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Despite our best efforts, from time to time most of us get into situations (some people more than others) where we have to make difficult and uncomfortable decisions. Perhaps there is no clear “right” answer, or it is a lose-lose situation. Perhaps it is a person or scenario that not only makes you anxious, but that you actively fear or fear.
Everyone has their own strategies for dealing with these decisions when forced to make them. Some of these involve sitting in a dark corner and eating saltins covered with a weighted blanket, or simply ignoring a problem in hopes that it will magically go away.
But Catherine Andrews – life coach, teacher and writer behind it The Sunday Soother newsletter– takes a different approach: asking certain questions. Here’s what to know.
Why asking questions can help
By doing Edition of their newsletter from April 26, 2021Andrews shares her method for dealing with difficult decisions using a standard list of questions (we’ll get into that in a moment) to help her figure out what to do when she feels stuck. Here is Andrews::
I think a lot of people like my work and my coaching because I ask really good questions. I heard the concept of asking high quality questions a long time ago in order to identify high quality answers (whatever that means), and I’ve dismissed it as self-help fluff, but I’ve honestly got it through my work with myself and others figured out it’s true.
So whenever I am faced with difficult or anxious situations, or in an attack of fear or shame and a loop that threatens to take over, or really anytime, I return to this list of questions to keep reminding me Again and again, when I ask the right questions, I find the right answers.
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Questions to ask yourself when faced with a complicated decision or situation
Of course, not every approach works for everyone, but this one is worth a try. And so without further ado the questions:
- Am I trying to read someone else’s intentions in this situation?
- How could I give myself what I hope this other person will give me?
- Does this thought arise out of shame or fear? What is a thought that I can have out of self-compassion or hope instead?
- Can I name three things that I need right now?
- Can I name three things that I could let go of now?
- Can I find a way to make this 5% easier for myself?
- Which answer feels easiest for me?
- What if what felt right to me was right?
- Who can benefit from how I think or feel right now?
- Is there any way I can benefit from or protect myself from continuing to believe or act that way?
- Where does this situation reflect a pain in me and how can I take care of this pain?
- Where do I feel this in my body? What wisdom must this sensation tell me?
- What decision would I make if nobody was watching or judging me?
- 5 years later, what would tell me what to do?
- What would it look like to trust?
- Would that decision make my life bigger or smaller?
- Is it true? (Hat tip to the great Byron Katie)
- Do I want to keep thinking about this thing? Why or why not?
No, the “right decision” will not suddenly come to you in a vision after answering the last question on the list. However, according to Andrews, this exercise can be helpful “because sometimes simply rephrasing the right question can get you moving again to get a different perspective on a situation that feels hopeless.”