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Begin with quiet and stillness. Focus on your breath for a few minutes. Be curious and a little flexible. Answer every question. (This is not about being a good writer.) Get a paper and pencil. Write "1." Answer that question. Write what comes to you. Then "2." Answer. And so on.

The Questions PDF

1. What is your difficulty?

Begin with "I..." or "My...." In other words, use a first person narrative. What exactly happened?

2. What feelings arise?

This question takes courage because it invites you to get in touch with what hurts. A Feelings List might be helpful.

3. How is it affecting you?

Let your experience tell you how your difficulty is showing up in the physical (body, places, things), emotional (feelings), intellectual (mind—beliefs, thoughts, ideas), and spiritual aspects of your life (where you find meaning, connection, and value). What is the story you're telling yourself about this problem? How are you coping?

4. What is your part in the difficulty?

This question helps uncover your participation in the difficulty and is a reminder that we are empowered and can work with our beliefs, our thoughts, our feelings, our words, and our actions.

5. What are you learning about yourself, the difficulty, others?

Consider your difficulty as an experience that wants to teach you something. Be curious about what helps and what hinders. Write about your habits and patterns, realizations.

6. What can you shift in your thinking about yourself, the difficulty or others?

This is the let go question. Let yourself play with a new perspective or interpretation as a way to gain insight. For example, imagine looking at your experience from another point of view, another point in time, or as another person in a similar situation.

7. How do you choose to respond to or work with your difficulty?

Think of your chosen response as an experiment, one that does not escalate your difficulty nor polarize or harm you or others.

8. How might you use what you're learning from this difficulty?

This question suggests that our problem can help us in the future.

This is magic.

After answering the questions, read what you wrote out loud to someone you trust. Tell the person to quietly listen from your point of view without offering advice or solutions. This will allow you to hear yourself and gain insight. (I created a project to help improve empathetic listening. It's here.)

Or send your response to me. I consider it a privilege to listen.