“Sometimes questions are more important than answers.” -Nancy Willard
A friend of mine once told me she frequently asked herself, “When is the other shoe going to drop?”
Whenever things were going well for her, she braced herself for an impending fall so that it wouldn’t be too devastating when things changed, as they often do.
Despite her intentions, this didn’t protect her from pain; it just kept her from fully enjoying what might have been some of the most fulfilling experiences of her life.
I realized then that I was also living my life around fearful, defeatist questions.
What if I never find love? What if I don’t have what it takes? What if I messed up my one big chance?
They always danced around fears of uncertainty and inadequacy—and because they frequently dominated my thoughts, I consistently acted from a tense, frightened place. These questions felt like self-preservation, when really they were emotional self-mutilation.
And they repeatedly instigated a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you frequently look for answers to questions about worst case scenarios, you tend to find them, real or imagined.
It reminds of this time I read about a woman who feared for years that she had cancer, even though she had no symptoms and doctors saw no medical proof to corroborate her suspicions. Many years later, when she received a cancer diagnosis, she said she almost felt relief because she finally knew she was right.
She attached to her panic over the potential for sickness, and in doing so began suffering long before there was a physical cause.
We can’t change that some things might not last, and things might happen that we wouldn’t have chosen. But the reality is there are just as many positive possibilities as there are negative ones.
We get to choose where we focus our energy—whether we dwell on everything that might go wrong, or imagine everything that could go right. What we think dictates what we’ll do, and that plays a big role in what we create.
It all starts with asking ourselves the right questions. What are those? I don’t know—I don’t have all the answers. But I can tell you mine:
What if I let myself enjoy this moment? How can I appreciate myself and other people in action today? What’s good around me, and how can I contribute to it?
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