4 Brave Questions That You Should Ask Yourself Regularly
I’ve been looking for answers my entire life. Whether I was seeking to improve my emotional health, my spiritual world, my relationships, or my career, I was always looking for answers.
I read hundreds of books, thousands of blogs, and completed many courses. I’m also in the final year of a PhD in psychology and I teach neuroscience at the top two universities in Ireland. I’ve found lots of valuable information on my journey, but I never found what I was looking for, especially when I tried to apply it to my own daily life.
It wasn’t until I began exploring the power of questions that I realised my mistake. To get the right answers, I first had to ask the right questions. With that, I flipped my search on its head and began looking for the best questions I could find.
Here are 4 brave questions that I regularly ask myself. They’ve completely changed my approach to life, and by pushing through my fears, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. If you give them a shot, I’m hoping they will help you too.
1. Are My Actions Guided By Love or Fear?
Fear and love are two opposing emotions that play a huge role in our lives. Essentially, we can trace all of our actions back to these two emotions. Unfortunately, for many, emotional pain from the past drives these fears. Because of this, most of us do whatever it takes to avoid those situations in the future, and it can have a huge impact on our actions.
When we act out of love, on the other hand, we tend to approach situations instead of avoiding them. It might be the pleasurable pursuit of a hobby, a career, or a potential partner. Whatever you’re trying to achieve, if it comes through love, your actions will be very different.
Like everything in life, however, nothing is black and white. Consider this example. We could all do with more money, but we tend to want it for different reasons. Some people seek money for financial freedom so they can do what they truly love, such as travelling, buying their dream home, or spending quality time with loved ones. These actions come through love.
For others, however, the pursuit of money comes through fear. This comes in many flavours. Some people try to buy themselves into happiness and avoid how they truly feel. Others seek money for power and egos because they’re afraid to look weak in the eyes of their peers. All of these actions come through one thing — avoiding what they truly fear.
Next time you need to check in with yourself, ask yourself: Are my actions guided by fear and avoidance, or am I approaching life through the act of love?
2. If I Am Saying Yes to This, What Am I Saying No To?
Saying yes is easy. Saying no is hard. There are many reasons for this. It might be guilt, a feeling of obligation, fear of missing out, or just plain fear. The fact is, however, it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on what’s important in life.
Here are several reasons why you should reflect on this question:
- By saying yes to working longer hours, you’ll have less time for your family and friends.
- Saying yes to what is not important, undermines what is.
- Saying yes to what you don’t want to do, gives you less time for what you do want to do.
- Your ability to deliver on what’s important will increase tenfold.
- Time is one of your most valuable resources, and you can’t get it back.
It’s quite simple really. Be it your relationships with your loved ones, your career, or your health, we all need to reflect on what we hold most dear. Then, when we say yes to one thing, we know we’re not saying no to something that’s more important.
3. What Part of This Situation is Under My Control?
This is a powerful question because very little is actually under our control. This includes external forces such as the economy, the weather, political issues, and the behaviour of others.
One way to identify what you can and cannot control is a model first used by Stephen Covey. Every situation, he says, can be divided into two circles: the circle of concern, which consists of factors we have little or no influence over, and the circle of influence, which is made up of things we can control.
To see how it works, check out the image below. Here, the circle of concern is blue, and the circle of influence is white.
In the circle of concern, we can see that many external events — such as the news, other people’s behaviour, the political situation, social media feeds, and COVID-19— are things that concern us, but are outside our control. In contrast, everything in the white circle, which includes our attitude, our own behaviour, what we watch on TV, and who we surround ourselves with, are within our control.
By using this model, you can take a quick snapshot of what is outside of your control, and as such, stop wasting time thinking and worrying about it. Then, when you ask yourself what is under your control, such as your reaction to the situation, you can focus on that.
4. What Would I Do If I Wasn’t Afraid?
“Someone once told me the definition of hell; On your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.” ― Anonymous
When I first heard this line, it sent shivers down my spine. Why? Because it made me realise I was not taking the opportunities life was offering me. Through fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of change, I was afraid to take any risks, and I was not fulfilling my true potential.
So I began asking myself: “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” Very few people contemplate this question, yet it can have a profound impact on your life.
Maybe you didn’t ask that person out because you were afraid of rejection. Maybe you stayed in the job you hated because you were afraid of change. Or maybe you knew what lit that fire in your belly, but you let your dreams slip through your fingers because you’re afraid of failure.
Imagine how life might look if you weren’t afraid? By risking rejection and showing how you truly feel, you might find your life partner. If your new job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, at least you’re not stuck in your old one, and you can move onto other things.
Next time you feel afraid, ask yourself what might happen if you were to push through those fears.
The best things in life are often on the other side of fear. That’s where true happiness lies: in our challenges, our vulnerabilities, our struggles, and our fears. So if you want the most out of life, you need to ask brave questions. Only then can you push through fears.