ask yourself these five very simple questions every day and you’ll never have to put your palms out again. (And when you’re done doing that, learn the 5 phrases every smart woman needs in her vocabulary, stat.)
1. Who Am I?
No, you haven’t time-traveled back to philosophy class and there won’t be a graded test at the end but think about it: when was the last time you sat down and really thought about who you are, right here and now? Not the person you were/think you are/have been told you were/want to be, but the person you arein this moment? You know, the one you live with 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If it’s been a while, it’s time for a check-in. Whether it’s writing thoughts, feelings and values in a nightly journal or taking quizzes (I personally love to use the Proust Questionnaire as a way to check-in with myself a couple of times a year), there are a number of ways to get to know and understand yourself better, and make no mistake: it’s not just self-indulgent navel gazing, either. The more we know who we are and what we stand for, the more protective we will be and the easier it will be to identify what and who is right for us, and what and who is not.
2. Are My Actions Reflective Of Who I Am?
Gandhi once said that “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” A simple sentiment that can ignite some complex feelings in those of us who aren’t exactly feeling the serenity of synergy in our lives. The reality is that many of us are walking around in confinement, moving through the motions dictated more by habit than of true consciousness. Perhaps that’s why many of us feel so out-of-sync with our homes, relationships, jobs, friendships and surroundings. When you push yourself to say “yes” instead of “no”, be bullied by fear, continue down a path that feels wrong or force yourself to smile politely when you feel insulted, you betray yourself and send those around you an inaccurate message about who you are, what you think and what your values and boundaries are. See how easy that can derail the many moments that make up a life?
3. What Do I Really Want Out Of This?
OK, I am the queen of starting and stopping the “Paleo” diet. I start it on Monday and rock the Caveman menu until, oh, about Thursday, when I can’t live without some delicious wheat-fix and before I know it, I’m pouring the wine and promising myself that come Monday, I will make a solid commitment. After too many bread-binges and a huge physical argument with my favorite pair of jeans, I had a talk with myself (though, not in public because, well, unless you have your iPhone headphones in, that doesn’t go over so well). “Self,” I asked, “What is it that you really want out of this?” Did I want to binge on bread every few days more than I wanted to look like Jennifer Nicole Lee or did I want the body bad enough to chill on the bread a few weeks and see how I looked and felt trying something new? I asked myself this question, not once, but every single time I had a craving. Guess what? Giving myself the choice – without judgement – was enough to keep me on-track and actually feeling good about my decision. This question can be used in all kinds of situations from sleeping with that sexy-but-oh-so-bad-for-you-ex or choosing to go to bed and save up for that dream vacation instead of blowing up your bank account on cocktails and cabs.
4. What Is The Point Of This?
Confession: Back in the day I was a massive drama queen (those who know me are questioning the “back in the day” opener but I assure you, I was worse then). Whether it was indulging mean-girl snark attacks or personalizing the projections of a boss that had no business in a leadership role, I often found myself in a state of angst over what really amounted to pointless nonsense. After plenty of sleepless nights and scary panic attacks, I made a decision to question my own reactions by forcing myself to come up with a logical and productive reason to stress, worry and participate in various situations and conversations. Yes, sharing information is an important part of relationship healing and building, but allowing your mind to participate in chaotic situations that are ultimately pointless is not only a waste of time, it’s dangerous.
5. Why Can’t I?
I know what it feels to sit next to friends and colleagues who are enjoying experiences and achievements that I hope to enjoy one day. Watching a dear friend play with their new baby while praying the clock keeps ticking long enough to meet someone worthy of my next 50 years (and fathering my baby to boot) used to send me into a “why can’t I have that in my life?” frenzy. But a simple change of emphasis changed everything. One day, I was laying in my bed, thinking about how the lives of most of my friends had all moved through marriage to baby and home while I was still hitting the town four nights a week, enjoying the single life and watching classic movies with my adorable chihuahua. The “why can’t I” theme song came on when it hit me that I was being completely ridiculous. Why can’t I still have that, but allow myself to enjoy more “me” time before I have it? Boom. From that moment on, every time I would find myself feeling sorry for myself I would make myself answer why I could not have what I wanted. Guess what? I never have had a good answer.