Quite often I sat quietly as I listened in dismay to the serious challenges faced by members of the group. I hesitated to speak up because my situation seemed almost trivial in comparison.
But the counselor was very observant and astute. She recognized that my circumstances were just as impactful for ME, so one evening she asked questions that forced me to open up and reveal the pain points around my relationship. I was very uncomfortable having the spotlight shine on me, and I struggled to put into words the feelings and thoughts I was experiencing. But I knew all this was necessary to uncover the root of my problem.
Based on my responses, the facilitator gave me a homework assignment that involved answering three questions about this relationship. Writing out my answers had a profound impact on my thinking and helped me realize that, at the core of my dilemma, I faced self-esteem issues.
The three questions were:
What do I want?What I discovered was that my want list was long. I found it easy to enumerate the things I was looking for in the relationship. My need list had several items, too, but not as many as the first one. I struggled mightily with what I deserved and came up with only a few responses. I stared at the almost-blank page and pondered why I couldn't come up with more.
What do I need?
What do I deserve?
What I concluded shocked me: I didn't feel worthy of a strong, healthy relationship. As a result of this realization, I had work to do on myself. And it took quite a while before my “deserve” list increased to the size of the other two.
Over the years, I applied these same three questions with clients in my consulting and coaching work, and the insights they gained were consistently profound.
You can use them on the job or in your personal life. You can focus on your relationship with another person such as your spouse, child, friend, boss, or coworker. Or you can answer them regarding your employer, a vendor or a client organization.
If you’re willing to dig deep and provide honest answers, you’ll discover important truths about yourself.
When relationships hit rocky spots, it’s usually easy to see how the other person is contributing to the problem. Far more work is required to inspect your own role. You can cut through a lot of clutter and surface the real issues if each person first takes time to separately answer these three questions, and then the two of you come together to discuss your responses.
You’ll need courage, self-awareness and commitment, but what you learn will be worth the effort.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” - Buddha, Indian founder of Buddhism (B.C. 563-483)