When I teach journaling workshops, I often give participants a series of prompts that I call Three Small Questions. The catch is that they aren’t small questions at all. They are often big questions but what I want from them is short, simple, one sentence, very direct answers.
What surprised you today?
What challenged you today?
What do you need right now more than anything else?
I ask and my students have about 30 seconds to furiously write each answer.
Then, I tell them, they must ask themselves these three same questions everyday for the next week.
Why? They ask.
And here is what I tell them.
These questions are a simple crucible for you. If what is challenging you on Day 1 that you ask is still the thing that is challenging you on Day 7 and it is controllable, addressable in one day or a series of days (ie: my tense relationship with my sister vs. my mother’s cancer struggle) then the question becomes why are you letting this challenge still defeat you? It’s the same thing for What do I need right now more than anything else. If you answer sleep on day one and then still the answer is sleep on day 6, then the question becomes why aren’t you addressing a need that you really can meet right now, why aren’t you giving yourself what you’ve asked for and would you ever deny that need to someone else in your life?
And so, today, I want to challenge you to answer these three small questions for yourself (if you are arriving at this blog post early in the day, go ahead and answer the first two questions about yesterday). Share those answers here if you like (I’d love for you to do so). Then ask yourself these questions everyday for the next week. You can do them on paper or you can ask yourself these questions while you are in the shower, driving to work, during savasana in yoga class, while you drink your coffee. The key is to delight yourself with your surprises and to increase your mindfulness and self-awareness.
Tuesday morning, I was working out when “What do you need right now more than anything else?” poppted into my head. That’s weird, I thought. And though I didn’t have a consciouos reason that I knew of for asking the question (ie: sore muscles that needed a massage, an uncomfortable tension with anyone in my life) , I gave myself room to think about what my answer was. A few hours later, the answer popped up. I needed Breathing Room. You see, I was in the midst of taking an online course that asked us to dedicate 3-4 hours to it a day and, yet, I didn’t have the 3-4 hours with Happy home. Moreover, technology baffles me- there might be no other 30-something in America with the poor level of technological skills I have. And so this class was causing me stress deep down inside- in the place where you just stuff it away and keep moving. And so I did what I wouldn’t always allow myself to do- because of mommy guilt, because of money guilt, because of me guilt (I should have planned better that bossy little voice inside my head wanted to say). I called our sweet sitter and asked for a few hours of Happy care so that I could get a grasp on the class. And getting a grasp on the class gave me a grasp on me, reoriented me, gave me exactly what I needed rather than leaving me afloat for another day or week.
What do you need right now more than anything else? Ask yourself that until you come up with an answer that YOU can deliver. And then deliver it. Today.