Can answering one question help you get your priorities in line? Dillan DiGiovanni says yes.
Last week, my friend called me. We hadn’t spoken in a while, and we are both very busy people–that’s probably why we hadn’t spoken in so long. He had some incredible news to share, and I did, too.
This is the norm for us. We attack life HEAD-ON, so we usually have something incredible and profound to share with each other.
This friend usually takes a back seat and gives me space to share first. On this day, I gave him that first spot. He began speaking very quickly, sharing the tremendously good news that he and his super rad wife are expecting their first BABY! This is a big deal–because they are coming back from a miscarriage last year. Send them your light and your love.
So he’s talking really fast and sharing this good news and we have a great chat about it. Then he says, “and I’m also feeling like I’m going a little crazy.” I got it. Without even hearing more, I got it. He expanded upon his recent schedule and how busy and full his life was, how his “life plate” was overflowing, and had been for a really long time. He was desperately trying to solve this math problem of the time he had available and the tasks/obligations he had taken on.
It basically looked like this:
He shared more. I listened. He shared more. I listened more. After about 20 minutes, he paused and said, “so—yeah. I don’t really know what to do.” As he spoke, I had all these ideas and suggestions floating around my head.
As a health coach, a teacher and general smartypants, I am never at a loss for an idea or solution to propose. But I knew that what my friend needed most was to hear himself speak. And solve this one, himself.
I said, “what I’ve noticed over the past twenty minutes is that, as you spoke, the pace of your speech slowed down, and…”
he cut me off, “and I’m breathing…”
I said, “yep. You’re breathing.”
He knows. We’ve been friends a long time, and he has absorbed a lot of what I’m learning and sharing with folks as a health coach these past few years. He’s picked up on the skill of noticing, reflecting and troubleshooting for a solution to make an improvement in some aspect of his life.
While it’s tempting to give advice or recommendations when I notice someone struggling, I knew the most powerful way to support him was to ask a question: “So, what can you learn from this observation?”
He said, “I need to slow down more, take more deep breaths—and that means I have to be doing less every day. I need to take on less projects, and make space to enjoy what’s coming up for me–not rush through it.”
I noticed myself struggling to solve for X recently in several aspects of my life.
Am I making good decisions?
Am I spending my time and money wisely?
Am I good partner?
What does it mean to be “male”?
Am I cooking enough food at home or spending too much money on eating out?
It’s so tempting to reach out and ask someone, anyone, for the “right answer”. We are conditioned as kids to believe we don’t possess that right answer inside. We are taught boundaries and limits. We are fed other peoples’ truths or projections. We are rarely encouraged to seek the answer within.
As we age, it’s important to ask someone to listen—and it’s even more ideal when someone can ask us questions, so we can find and articulate the truth within us.
It’s the only “right answer”.
Originally published at dillandigi.com
Follow Dillan of Twitter @dillandigi
—Photo Jacob Bøtter/Flickr
Like The Good Men Project on Facebook