07/07/2010 09:11 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

3 Essential Questions You Must Ask Yourself When You're Stuck

Taking a gander at this week's news, we've seen an ample share of finger pointing, and forecasts of more gloom to come. Catchy phrases like "double dip recession" pepper the national and international news. Sure, amping up fear buys readership, just as surely as playing the blame game. Exploiting what raises our blood pressure sells. The question is: are we using the same unhealthy approach in our own lives? Check out where you've been in the last two weeks to find out. Identify the central challenge you've been facing. How have you interpreted your circumstance or condition? What story have you been telling yourself? Here are a few examples, to get you started:

  • A woman from Nepal tells me that it is her fault that her 21-year old-daughter died from Leukemia, saying: "If I'd been a better mother she wouldn't have gotten sick." Really?
  • Seven-year-old Alex, whose family is from Mexico, tells himself the story that if " ... it weren't for me, my mother wouldn't have left us. I should have cleaned up my room." Really? Is this really why mama left Dodge?
  • Mario, a 34-year-old man from Sicily confides: " ... the reason I never hold down a job is that my bosses are all jerks." Really?

Martin, a father in tears, whose five-year-old daughter, Isabella, is in critical care for a complicated pnemonia, tells the nurse: "If I didn't work two jobs and were home more, Bella wouldn't have gotten sick." Is that so?

Maybe your situation seems tamer, by comparison. Perhaps your move, which was reputed to take one day, has taken five or more for the movers to get the job done. Or you may have found yourself waiting for Quest to show up on the appointed day, but they were "no shows." Maybe your merchant sales system has failed and you've been unable to collect payment for two weeks for services rendered, and your phone system has gone so haywire that your friends, family, and business contacts believe you've fallen off the face of the planet. Hey, maybe the painter who promised to have your home repainted in four days has turned into a 32-day project, and he's still not finished. Could be that that household furniture you ordered which was due three weeks ago, has not arrived, and you are now standing for your meals because there's no place to sit down, with the exception of your haunches.

Sound unreal? I'd agree, except that the fact is that the last paragraph has been our experience since my last piece here on the HP. Since then, our move to an island, as well as my offices across the lake, has been the genesis of all sorts of nonsense. The fact is that all these little unexpected twists and turns have given me pause. When you're in "surround sound," juggling unforeseen situations that each require immediate attention in order to handle, what we call in healthcare, "activities of daily living," there's a very real opportunity for scrutiny, and dare I say it, growth!

Three Essential Questions You Must Ask Yourself to Get Back into the Flow of Life.
  1. Are you making matters worse by the story you're telling? As author of your story, are you weaving the tale in a way that's making matters worse for little old you? Because if you are, my friend, you are turning your body and mind into a toxic waste dump. Not that you'd be alone! I've had my own share of connecting dots that have no business being connected. Sure, I can dwell on the man from Quest, or the painter, or the furniture delivery guy, or the furniture company, or the movers, who did not do what they agreed to do. I can plummet into a curmudgeonly diatribe about how "people don't keep their word anymore." I can stomp my feet and let a hissy fit go on far too long. But as long as I tell myself the story, like Mario, that the other guy is the jerk, does this really solve the problem before us? Coming into solution is inversely related to assigning blame.
  2. Is the story I'm telling myself true?
    I'll bet that the painter, the mover, Quest guy, and the guy in Merhant Sales for Bank of America that didn't return phone calls for over a week, have someone in their lives who love them. I'll bet that every single person they know would not agree with the "jerk diagnosis." When we suffer disappointment, almost all of us fall into the unproductive pit of personalizing what is not personal. If you want to feel better, the nanosecond you find yourself personalizing, knock it off. Forgive yourself for being human. Bless yourself for having the intelligence to grow from what's happening. For more on this, bookmark July 21st, and check out "Revising Your Story," a part of the "Coming Home to Yourself Program," at
  3. What is going on right now?
    The way you interpret the happenings in your life carries tremendous power. Depending on the way you tell your story, you either destroy well-being in the moment, or heal it.
    If I want to move forward with maximum ease, tranquility, joy and love, I do well to ask myself the following that Ezra Bayda puts this way:

    "What is going on RIGHT NOW?"

    I love this question, which is not only a Buddhist inquiry, but shows up in all forms of meditation, cross-culturally. If you practice asking yourself this question every day, in all sorts of daily situations, you will find gold awaiting. For one, you will notice that what is going on has little to do with what you believe. Discovering this one gift provides the "Truth that sets you free." Who doesn't want that these days? You do want to have more joy in your life, right? You certainly deserve it. You are one of the Love Project's finest expressions. Trust me.
    So, my friend, what IS going on right now? What's helped you release the unproductive stories you tell yourself? What helps you get back into the flow of your life, when you've gotten stuck? What prolongs your stay in the Land of Stuckness? What would you suggest to those who are just getting started? What might you say to the individuals who graciously shared their stories here?
  4. Please note that by mid July, you may explore "Revising Your Story," a part of the "Coming Home to Yourself Program," at Check the Shopping Cart there after 7/21/10, for this, and a special Teleconference Autumn 2010, in response to reader requests. Drop by and bring your friends. Follow Dr. Cara Barker on
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