Friday, May 13, 2011

Asking The Right Questions

This morning, as I reviewed the "hits" to this blog, I discovered that someone had made a Google search for: "asking the right questions." The number one item in the responses to this request was the article below that I first posted in May 2009.  As a reread it, I found myself in a similar quandary as the article addresses.  I am posting it again with the thought that it may also be applicable to other readers at this time.  I have often recognized that life seems to run in cycles.  As we become more aware of them and seek further understanding of them, our growth into our fuller, richer True Self may be realized.  I am continuing the process!

When I wrote that I was going to take a sabbatical in order to consider some “new” questions about my life and my purpose I didn’t know at the time just what the “new” questions were going to be.  I think I expected them to simply be a rehash of questions I have asked myself most of my life.  That is the way the journey began, but it is not how it turned out.

It seems there are points in the lives of each of us where we feel a greater need for introspection, meditation, or contemplation because we feel a bit like a boat without a rudder.  A boat without a rudder may sail along just fine, unless you want to go somewhere specific.  Then you discover that without the rudder you aimlessly drift along with little satisfaction or sense of accomplishment.

I have come to points like this several times in my life.  These plateaus where we find it necessary to take a break for a while are not necessarily negative events nor do they indicate a lack of life value.  They are simply places where we have the opportunity to review our priorities and consider altering our direction.

This time around, my questions seem to center on getting a better understanding of my feminine nature.  I wanted to better understand my feelings, my empathetic nature and why deep emotions seem to surface so dramatically for me at times.
Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation—in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation.  The key question causes germination of consciousness.  The properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind.  Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open.[1]
Somewhere within me there is an aching, a longing that has been expressing itself more and more often as deep feelings of connection with some of my fellow human beings, not necessarily anyone I know personally.  The feelings surge up when I see others hurting or feeling alone without the company of others who might be supportive in their time of need.  I may see this in a television drama, the evening news, and the newspaper or just about anywhere one hears about others and their difficulties.  It also wells up in me when I become aware of significant help someone extends to another, a random act of kindness.  Both negative and positive stories attract my sense of empathy.

The curiosity that stands behind the questions I ask myself about why I have these feelings and what I am supposed to do with them hopefully will open more widely the secret doors of my own psyche.

Often the creative life is slowed or stopped because something in the psyche has a very low opinion of us, and we are down there groveling at its feet instead of bopping it over the head and running free. In many cases what is required to aright the situation is that we take ourselves, our ideas, our art, far more seriously than we have done before. [2]

I find this notion particularly interesting.  Realizing that the blocks I might feel in my creative life could be an inner low self-image certainly is not a new notion, but seeing it in print gave me the opportunity to look at that issue again, perhaps opening the “secret doors” of my psyche.  For the most part I feel I am aware of the self-image limitations I have placed upon myself, so my questions were to get at how to handle the empathetic emotions that overwhelm me at times.  What is their productive use?  (My pragmatism and logic at work, which takes me away from the feelings and into my masculine mind.)

The larger questions to be considered are: What/who am I really?  What is my work in this life?  What do I hunger for?  What do I long for?  Additionally, I think I must come to terms with whether I believe in my ability to do what my life experiences require of me in order to enter into transformation.  Am I simply sitting on the sidelines because it is comfortable there and there is less to challenge my status quo?  Or, is my apparent sideline sitting really just an opportunity to consider new ventures and to find ways to utilize the skills and belief systems I have developed through the years?

As you can see, I have not finished my quest (and I don’t think we are designed to “finish” our quest anyway!).  However, I have gained some new insights that I plan to share in later postings, so stay tuned.

[1] Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD, page 52
[2] Ibid, Page 70


Raven Dana said...

Well I think that asking the right questions is absolutely key to getting what we want and being happy. Asking HOW instead of "why' gives us access to the formula we have unconsciously generated and maintained for any given result. If we know HOW we ae successful in one area oif life and HOW we re-create misery or frustration in another, we can apply strategy A to dead end B and use that self awareness to revise thoughts, beliefs and expectations that sabotage our satisfaction.

Dan Perin said...

Great observation! I absolutely agree that the HOW is much more important than the WHY? Why often leads us down the path of self-pity, self-righteousness and other dark alleys.