1) What do you really want?
How do you really want to feel?
2) How's it working for you to think, feel, say and do what I do now?
Does the way I think or look at things allow you to feel the way you'd really like to?
Does what you think, feel, say and do allow you to get what you really want, or make
Does it make your life better or worse to think, feel, say and do what you do now?
3) If you keep thinking, feeling, saying and doing what you do now, will it be easier or harder
to get what you might want in the future?
If you keep thinking or looking at things the way you do now, will it be easier or harder
to feel the way you want to in the future?
When someone is involved in a relationship, there's an additional question:
4) If someone else thinks, feels, says or does things the way this person does, are you likely
to ever get what you really want with them, or from them?
Are you likely to ever feel the way you want to with them?
It's perfectly understandable for people to think, feel, say and
do things that make them feel worse than they need to, and
that make their lives worse instead of better. It's part of
being human. However, no one reacts well to being told
they are doing something wrong. That's often especially
true for young people, especially those who have been told
many time before that they are. It's especially true if they've
been told in some harsh, demeaning way. Young people
can become very sensitive to criticism, even if it's intended to
be constructive. Many will carry this sensitivity into their adult
That's why it's much better for all concerned if people can
learn to self-evaluate their own thoughts, feelings and
actions. They can do so by asking some simple questions of
themselves. We can teach and encourage them to do so by
constantly asking them the same questions in a caring way.
There's a saying in science that progress often doesn't
occur until someone learns to ask the right questions.
That's true in everyday life as well. The answers to these
questions are usually obvious. They just need to be asked.
So many young people have heard more about what they
do wrong than what they do right their entire lives. They
become very sensitive to anything approaching criticism.
They often put up defenses immediately when something
sounds like criticism. Those defenses preclude them from
the kind of self-reflection that could and needs to be done.
That's especially true when they resort to anger in
self-defense. Anger gives them a false sense of power,
righteousness, permission and protection that makes it
harder to do self-reflection.
One of my favorite sayings is from Johh F. Kennedy.
"The problems of man are man-made. They can
be solved by man" John F. Kennedy
There's a formula that's used in the program Active
Parenting which explains how life unfolds.
EVENT > THINK > FEEL > DO
Something happens, or people imagine something
happening. They generate thoughts about it. That's what
the brain does. Those thoughts will sometimes cause
feelings. The thoughts or attitudes someone has about
what happened, themselves, others and life will often
simultaneously father mistaken goals and behavior intended
to achieve them. Their feelings will be the driving force
behind such behavior. By what they say and do, people
often create for themselves and others what many might call
"problems". Technically, such "problems" are really just
new events for them to think about.
Some people have a lot more adverse events to deal with
than others. Some people manufacture adversity
needlessly out of their events. Some deal with their
adverse life events better than others. Some people
generate a dysfunctional amount of emotion. Some people
say and do things that make their own and others lives
Young people usually tolerate being asked such questions
much better than being told what they did wrong one more
time. However, like most things, there's a science and an
art to asking such questions. The science is in the words
chosen. The art is in how you ask them, when, where and
It always helps to have established an atmosphere of UOA
or Unconditional Other Acceptance. It also helps to have
repeatedly encouraged the other person to have USA, or
worse instead of better. For example, young people who
struggle often have had someone else in their lives who has
said or done something to them. All these things can be
traced back to what people choose to THINK, or how they
or others in their lives chose to look at things. Thoughts
cause feelings, not events. Attitude is always the father of
behavior. This brings me to my other favorite saying from
"You can't solve a problem with the same mind that
created it" Albert Einstein
The way you think, feel, say and do things may be working
for you. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. By "broke" I mean you're
generating a dysfunctional amount of emotion, and saying
and doing things that make your life worse instead of
better. By "broke" I mean that you're not getting what you
really want in life for all your effort. If things are "broke",
you'll need to start THINKING differently about yourself,
others, life and what happens to you. The good news is
you will always have choices to make as to how you think or
look at things. Whatever way you choose will be
understandable given what you've been through in your
life. But you always have choices, choices that you alone
can make, and no one can make for you. That's where your
power and control over your destiny resides and come
from. Don't give it away. Use it. It's like that old saying,
use it or lose it.