In the last post, we pondered one question we ought to be asking ourselves every time we find that we are not getting the results we want in whatever it is we are in pursuit of:
Why do I want to do what I am doing instead of what I know I need to be doing to get the results I say that I really want?
We considered the fact that we do indeed want to be doing whatever it is that we are doing at any given moment. We’re playing a little blame game with ourselves whenever we suggest that the actions we engage in are somehow out of our control.
In order to completely escape the trap of thinking that way habitually – and, thus, avoid the ruts and frustration (sometimes even chronic depression) and total lack of productivity that comes from thinking we aren’t doing what we want to do – it’s important to be in the habit of asking powerful questions that get to the heart of the matter.
So, two things:
1) Always have at the forefront of your awareness that you are doing what you want to be doing… which is a better way of saying Never slip into the behavior blame game [I say “a better way” because whenever we tell ourselves not to do something, such as ‘don’t forget to pick up milk on the way home’, that’s often the specific instruction our brain picks up… and we forget to pick up the milk]
2) When it comes to understanding our own actions – the behaviors we’re engaging in – there’s always a reason why. Just ask yourself. The answers are in there somewhere. They’ll come out when you ask. Hence, the question: Why do I want to do what I am doing instead of what I know I need to be doing to get the results I say that I really want?
In his best-selling book, Flip the S.W.I.T.C.H. (How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset), author PJ McClure discusses the Five Why’s. It’s a great way to discover what you really think and feel about things you may have never been consciously aware that you had any clear thoughts or feelings about. It is a very simple – but potentially powerful – way to discover why you want to do whatever you’re doing at a given moment.
It starts by simply asking yourself Why? Once you have the answer… ask Why? again… and again… and again… and again. This will lead to knowing what you really think about things at a much deeper level.
Here’s a sample of how the Five Why’s (of discovering why you want to do what you’re doing) might look:
For lunch, instead of getting the salad I talked about, I’m drinking a chocolate ice cream milkshake and eating fries with it. Why do I want a milkshake and fries rather than something healthier?
Answer: Because I prefer the taste of this more than a salad.
Why #2: Why do I prefer the taste of this more than that?
Answer: Because the milkshake and fries makes me feel like I am free to make my own choices, even bad ones.
Why #3: Why is this about feeling free to make a bad choice instead of what I know is healthy?
Answer: Because I want to tell myself that I am in charge of my life, not anyone else.
Why #4: Why do I feel the need to make a statement to myself like this, especially with food choices?
Answer: Because I don’t feel like I’ve always had control of my choices. And food choices have generally always been mine. So, food has been a useful “retreat” for me when I’ve felt out of control of other choices in my life.
Why #5: Is that true? [Not every question has to be prefaced with ‘Why’] Is it true that I’ve not had control of my choices?
Now, look at that last question and consider what the answer might imply: CHANGE!! If we suddenly realize that we really have had control of something we’ve assumed we did not control and, hence, could not change… then we’ve, by default, realized that we can change. Permission granted. We can now make a different choice to view things a different way and then to make different, better decisions based on that new outlook because, well, we do have the power to choose!
Even if, in the past, our choices were somehow limited (by parents, a controlling spouse, etc.), maybe those circumstances no longer exist. Maybe they haven’t for years… even decades, but maybe we’re still operating off that same assumption (‘Others in my life are constantly trying to limit my choices and to control me in some way’) and it’s been a HUGE obstacle! Maybe we’ve been viewing others with a very tainted set of “glasses” and it’s time to reconsider whether those people really are the source of our current difficulties, or that we’ve just decided to blame them when the real source of the mental or emotional blockage has not been a part of our life for a long, long time.
If that’s you, you’re not alone! <– in a future post we’ll talk about the powerful fact that we’re not alone, and the depressing lies about loneliness and being alone that we sometimes tell ourselves. For now, know that if you sometimes feel like a dork, or a freak, or that the obstacles you face are totally unique, you’ve come to the right place. My friends have confirmed that I am, in fact, a dork… sometimes a freak. However, take it from me: the obstacles you face are certainly not unique. It’s time to insert some new assumptions and to see how those new ways of looking at the old obstacles can blast to smithereens all that stuff from the past.
In another future post, be watching for Ina. She’s a good friend of mine. I am eager to introduce you to her. Okay, Ina isn’t an actual person. I–N–A is actually the abbreviation of perhaps one of the most powerful phrases you’ll ever need in order to blast through almost any obstacle. I came up with “Ina” as both a memory hook and as a way of showing that simple things like a simple phrase uttered by a friend can inspire massive change. So again, be watching for Ina! Soon she’ll be a good friend of yours too.
Anyway, back to the Five Why’s. It helps to write this out; the questions and the answers. It doesn’t matter whatever the topic happens to be; you will find that you’ll be able to discover some rather fascinating motivations for why you want to do the things you do. Maybe it only takes three questions to discover the real reason why you want to do a certain thing that isn’t producing the best results in your life. Maybe it will take asking and answering seven questions. The point is to get the words out and to examine what you see. What does it tell you? Where does it lead? You won’t know until you do it. Take action.
Lastly, know three things: 1) there is no prescribed or proscribed way to direct the questions, 2) there are no right, perfect questions, nor answers, and 3) no obstacles get blasted unless and until you decide to take action as a result of what you discover.
NOTE: In the book, Flip the S.W.I.T.C.H., PJ McClure promotes the use of the Five Why’s to help discover one’s purpose. But it can be used to learn all kinds of interesting things hidden in your heart and mind; things that are often sitting there at just below the conscious level, waiting to be uncovered; why you want to do what you’re doing, what your life purpose is, or why you get sad whenever you smell fresh bark.
Okay, maybe you don’t get sad whenever you smell fresh bark. I do. Don’t ask why.