There are certain questions that most of us avoid – they make us uncomfortable and force us to reevaluate our life choices.
These questions aren’t particularly complex, but when we really think about them, they bring up deeply hidden feelings, desires, and sometimes even regrets.
And that’s exactly why we need to confront such questions. Because if we never push through the discomfort and fear, we’re doomed to stay stuck in what are often unhappy cycles.
So, without further ado, here are 10 questions we rarely ask ourselves (because we’re scared of the answer).
1) Am I happy?
It’s a simple question, right?
And on a daily basis, we’re pretty good at identifying when we’re happy or sad.
But when was the last time you sat with yourself and thought about whether you’re happy in general with your life?
I think a lot of people, myself included, slip into autopilot. We go to work every day, even if it’s not fulfilling. We stay put in friendships or relationships that may or may not be good for us. The same goes for our habits and lifestyles.
When we stop to ask whether these things make us happy, we’re forced to reevaluate our life choices and decisions.
The “simple” question suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.
But as I mentioned earlier, that’s exactly why we should ask it, and often. After all, only we have the power to create our own happiness.
2) What are my core values, and am I living according to them?
Thanks to my work as a writer, I was forced to ask myself this question a few years back. I realized I was giving advice to people without following it myself.
Although it was scary to admit that I had no clue what my core values were, it did help me understand why I felt unfulfilled in life. Lost, even, without direction or purpose.
So, I get it if the question seems too big or too overwhelming. But you can start small. I actually recommend this free “Values Exercise and Checklist”…it helped me break things down into manageable chunks.
The truth is, when you do get clear on your values and start living according to them, life becomes less complicated and more rewarding.
You turn the focus onto what makes YOU happy and stop living for everyone else.
3) Am I in the right career?
Ah, now this is a scary question. You’ve potentially studied for years or worked your way up in a company, only to now question whether it’s the right path for you.
No wonder so few of us ask this question. Just the idea of quitting, retraining in another field, loss of finances, and making such a big life change can put anyone off.
But as I mentioned before, don’t let fear stop you from reevaluating your career choice.
When you feel yourself panicking, remember – you don’t need to make any rushed decisions right now.
If you do determine you’d be happier doing something else, consider learning those new skills in your spare time. Keep your regular job until you’re ready – mentally and financially – to make the change.
Most of these questions are scary because they’re overwhelming. But as Desmond Tutu famously once said:
“There’s only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”
4) Is this relationship good for me?
I think most of us are guilty of staying in relationships that aren’t healthy for longer than we should.
Whether it’s fear of being single again, or simply being “comfortable” even if we’re not fulfilled or truly happy, we stay put.
And I get it – sometimes, it’s not that you have a bad partner. They could be a lovely person. But they’re just not right for you.
This can also put you off from considering this question because you don’t want to seem ungrateful or hurt the other person, especially if there aren’t major red flags.
On the other hand, if there are issues in your relationship, asking this question can force you to go deeper into your feelings, such as self-respect and expectations.
But remember, it’s never too late. Being single might sound scary, but it’s not worse than staying unhappy.
5) What am I most afraid of?
Now, this is another question we rarely ask ourselves, ironically, because we’re probably too scared to find out the answers.
Usually, when you go deeper into it, it’s not spiders or sharks or monsters under the bed that truly scare us.
It’s losing loved ones. It’s dying with regrets. It’s sabotaging opportunities because we think we aren’t good enough.
Those are the things that scare most of us to the core, so much so that we prefer to bury these feelings deep, rarely visiting them.
But what if you confronted them head-on?
Maybe you’d spend more time with your loved ones before the inevitable happens. Perhaps you’d do things you’ve been putting off so you don’t die with regrets.
Just something to think about…
6) If money were no object, what would I do with my life?
I think the reason this question is scary is because deep down, we know that we’re not chasing our dreams due to financial reasons.
It might make you think about unfulfilled desires or aspirations, the goals you once had before bills, mortgages, and kids came along.
And that sucks.
So, I’m not going to be one to say, “Don’t worry about money! Just follow your dreams and everything will work out.”….That’s just unrealistic and bad advice.
However, I will say that the question is worth considering. Because perhaps there’s a chance to still follow those dreams to some degree.
I always wanted to be an interior designer. I love writing, but if I didn’t have to worry about money, I’d spend all day comparing color samples and sourcing vintage furniture.
When I realized this, I decided to do interior design on a small scale – as a hobby. In a way, I’m fulfilling one part of my dream, while still supporting myself through my writing.
So it goes to show – you could achieve the same. But it all starts with asking the question.
7) Am I living for myself or for others?
Funnily enough, my husband touched upon this after a breakthrough therapy session; he realized he’s chased other people’s approval all his life.
Luckily, he had his therapist on hand to work through these complex emotions. One thing he said stuck with me though:
“How much of me is actually me, then? If everything I’ve done has been for everyone else?”
You might feel the same if you also live life trying to please everyone around you.
This will undoubtedly force you to reevaluate your decisions, but also the people around you.
Some life changes are just too big to face alone, so in this case I recommend seeking some form of therapy. A professional can help you learn how to prioritize yourself and set strong boundaries with others.
8) What do I want my legacy to be?
Last night I finished watching the series “Painkiller” on Netflix. Long story short, but the villains in this real-life story started off focussing on their family name and how it’ll be remembered for years to come.
This quickly got sidetracked when money and greed came into play. Now their legacy will always be remembered for killing thousands of Americans through drug addiction.
But it got me thinking: What will my legacy be when I’m gone?
It’s a really daunting question and I can understand why most of us rarely ask it.
Because then we’re forced to confront our reality – the lives we’re living, the impact we’re having on the world (or lack of it), and what we could be doing instead.
But whilst it might be scary, it could be the catalyst for making meaningful changes.
9) Do I like who I am becoming?
Another question we rarely ask ourselves, but probably should do often, is whether we like the person we are currently and who we’re becoming.
No matter your age, we’re always evolving and changing, so this exercise isn’t reserved for younger people.
I was forced to ask this question years ago – I had moved to Italy, got in with a toxic group of friends, and as much as I hate to admit it, became quite a bitchy person.
When I moved back to the UK, I had to sit with myself and admit that I didn’t like the person I was.
So I get how daunting this question is.
But like me, it’s only until you force yourself to look at your behavior that you can start making positive changes.
10) If I died tomorrow, what would be my biggest regret?
Would it be not following your dreams? Refusing to speak to your family after a fallout? Being an absent parent?
We don’t ask ourselves this question often enough because it would require making real changes.
You know deep down what your regrets would be. But it’s easier to ignore them.
Only when we think of death does life seem so fragile and short.
But perhaps this fragile life would be lived more authentically and meaningfully if we did confront these tough questions though.
As you’ve probably gathered, most of these questions are scary because they force us to self-reflect. It’s worth working through the fear though, because on the other side lies opportunity for improvement and growth.