The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself.—Tony Robbins
Questions direct our focus. I learned long ago when my second child was diagnosed with a neurological condition, that asking the ‘why’ questions leads to a dark unnavigable place with no return. It’s a free-falling bottomless pit.
But I had to first rant and rave in the safe and secure therapist’s office in order to finally see that asking the ‘why me’ questions was an exercise in futility. This was part of my grieving journey: to let go of what I had hoped for and expected and move along toward my new reality, building new dreams and goals.
New questions started surfacing. More of the ‘how’s’: how to move forward, how to cope, how to create a different life than anticipated, how to rebuild around a new and different reality.
Fast forward 18 years later. This same daughter gets hit with a year-long medical crisis that she miraculously survives. Because of the work I had preciously done, I didn’t go down the rabbit hole of ‘why her, again’. Well, maybe I did poke my head in there, but I didn’t stay there. And that’s the key – can we pull ourselves out from where it doesn’t serve us?
Now fast forward 20 years. I’ve met up with another adversity – my recent diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. With the flick of a switch, or a CT report, life is changed.
And so I’m back to finding the right/helpful questions to guide me on this new personal journey. I’ve learned some lessons well and know what doesn’t serve me. What does serve me is: looking to maintain some semblance of normalcy; staying in the present and not letting myself get ridden with anxiety over the future goblins; maintaining hope.
Directing ourselves towards the question of how to maintain some normalcy when navigating through totally uncharted waters, I look to what makes me feel somewhat productive and routinized.
So watering my plants is a biggie, even if it’s only two at a time before I have to stop. Thinking and acting upon someone else’s upcoming happy event or their difficult time. Ordering a personalized name stool for a friend’s new baby takes us outside ourselves even for a few minutes.
Staying in the present is a real mind challenge. Our minds like to get hijacked and hang out with the night terrors. That is what creates anxiety. We have to work hard at countering that. Meditation and visualization are research-based practices that help us stay present, the only actual moment we have.
The mind and body are totally connected, and we have to use that to help calm down our nervous system; which in our high-stress world today is more often than not in a fight-or-flight reactive response pattern, as if we are always being chased by that saber-toothed tiger.
Maintaining hope is an intentional mindset we must work at acquiring. I received a lovely sign when I was reading Lissa Rankin’s book, Mind Over Medicine. A few pages in, she was writing about EPOH treatment, which I am having, and how one doctor flipped the letters on his patient and gave him the HOPE treatment. A weak mind can weaken the immune system.
Here’s a practical tip I highly recommend: Look for photos that inspire you to feel strong, positive and uplifted. Gather some of your own photographs or ones you find online or in publications. When meditating or going through a difficult procedure or treatment, hold that photo in your mind’s eye.
Here are my three that I go to.
Do you tend to ask yourself certain questions? What questions do you gravitate towards? What questions can point you in a better direction?