Have You Asked Yourself?

Composing a photograph is a constant process of asking yourself.

I Do This Really Well When I’m Alone

I love to ask myself things and then see what I discover when I do. Photography is a great example of this. Should I move to the left? Yes. No, a little too far. Is there a better angle on this? It is a process of asking myself.

I do the same thing when writing, like I am right now. Should I take this angle? Sure, let’s try it out. Oops, that’s not working. It’s a constant adjustment that happens naturally when I’m in conversation with myself.

But the Problem Comes When I Involve Others

Suddenly the wisdom I have access to gets pushed aside. Instead of asking myself, I ask other people. I try to please them instead. And I wonder why I end up not pleased and often angry.

In the worst version of this, I end up blaming them for their opinion, thinking that they are “forcing” me to do it their way.

The Work Brings Me Back Home

Whenever I notice myself getting stressed out by this kind of thinking, I pull out a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and start writing. Line 1 is usually something like, “I am angry with them because they are overriding me.” Then I go through the four questions and turnarounds of The Work to see if I can find another version of my story.

I’ve done a lot of worksheets like this over the years, and each time I do, I get clearer and clearer that I am my own responsibility. And that I have full permission from myself to not try and please other people.

This takes presence and courage and practice. But it is a muscle that grows stronger with use. And over time it gives me a sense of confidence that I used to feel only when I was alone.

Here’s a Good Example of it Recently

I bought a new watch band for my watch. It was $65—more than I wanted to pay. But it was a metal band, which I preferred over the leather bands that were priced at $15.

When I got home, I realized that the new metal band was not a perfect fit on my arm. It needed another link removed. But there were no more links that could be removed. So a debate began inside me about whether to return it or keep it.

In the past, I would have asked my partner or others for their opinions. But I decided to ask myself instead. It took a few days of waiting for my reply. But eventually it came. I landed on keeping the metal watch band.

It’s not that I see this band as “perfect.” It’s that I see it as “good enough.” It is my preference given the options—including the option of looking in other stores.

It’s a Feeling of Strength When I Do That

And sometimes I’m able to take it even further.

Sometimes I’m able to actually ask for the opinions of others and not feel obligated to do what they suggest. When I’m clear, even when I hear their suggestion, I can still ask myself for my opinion and wait for my reply.

Sometimes this takes a while. And, if others are involved, I may need to ask for some extra time, but it’s worth it. There is nothing more satisfying than receiving my own reply.

This feels like responsibility, independence, and the end of abusing others by trying to make them responsible for my decisions.

Join me in diving into this process of self-inquiry in The Work 101 online course.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Ask yourself for your own truth. Please treat each question as a deep meditation. Ask the question, then gently wait for the heart’s answer to surface.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

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