It’s so easy to push those negative thoughts down or out or cover them up with pretty frilly things; things that distract, hide, conceal. The hard questions are just that, hard.
About eight years ago my doctor and good friend, sat me down and laid it out for me . . . if I continued living the life I was living, I would die sooner than later. He prescribed Xanax and gave me very clear instructions on how much to take and when to take it. I’ve always hated taking any kind of medication; therefore, I found this to be extremely upsetting and unsettling; I argued and resisted and refused them at first; eventually caving.
The thing is, I was exercising almost daily, eating healthy foods, seeing a therapist, and talking to close friends. So why was I still so stressed.
“You can play it safe, and I wouldn’t blame you for it. You can continue as you’ve been doing, and you’ll survive, but is that what you want? Is that enough?”
― J.M. Darhower, Sempre
Because I had been in therapy for years and did not feel my life was changing (the way I’d hoped it would), I hired a life coach. Therapy was helping me figure things out and cope with my past, but it wasn’t helping me to see how I might change my current situation.
My life coach helped me to ask the big questions concerning what I wanted in my life and how to get from A to B. She didn’t just ask questions; Betsy was engaging. It was less about figuring out why I am the way I am and more about what I did and did not want out of my life. She was extremely supportive and non-judgmental. Perhaps I could have pulled myself up and out on my own, but the investment in my own wellbeing, paid off.
Questions We Need to Ask Ourselves
- Am I happy?
- Am I where I want to be?
- Are people treating me the way I want to be treated?
- Are people treating me with respect?
- Am I being true to myself?
- Is _____________ good for me?
- Can I change the things I’m unhappy about?
- What is stopping me from being my authentic self?
- Is it worth whatever discomfort __________ causes?
- Does it matter? Does he/she matter?
- Is there something troubling me?
- Is it time for change?
I was involved in a toxic relationship about 20 years ago. It was on and off, more off than on. I kept telling myself that he would change — the lies we tell ourselves. I’m sure you’ve been there. One day I was struggling with the stupid little shiny objects that distract us from the truth. I was sitting in a Starbucks hating my burnt coffee, my stale lemon pound cake, my life. A stranger sat next to me and started up a conversation. She was young and pretty and way too happy.
I kept thinking she would go away and let me get back to my misery, but alas, she was determined. I realized after a few minutes that she was a student at the school where I was the Dean of Students.
At one point while engaging in the usual social niceties, she saw someone walk in and she said,”I thought I just saw your wife.”
I was sort of stunned and bewildered. I questioned her about this and she responded, “Doesn’t your wife work at the school.”
After revealing my sexuality, the two of us had a good laugh. I had no idea that the students thought I was married to a staff member. It got me thinking about perception and forced me to ask myself:
How do you want to be perceived? The truthful answer I gave myself changed my life. I wanted to be perceived as an openly gay and confident man. I had a lot to work on and the questions I had to ask myself to get the work done, were challenging.
I committed to doing the work and although I admit to sometimes going backward before going forward, for the most part, I have been doing the heavy lifting for awhile now. It has been worth the effort, because although life is not perfect, I am where I want to be and I am in a good place emotionally. One can only get there by asking the tough questions.
Questions I’d Like to Ask You
Many of you contact me privately, which is fine; whatever makes you comfortable. I would like to pose a couple of questions — please answer any or all of them. I ask that you comment on my site so that others can see your response. Many will relate I’m sure. Of course I understand if that makes you uncomfortable and you choose not to. Nothing worse than feeling coerced.
- Does fear get in the way of making life changes?
- Am I putting off life goals for another time?
- Are these issues that worry me life and death matters?
- Do you feel empowered to make major changes in your life?
- Do you feel that you know yourself?
- Are you too comfortable to make a change?
- Is looking in the mirror just too painful?
- Are you making excuses?
And then there is the question I didn’t ask . . .