Inside each of our minds occurs thought regarding us and life. Whether conscious or subconscious, these thoughts occur as questions, and these questions go to the heart of our identities.
There are thousands of questions we ask ourselves; here is a sample of five predictable ones:
1. What am I doing here?
Confusion as to our purpose, or a lack thereof, has us either searching for meaning in resilience or dejected in helplessness. Therefore, this question is about finding context and meaning. If our answer doesn’t inspire us we are likely to look for an out.
Solution: the place we find ourselves is the key to our present and future lives. It can only work out well if those places we find ourselves are the right places to be.
2. How do I respond?
This is a very important question we don’t ask nearly enough. It’s the question Joseph asked each time he was thrown into a pit or jail (Genesis 37 and 39). He didn’t so much wallow in self-pity as look for the opportunity in the mire.
Solution: If we can learn to ask this question of ourselves we have a chance of delaying the instinctual response which almost always gets us in trouble. How do we best respond?
3. What are they talking about?
When we get into conversations, especially in the group context, perhaps when we come in on the tail end or we’re left behind, we will most likely wonder what people are talking about—not so much the words, but the meaning behind them and, more importantly, what that means to us.
If what others are talking about has little to do with us we’ll quickly decide to opt out. This sort of question is about seeking understanding.
Solution: knowing what others are talking about has a certain usefulness. We learn it and then we act on the information or we dispose of it. We don’t dwell on it.
4. Should I stay or should I go?
Another critical question. Most of the time we should find ourselves answering in the former. Our lives will only grow and gradually improve if we have relatively stable platforms from which to launch. But it is still an important question. Commitment on many things, though not typically relationships, has a use-by date.
Besides, this question is probably most pertinent in the momentary setting: “Do I stay, here, this moment?”
Solution: the answer most of the time will be, stay. Oftentimes, simply asking this question will force us to be more decisive, and therefore empowered.
5. When will this end?
We will ask this question many, many times subconsciously throughout our lives. Like the above question, it finds itself a home in the moment as much as season by season. In other words, we’ll ask this question several times on the same day. We’ll also ask the question when seasons of life (months and years at a time) endure, testing our patience to the enth degree.
Solution: the challenges of the day, or the period, last as long as they last. There’s no problem in asking “When will this end?” if we are prepared for a truthful answer.
We ask implicit questions of ourselves; of our circumstances, our problems, and our lives. Indeed, it is healthy that we do this. Better to question than to judge and allow self-talk to lord it over us. Better to question with an open mind than decide prematurely with a closed mind.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.