Four life questions to answer on your path to discovery and self-care

This blog was written for and published by Future Females | January 2018


Upon passing a dad, loading his wailing Grade-R daughter into the car after school, I heard him ask the all too familiar “Why are you crying?” with a tone of voice which said “Seriously?” while trying to remain positive and empathetic at the same time.  I had empathy with him, for as a parent, this is one of the standard rhetorical questions you consistently and repeatedly find yourself asking your child or children.  Accumulated over a few years, my list or rhetorical questions are:


Why are you crying?

Where are you?

What are you doing?

Why did you do that?


When you’re little, there are usually two standard answers to these questions: “I don’t know” or “Nothing”, accompanied by the shrug of the shoulders and a lot of additional and much dramatized sobbing.

Considering the dilemma of the dad on why his daughter was upset, I realised that these four questions really resonate through your life into adulthood.

You might still find yourself crying uncontrollably at odd times, but hopefully not getting lost in your mother’s wardrobe any more or drawing with markers on the furniture, cutting your own hair short on your scalp with a blunt scissors or painting the dog.

In the normal course of a responsible life, you should be checking in constantly that you are taking care of yourself, not only through the obvious things like diet and exercise, but the parts of you which makes everything go round: your mind and heart.

The kid questions work quite well for this.   As an adult, we are consistently faced with our issues and should be able to answer them properly and with intelligence.  But if you “don’t know” or are feeling your shoulders shrugging instead of an explanation, you have a bit more work to do.


Why are you crying?

Don’t know about yours, but my mom always told me that crying solved nothing.  I never thought that this advice was particularly helpful, as crying is an involuntary act.  The last wall breaking down when your despondency or anger has finally taken over and you are unable to see the solution. It’s a “I really, really don’t know what to do” response.

Even though the physical act of crying makes you feel much worse, it also makes you feel a lot better, at least for a little while. So crying, sometimes, is a great thing. Turns out, however, my mother was right. It solves nothing.

In the greater scheme of things and turning onto the more serious side of sadness, feelings of despair and overall helplessness and anger, you are going to have a much better quality of life if you understand these emotions and get to the bottom of them.  Emotions are most often mere symptoms of underlying issues and the first step to recovery is admitting that you are having these feelings.   It’s often the most progressive to have a chat with a professional about stuff you feel are clouding your judgement, controlling your life and ruining your relationships.  Such a person is trained in eradicating old, poisonous weeds responsible for making your eyes water.

We all too often blame our genes or our star signs for just being the way we are.  “Oh you know, as a Leo, I have a fiery temper” or “We Scorpios get irritated so quickly”.  With respect: bull dust.

Your short temper, your irritation, stems from an underlying issue that you are not dealing with.  Emotions that you are bottling up over time and which manifest into certain behaviours.  Perhaps you are feeling out of control, overwhelmed, stressed out.  It’s not you, it’s something within you, which is temporary or around you that can be sorted out.

Ask yourself: why are you crying? Get to the source of the wound, get it checked out and let it heal.


Where are you?

Sheesh. One of the scariest questions ever. Especially if “I don’t know” and shoulder shrugging are your answers.

As part of the process of making sure that you’re ok, you need to consistently check where you are.  Not only on your career path or what’s going on with your relationships, but where are you? Your mind, your soul and are you happy with where you’re at?

If not, it’s so vital that you make sure you move into the direction you want to be in, I can’t begin to explain the importance of it.  If you’re not going where you want to be in, you’re walking someone else’s path and pretty sure wearing someone’s else’s shoes and the you that you need to be has been lost.


What are you doing?

Sometimes we live from idea to idea, from dream to dream and we sort of float in-between.  The career we want to have one day, the happiness we are striving for, the money we will be making.  Of course all of this is complete hogwash if you’re not actually doing anything to achieve it.  As much as what you are doing is making sure you are walking in the right direction, the crux is that you are walking.

Your behaviours and the way you carry yourself also come into play here.  How are you doing what you’re doing?  Are you doing it without considering the other person walking next to you, perhaps you’re shoving people out of your way to get ahead? §

Are you walking with a blindfold, with only the path securely ahead of you or are you walking, a little slower perhaps, but with more purpose on building relationships and friendships on your journey.

You will reach your destination whether you do it kindly and considerately or not.  I guess it’s the quality of the journey that you will be sacrificing and the missed opportunities of what you could have meant and could have done for others.  Service to others in what you are doing is a richness of life that you cannot achieve in any other way.  Why would you want to miss out on that?


Why did you do that?

Now here are some feelings we all know well.  Embarrassment. Shame. Regret. Self-pity. Self-chastisement. Bitterness.  All the mistakes you have made, haunt you in the middle of the night.  That one stupid judgement call, which turned out to have huge consequences.  Those horrid movies you replay in your head over and over again.  The fictitious arguments you have with people after the fact about things you wanted to say but will never say, or the things you should’ve done but didn’t.  Four words to the wise: Let. That. Ish. Go.

As long as you learn from every time you fail. As long as you get up every time you fall.  That’s what’s important. Character is built out of hardship and challenges.  Rock bottom has built more heroes than privilege.  You know the motivational posters well.  The secret is to not stay where you have collapsed and by darn it, not to let the bastards get you down.

The nitty-gritty is: you only have you. In whatever vessel you are in: with whatever skin colour, body shape, hair type, nose length or weight.  All these things are on the outside.  The things you were born with and the things you cannot change.

What really matters are the things you can change: it’s what’s on your inside: your behavior, your mindset, your attitude.  That’s what self-care is all about.  To work, work, work, work on becoming your best self. It might take a lifetime to know the answers to all the questions.  Just never stop questioning.


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