Do you want to free yourself?
In part 1 of this article I asked if you want to break past the obstacles that are in your way. I suggested that to move beyond old obstacles it helps to ask yourself three key questions. The reason these key questions are so powerful is because—if you answer them honestly—you will see something about yourself that you haven’t wanted to see. Until you face and accept these unseen parts of yourself, certain things are unlikely to change.
If you want to review the previous key questions—because you need to answer all three of them— go back and review the first and second parts of this article. In this third part of the article we’ll explore question #3 and then I’ll share with you why these questions are so powerful.
Key question #3
What is it about yourself that you don’t want to know?
I know it’s sort of a strange question, but what is it that you don’t want to find out about yourself, you don’t want it be true that you are _________?
I’m not talking about things that are factually true. For example, you might say, “I don’t want to find out that I’m getting older.” Or, “I don’t want to find out that I’m past my physical prime.” These aren’t the kinds of things I’m asking about. What I’m asking about are things that don’t necessarily have to be true, but you’re afraid they might be.
For example, I don’t want to find out that I’m very narcissistic, but it might be true that I am. Or, I don’t want to find out that I’m not as capable as I like to think I am. Or, I don’t want to find out that I’m super capable but not living up to my potential.
List three things you don’t want to be true about you.
Circle the one that has the most power. And then ask yourself . . .
If this were true . . .
What does that say about my primary relationships?
What impact does it have on my work and my effectiveness?
What are the consequences?
Does denying this serve me in some way?
Would accepting this serve me in some way?
Would I make changes if I accepted this were true about me?
Why are these 3 questions so powerful?
1. What are you doing in your life that you know you shouldn’t be doing?
2. What should you be doing in your life—without any question—but you’re not doing it?
3. What is it about yourself that you don’t want to know, you don’t want to be true?
When I started this article I suggested that if you are like the people I work, then you are self-aware and pretty smart. If so, what does it mean that—in matters you care about—you do things you know you shouldn’t do or you don‘t do things you know you should do? It means you’re being incongruent.
And, as far as the third question I posed, “What don’t you want to be true about yourself,” whatever that is, it tends to be repressed. That’s the point—it’s something that we don’t want to know. Being self-aware and smart doesn’t mean we don’t repress. In fact, sometimes the smarter we are the better able we are to repress, to fool ourselves.
All three of these key questions are designed to help us be more honest with ourselves, to discover the incongruity in our behaviors. Our incongruity is what keeps us from moving past the obstacles in our lives. Our incongruity is at the heart of the obstacles we encounter—or more accurately, we create. As we become more congruent—living and acting in accordance with our deepest values—our obstacles dissolve. We do what is important to us, and we don’t do things we believe we shouldn’t do.
We stop hiding whatever it is that we don’t want to be true about us, and instead, we deal with it—we deal with ourselves.
If you answer the three questions honestly you are likely to discover something about yourself. If you accept what it is that you discover, you’ll have new choices in how you move forward in your life.
Wow, what a great blog! I spent a couple hours reading through it, and dug into this 3 part exercise. Keep it up!
I do have one question about this exercise. I feel like it unearthed disparate selves. It raised questions about who I want to become, including possibilities that are mutually contradictory. I found myself making a list titled ‘What I am willing to give up’ and listing everything I value: relationships, worldviews, practices, places, stuff. (I am not entirely sure I am willing to give it all up! But this exercise loosened up the rigid identity I’ve carried.)
In transition, how do you hold these competing identities? What if denying a thought serves me AND accepting it serves me?
Sandy, thanks for sharing your enthusiasm about this process.
What you’re describing, confronting our internal conflicts, is part of the value of this exercise. I suggest that you take your internal conflicts, one at a time, and ask yourself, “If I can only have one of these, which is more important to me.”
In actuality we can and do live with some competing values and interests, but as we go through this exercise we may decide that there are some things we can discard. This is a recognition that I am not the same person I was when I made certain choices earlier in my life.
Ultimately, every choice involves getting something and giving something up. This exercise helps us be more intentional and conscious about our decisions.
Final point, I help myself when I pay attention to the different contexts of my life. In other words, when I’m in my “family” context, I may place a higher priority on some particular value or behavior. And then when I’m in a “business” context I may shift and emphasize another value.
It is my belief that the more congruent I am, regardless of context, the easier my life becomes. But context does influence us—at least when we’re younger and into mid-life.
Let me know if you help yourself with my comments or have more questions.