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How to Find the Answers (Even If You Don`t Have A Clue)

How to Find the Answers (Even If You Don`t Have A Clue)

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance.” Albert Einstein

To translate Albert Einstein’s beautiful quote to something we can chew on, I propose this — if you can ask yourself difficult questions and make yourself think, you will find all the answers within yourself.

Very recently, I’ve come to make huge life-altering decisions in only a few days. That’s not to say I didn’t think through them carefully — it’s actually because I thought through them so carefully and asked myself the right questions that I am able to make these decisions confidently.

For example, a few days ago, I decided to reshuffle the responsibilities and roles at my startup. It was a huge decision to make, but I did it happily after answering questions like:

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  • Why haven’t I done this already? What pain do I avoid in delaying this?
  • What will it feel like after I’ve made this decision? What pleasure will I enjoy in making the jump?
  • Does this decision feel liberating — or limiting?

These questions may seem trivial to you, but sitting down to put these ideas on papers made me face the facts — I was avoiding this out of pure fear. It was time to make a change, and I’m very happy with the result — because I got cozy with difficult questions long enough to hammer out the answers I knew all along.

Finding the Answers — Your Action Plan

If you want to find the answers within yourself, here are the steps I suggest for attacking the toughest questions:

1. Be open to questions and to figuring it all out.

Becoming more self-aware is critical to solving problems, but being open to that self-awareness is vital.

Without making the decision to become open and honest about finding the answers, the water will run through the tubes, but the faucet won’t let any of it trickle out. It’s easy to become closed off from introspection and questioning.

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If I hadn’t decided to truly question myself and face my answers with conviction and the desire to make a change, I probably would not feel as liberated and purposeful as I do right now. It’s scary, I admit. But it’s also incredibly exhilarating.

2. Find the right questions.

Sometimes, the right questions can come from a family member inquiring about our decisions — not fun, but certainly valuable. Other times, though, the right questions come in the form of resources we hadn’t really considered.

When I was writing a book proposal a few months ago, I didn’t know where to begin. After some serious Google searching, I found a great resource to start soul-searching — a workbook by Danielle LaPorte. This amazing workbook asked me a series of questions that helped me think through my proposal, structure it, and get down on paper what I already had floating around my mind. I knew what I wanted to write about, but the workbook helped me make it concrete.

Since that experience, I’ve come across many worthwhile workbooks on the web. I’ve even been inspired enough to develop my own iPhone app (called QuestionUp) to ask the right questions for each type of problem.

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It’s an amazing experience when a workbook, an app, or even a friend asks you a question that stumps you — and then inspires you.

3. Sit down to think through the answers.

The format you prefer depends on your personal taste — and your mood. Sometimes, I use pen and paper, but other times I use an app. The important string that holds them all together is the desire to be at peace with the process of answering each question.

(Tip: For those who can’t disconnect completely, I recommend software to help you block certain websites — or block your entire internet connection! It really helps me focus when I can’t do it on my own.)

Whether I sit down with a notebook, my laptop, or an app, the process is always the same. Each question crashes over me like a wave, but then smooths out and leaves me with serene waters and a lighter heart — ready for the next one.

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All in all, I find looking within ourselves and searching for our own answers is a resource many do not appreciate. Before you look outside of yourself today, take a moment to look inside. It’s amazing what you might find.

Is there a technique you use to find all the answers within yourself? If you know of any good resources, please share them in the comments!

Featured photo credit: checked the box by symbol of tick in selection via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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