Wanna have a bad day? Ask yourself a bad question.
How you shape your day, your behavior, your mood, and to a greater extent—your life, comes down to a series of questions. For years, I woke up with one question:
What needs to get done today?
Before I even opened my eyes, before I even got out of bed, before I even knew if it was, indeed morning, or simply 1:00 anxiety-induced-insomnia-wake-up—I asked myself this question.
This question started a series of events. First, it sent my mind on a stress-spree. (As if my mind were running through the halls of my life, just putting random stressful objects into a shopping cart.) Second, it started a landslide of feelings of unworthiness, apathy, and general overwhelm. Third, it focused me primarily on what wasn’t done, what needed to be done, and where I was lagging. Before I even opened my eyes, I was a hamster on a wheel. And the wheel was always turning faster than I could run.
The questions you ask yourself hold power. They shape your thoughts, your moods, your behavior.
Here are five questions that you need to stop asking yourself right now.
Stop asking: How am I going to make money? This question is kind of like the, “What needs to be done?” question. It’s panic inducing and has a behind-the-ball feel to it. This question focuses you on chasing a future, rather than on being present in the here and now. Instead ask: What I want to do? This question brings your focus back to you and your present experience. It reminds you that your desires are important and worthy. It helps gives your life back to you.
Stop asking: How am I falling behind? Whether it’s with money, body, food, social media, laundry, or anything else. This question never makes you feel good. Instead ask: How do I want to show up? Again, notice the question brings you back to your desires, back to yourself. It puts you back in the drivers seat of your life.
Stop asking: Where/how am I powerless? You will always be able to make a case for powerlessness—but don’t be seduced into this story. It’s toxic and not helpful. By focusing on your limitations, you render yourself incapacitated. Instead ask: Where/how am I able to influence? By focusing on your ability to influence, you’ll bring your attention to the specific points of empowerment in your life. Rather than feeling like a victim, you’ll build inner strength to effect change.
Stop asking: Why is this so hard? When you ask this question, life becomes impossibly difficult. This question goes nowhere but straight to suffering. Instead ask: How strong am I willing to become? Here’s the deal: things are sometimes difficult, and annoying, and painfully uncomfortable. Change is hard. Having a great life? It’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable. So change the focus to how strong you’re willing to become. Flex your inner strength, stand up and own your life.
Stop asking: Why can’t I (fill-in-the-blank)? Whether you’re asking, Why can’t I save money? or Why can’t I lose weight? or Why can’t I find love? or anything else—this question is poison. It leads you down a road filled with shameful thoughts. It leaves you feeling unworthy, unfit, and broken. Instead ask: How will I (fill-in-the-blank)? Assume you’re stronger than you think you are. Assume that you’re more skilled, more capable, more (fill-in-the-blank) than you ever though you were. If you’re really stuck here, maybe consider modeling someone else who has (fill-in-the-blank) before? Look at how they did that thing and how you might be able to do the same.
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PS. Want to hear more on this subject? Laura and I cover this and more on this Spiritualish episode.