“The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering”
For years now, I have been making my decisions using a formula designed to help me reach the very best conclusion. For most, even after we’ve committed to a decision, we continue to spend time, wondering, questioning whether we were right or wrong, worrying about having made a mistake, and guessing what might have happened if we had chosen differently. For me, once I have made a decision, there is no going back, no second guessing, no room for doubt. The reason for this is simple…. LOVE can never be wrong.
Now, I am not trying to minimize how difficult decision making can be, I too have made the tough ones, the heavy heart and gut-wrenching ones. What I do know, however, is that this works for me, and it works every time. I think the reason is because it is based in truth seeking, in heart searching, in love honouring.
I ask myself these three questions; three because it represents heaven, earth, and water, as well as body, mind, and spirit. I came up with these questions when I first realized that what we resist, we most often need. And as a wise, dying man once told me “resistance is what makes things harder, and acceptance is what paves a path of grace.
- WHAT AM I AFRAID OF? In truth, we often make decisions from a fearful place, filled with what ifs and shoulds. So, while I could ask myself what am I resisting, what I recognize is the fear, so I ask myself what am I afraid of? And the answer comes fast and furious because it’s impossible to deny what sits on your heart, hard and heavy. We know what we are afraid of and it takes no time at all to write the list. We are afraid of what we don’t understand, of uncertainty, of not knowing, of making a mistake. We don’t usually choose change, we prefer what we know and understand, what we are comfortable with, and often that’s what we know to be true, right here, right now.
- WHAT WOULD LOVE DO HERE? I could ask myself instead, what acceptance might look like, but since we can all relate to love, this works for me. This is often the simple answer, because it comes from our heart and not our head. And I am not suggesting that we all abandon what is practical or necessary, and quit our jobs, buy a used van and go find our bliss. What I am suggesting is that you dig a little deeper, lean into the idea of love and acceptance and what that might look like around this decision. Asking yourself this question helps to soften the hard edges and allows you the time to sink into the question and to open yourself up to possibility. It invites you to question your soul and not your ego, your heart and not your mind. You have not yet committed to a decision, so you have nothing to lose by reaching in a little further.
- WHAT’S THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN? Now there’s a switch, usually we are listing off the worst-case scenario, all the ways that this could go sideways, why this is not a good idea. We lead so often with what we think are our own ideas, when in fact, much of what you think is not your own anyway. Years of messages are engrained in us; we think about what others think – our parents, our kids, our friends, our neighbours, our clients, our Instagram followers…… So, since much of what is in your head was donated by others, why not give your heart a try, only you reside there. Imagine what good could come from this, what amazing and wonderful and beautiful things might happen as a result. Dream about what might be better, different, good, and authentic about your decision.In the end, there are no wrong decisions.
You won’t know what could have happened if you had taken the other route, so why give energy to wondering?
You won’t know if the opposite would have been better, so why include it in your next thought?
And not making a decision, is still a decision, don’t kid yourself, waiting and worrying leads to its own conclusions. So, the next time you are faced with making a thoughtful decision, ask yourself my three questions. And, even if you don’t decide based on the answers, perhaps you will understand yourself a little better, for having asked them.
(originally published, March 2, 2018 livingwithgrace.ca)
The Three Best Questions You’ll Ever Hear – one of my favourite podcasts