Often the reason why we stay stuck or we feel helpless is because we’ve adopted an unsupportive perspective.
Maybe your thinking is steeped in shoulds, as in I should look a certain way, I should say yes, I should be more productive.
Maybe your thinking is rigid and unforgiving. I must be perfect. I must not make mistakes, especially not easy errors. This has to be this way, or it doesn’t count.
Maybe you’re stressed out and overwhelmed. Maybe you’re in a rut. Maybe you have a tendency toward negative, this-is-the-end-of-the-world thinking.
Either way, our thinking is paramount to creating nourishment, meaning and fulfillment. Because when our perspective is about feeling helpless and hesitant, about what we should be doing (and aren’t doing), it only sinks our mood even further, and it keeps us spinning our wheels.
But it’s amazing how a slight shift in perspective can open us up to new possibilities and opportunities. It’s amazing how adjusting our outlook can help us to see the beauty, the power in ourselves. Here are 50 questions to help.
- While this situation feels really hard and unwieldy, what parts can I control?
- What decision would I make if I loved myself? Why not do that right now?
- How can I support and nurture myself, as if I were parenting 10-year-old me? (It can help to have a photo of yourself at that age.)
- How could I do things differently next time?
- What would I do if I believed wholeheartedly that I deserved good things?
- Small steps have significant impact. What small step can I take to improve this situation?
- What really lies beneath this emotion? What’s really upsetting me here?
- What story am I currently telling myself that isn’t serving me? What new story can I tell?
- How can I channel my [sadness, anger, anxiety, frustration, shame, disappointment] into a helpful action?
- How can I find gratitude here?
- How can I make this hard thing easier?
- Can I delegate this task or delete it from my to-do list? Must I be the one to do it?
- What’s the most self-compassionate choice I can make?
- What can I get rid of so I can feel lighter and calmer?
- What would my days look like if I stopped trying to change my body and focused on activities I genuinely enjoy?
- Is this something I really want, or am I doing this because I think I should?
- How am I defining ________ (productivity, self-care, self-love, boundaries, physical health). Might my definition or perspective be unhelpful?
- Is this nourishing me?
- How can I refocus on enjoying this, instead of enduring it?
- What three things can I do right now to help me feel less overstretched and overburdened?
- How can I transform my anxiety into excitement?
- How can I transform this challenge into an opportunity?
- How might this matter in a few months or years? Will it really matter?
- Am I thinking in an all-or-nothing terms? If so, what are the various shades of gray? What are the nuances, the layers?
- What if I welcome these feelings, process them, and then move on?
- What if this situation/stressor/challenge/opportunity was happening to someone else? What advice would I have for that person (whose heart I hold dear)?
- Is this belief serving and supporting the life I’d like to live?
- What’s the objective truth here, and what’s the assumption?
- What lesson can I learn from this?
- Who can I talk to for support on this?
- What are the pros and cons?
- Would I say this to a friend?
- If I say yes, what will I be giving up or gaining?
- “If the situation is truly unchangeable, is there a way to change the goal?”
- Is this expectation realistic?
- Can I observe these negative thoughts instead of getting attached and entangled in them? When I do, what happens? What do I learn about their power and what I need?
- What is this feeling trying to tell me about taking good care of myself?
- Instead of reiterating, “why do these things always happen to me?!” or “this is incredibly unfair,” what if I focused on, “what’s a concrete action I can take?”
- Is it really too late to start that? Am I sure?
- Am I staying busy because I love it or because I’m running away from a pain I need to touch and process?
- What if I told myself more often, “You’re doing a great job“?
- Am I surrounding myself with people who are coloring my perspective in negative ways?
- What happens if I approach this from a compassionate, creative, curious, flexible place?
- Is this an actual catastrophe or an (irritating, frustrating, disappointing, ughh, but certainly not impossible) obstacle to navigate?
- What if I relaxed instead of hustling and rushing and roaring through this?
- Is this my [depression, anxiety disorder, disordered eating, …] talking, and not actually me? Might this be a sign that I need to reach out for support, instead of believing the lie I’m being fed?
- When I get quiet, really quiet, what does my heart say?
- How can I face this with understanding, patience, love and gentleness?
- What do I want to learn today?
- What if I realized that “now, there is more than before“?
Remember that first and foremost it’s important to acknowledge how you feel. If you feel overwhelmed, accept those feelings. If you feel angry and annoyed, accept that, too. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling.
Then consider how you might tweak your perspective. Because the lens we use to view our lives shapes our actions. It shapes what we do and don’t do. It shapes how we feel. So pay attention to the way you’re approaching a particular situation or your days as a whole, and see if adjusting your thinking may help you. In a big way.