“To find yourself, think for yourself.” Socrates
It wasn’t until I thought I was dead that I really took a look at my life. I had a great family, job, house, vehicles and all the other stuff that went with it, yet something still wasn’t quite right, like a splinter in my soul. It wasn’t until I realized I had a second chance at life that I started looking inward instead of outward for the answers.
This internal hero’s journey made my world crumble to pieces before it all came together. So many things I thought were true ended up being illusion. The person I thought I was turned out to be a fraud, an imposter.
This internal journey of dream, turned nightmare, and back to dream of reality crumbled away my foundation of sand and rebuilt it on solid ground. After that happened about fifteen years ago, I still find pieces of me that aren’t me, but it’s not as drastic as it was at the beginning.
One of the principles that I coach and live by is “powerful people ask powerful questions”. As I have taken this voyage to the recesses of my soul, I’ve found some questions that, as I’ve pondered my existence and purpose, have proven to be of infinite value.
I use a personal journal to write down the questions and all my thoughts around them. I’ve heard it say that we don’t know what we think until we’ve heard what we’ve said or read what we wrote. The exercise of using a journal will be a powerful tool if you choose to answer these questions in your own journey.
Here are 10 questions to consider.
What do I absolutely know for sure?
“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new” — Pema Chodron
There have been theories that have recently risen from people like Elon Musk that we are living in a simulation. There are also others who hypothesize that we could just be brains in jars having all of these experiences. What do we absolutely know for sure?
Most of us accept things that we were taught as children as true. The brain takes the first piece of information and then uses confirmation bias to prove its truth. Most of us in the Western World were sold the illusions of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy when we were children. While these myths fade away with time, what myths are we still holding onto as adults?
Is the color blue that I see the same color blue that you see? Our point of reference is the same, but do we really see that same color?
As I went through the exercise of answering this question, I realized that there is very little that I know with absolute certainty.
Who are you, really?
“In order to be who you are, you must be willing to let go of who you think you are,” Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul
In order to figure out who you really are, you first need to understand who you are not. Are you this meat-packed bag of bones that you are walking around in? Are you your job, status, or bank account? Are you your thoughts and emotions? Are you your ego? If you died, would you continue to exist? Do you even know who you are?
I say that you are none of these things. All of these things are merely tools that you can use during this mortal journey. Sometimes we use these tools like a hammer hits a nail, and sometimes we use them like a nail hitting a hammer. We become the slaves to these tools, instead of their master.
Asking yourself this question deeply, and shedding away the things that are not you, may provide you incredible insight into your true self and your intrinsic value.
What if I am wrong?
“It takes courage….to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” Marianne Williamson
Two of the most freeing phrases I know of is “I don’t know” and “I may be wrong”. When we don’t attach to needing to know or control everything, we become more open to learn more. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more we think we know, the less we can actually learn, due to cognitive bias.
What if everything I currently believed were wrong? What if I got amnesia and had to start all over again? Would I believe as I currently do? Would I act as I currently do?
What is my purpose?
Do you have any idea why you, a single human being, flying around the galaxy in the middle of space, are even doing here? Is it to make money for things you don’t need, so you have to make more money to buy more things you don’t need? Is it to save the planet? Is it just to breathe out carbon dioxide so that plants can live?
Many people I talk to are searching for their purpose, maybe even waiting for the heavens to open so their purpose is shown to them.
Have you ever thought about what your purpose really is? Are you living it?
What would I do if all of the answers were inside of me?
“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” Lao Tzu
We have been programmed by our upbringing, schooling and society to look outside of ourselves for answers for more things than we need to. Our society is so paranoid and sue-happy that we have to put a caution on coffee telling people it’s hot (duh!). We should just take all of these notices off of things and let Darwinism do its job.
What if we looked inside for all of the important answers? What if we got out of our heads, and listened to our hearts and guts? What if an answer was right for us, even if it wasn’t right for everybody else? Would we still follow it, or conform?
I’ve started relying heavily on this principle of looking inside for answers. My meditation and journaling have been valuable in helping me understand and realize what serves me best.
When we learn to depend on ourselves, we begin to gain more self-confidence and it allows us to forge a stronger individual path for ourselves, instead of following the herd.
Who would I be without any limiting beliefs?
We all have limiting beliefs. “I’m not good enough”, “I’m too old/young”, “making money is difficult”, “I’m not lovable”, the list goes on and on. Why do we choose to believe these stories? If somebody told us we were a kangaroo, we wouldn’t believe it. Why do we believe these stories? Fear is why. Silly, made up fear.
Our brain overdoes its job to protect us, and creates a bunch of imagined fear. What if we told our brain to take a break from protecting us? I mean, when was the last time we were chased by a saber-toothed tiger?
Think about your biggest limiting belief. What if you reprogrammed yourself to believe the opposite? Instead of believing “I’m not good enough”, what if you told yourself “I’m more than good enough” every day? Try it for 30 days and see the shift that happens in yourself.
What really matters to me?
We have all hear of the American dream; big house, fancy car, nice job, beautiful family with 2.3 kids (however that works). The question is, whose dream is it really? Does all that stuff matter to you, or do you think it matters to you because you were told it matters to you?
I’ve learned that doing what I love on a daily basis matters to me. I love to impact peoples’ lives. I love to watch people wake up from this zombie life and live a life of peace, power and purpose. I love people feeling freer than they ever have because they are making up their own rules instead of living by somebody else’s rules. I really don’t care much about material things (one of my Zenpowerment principles is essentialism, which includes minimalism). I care about deep meaningful relationships. I care about the interconnectedness and well-being of all living things on this planet.
What do you care about? What matters to you?
What are my biggest fears? Can I let them go?
We all have fears. They are feelings that the amygdala in the brain provide to keep us safe. But they’re just feelings. Like all feelings, we can do one of three things with them; 1) we can attach to them, which makes them bigger, 2) we can act on them (in the case of fear, it’s not acting, more often than not), or 3) we can let them go.
The best way that I’ve found to eliminate fear is to come from a place of love and courage. The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means heart, so acting from a place of courage is actually coming from a place of love.
When we learn to practice awareness, we can see the fear when it arises, and determine what we want to do with it. In nearly all instances, I choose to let it go, lean into the fear, and love it to death.
Where am I being inauthentic?
Gandhi said that integrity (or being whole, integral) is when our thoughts, words and deeds are in harmony. Where in our lives are these out of alignment? What do we get to do to remedy this?
When we are authentic, we stand in a place of power. We have more self-confidence because we choose to be our word.
We all have inauthenticities. It is learning to tackle the biggest ones first, then moving down the chain until they get smaller and smaller.
If there is something that we want to do and we don’t do it out of fear, we are being inauthentic to our highest Self. When we comply with authority even if it doesn’t feel right, we are being inauthentic. If we are in a relationship where we are not fully committed, we are not being true to ourselves.
Where is the misalignment in your life, and what do you choose to do about it?
Who would I like to be in 10 years?
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Henry David Thoreau
I heard somebody say that their hero is their future self in 10 years, and in 10 years, it will still be their future self in 10 years. There is never an arriving, but there is a journey of striving and development.
Who would you like to be in 10 years? Get super-clear on what this looks like. Envision it in your mind. Feel what it would feel like to be that person. Write down every attribute of your future self. Create such a clarity of your future self that you would immediately recognize them on the street if they passed by. Clarity is power. The clearer you become on who you want to be, the more powerful you will be in becoming that person. Thoughts create things.
Breaking out of the matrix is a lifelong quest, but every new perspective gained on who we really are is a new step out of our tiny little box. Being consistent in asking powerful questions, then taking action when we know the answers will provide a life of peace, power, and purpose.
If you’d like to learn more about achieving higher performance and delivering better results, you can download my FREE ebook “Zenpowerment Power Principles for Executives and Entrepreneurs”.