“Knowing death is inevitable – we can choose our attitude and its meaning.” —Irvin D. Yalom
Existentialist questions are almost inevitable in everyone’s life at some point – they allow us to become aware or question the why, what, where, who, how and purpose of our existence.
Simply put – if the purpose of life is to have a life of purpose, then what does that mean for you personally? The following questions are designed to assist in providing some answers. These answers can then allow us to truly become the authors or architects of our own existence – if we are willing to allow ourselves to turn them into action steps!
Once aware and conscious of the origins and present validity (if any) of our beliefs, behaviors, reactions, and choices, then, if we choose to retain the status quo, it is still a choice – not a must or a dilemma anymore. One is no choice, two options are a dilemma – we need at least three options to be able to make a real choice.
As was mentioned in the list of C’s – courage is not the absence of fear but doing something, despite the fear.
It was Dr. Norman Cousins who wrote, “Death is not the ultimate tragedy of life. The ultimate tragedy is depersonalization – dying in an alien and sterile area, separated from the spiritual nourishment that comes from being able to reach out to a loving hand, separated from a desire to experience the things that make life worth living, separated from hope.”
This loss of self can be viewed as a form of self-abandonment and, if the emotional or physical pain is too great, then self-rejection and self-hatred can quickly follow. To put it into full context – by our thoughts, beliefs, and actions we have the ability to become our worst adversary or our best advocate.
Many people spend a lifetime seeking a “missing” sense of external acceptance and will try and become whatever they feel they need to, in order to gain acceptance and love from those from whom they desire it. This can result in a constant return to situations and behaviors that might be against one’s true beliefs and are usually against one's own best interests. This will only add to the internalized and often verbalized, sense of unworthiness and low self-esteem. Having to give up one's true self in order to try and gain love from someone else will often result in so-called co-dependent relationships and very unfulfilling life. A life of surviving – rather than of truly living.
We cannot always control what happens to us or around us, but we can learn to change our responses to those things. We can lead a life in pursuit of our own goals, allowing ourselves the gift of being open to pursue our own true potential and returning to a state of full connectedness with our own spirit.
“To lose one's soul eliminates meaning from life.” —Jeanne Achterberg
Healing then is a process of shifting our beliefs, thoughts, and actions from that of being “our own worst enemy” into becoming “our own best friend”, or at least treating ourselves with the same kindly consideration that we would extend to someone we loved unconditionally. I will sometimes state to a client, “You are the only person you will never leave or lose in your entire lifetime, so you might as well establish the best possible relationship with yourself.”
Knowing that our attitude defines our experience of anything – and that our attitude is directly linked to our beliefs, thoughts, and actions, we are therefore the architects and authors of our own experience. These questions are designed to assist you in defining your beliefs and thereby your true choices and possible present and future action steps.
Some Thoughts About Asking Questions
When you know the difference between the container and the contents, you know all.
When the asking of questions ends, the game is over!
Life is about wonder, and the meaning is often in the question, not the answer!
When we have all the solutions, there’s no reason for the game to continue.
Life is a journey and the meaning of life is the pathway. Success is a journey, not a destination.
The questions we ask along the way become the tools that assist us in navigating a course, as opposed to drifting asleep at the wheel.
There are some important questions that we can ask ourselves in order to assist us in determining and developing our other life and athletic goals:
- How do you want to be, and how would you know when you are there?
- What dreams did you have as a child that you have given up on?
- Who do you wish you could be like?
- What would you like to do that you haven’t been able to do yet?
- What would you do/attempt/be if your success was guaranteed?
- What legacy of self would you like to leave behind?
- How good can you stand it?
Mental Chatter – if you ignore it, it will rule your life. You create your world with the mental chatter – live in a construct.
Knowing this is actually a liberating concept.
The following three lessons contain a list of 150 questions to assist in one’s path of self-discovery along the road to authenticity.