8 Great Questions for complex situations

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One of my coach trainers, Alan Seale, has developed eight profound, simple, direct questions to approach complex situations in a way that goes beyond the analytical mind and cuts through to the essence. I find that asking myself a few of these before making a decision or moving to action can open up new possibilities of love and softness. 

You might inhale deep into your belly and open your heart, as you begin asking yourself the eight questions about whatever's going on in your life right now.

1. What is this situation really about?

By opening to your larger intuitive mind, you can begin to sense down through the layers of complexity and interlocking details to discover what the situation is really about. Imagine that you can drop down underneath the situation to sense it from a deeper, quieter perspective - below the "story". Or take a step back from it. What do your intuitive senses tell you this is really about? What do you sense is important to pay attention to?

2. What is the driving force behind what is happening?

What motivations, intentions, or what Brené Brown calls "stealth expectations" are at work, even if yet unspoken? What is important to notice? What if there was honesty about what each person really wants?

3. What is this situation trying to tell us? (Beyond the obvious)

When you let go of trying to solve the problem and instead treat what is happening as a message asking for your attention, you have a better chance of gaining insight. Turning to your gut for guidance, allow the layers to be uncovered and explore what is emerging in your awareness. 

4. What wants to happen?

The question is not, “What do you want?” Rather, you are listening to the bigger context to sense and feel what wants to happen in service of a greater good. See if "What Wants to Happen" (which many people call God) to show you a next step. You're likely to know one next step, even if you don't know several next steps yet. Or you might know what direction What Wants to Happen is moving. 

5. What direction is the energy trending toward right now?

Is the energy trend serving what wants to happen—the bigger picture? Energy is always in motion, either expanding or contracting, coming together or apart, moving toward or against. Is the current direction serving the greater good? If not, how can the energy shift direction. What Wants to Happen might align with your personal interests, or it might be inviting you to join in with something bigger. 

6. What is the situation asking for from us now? How is it asking us to show up?

Is the situation asking for courage, connection, playfulness, risk-taking, or vulnerability? Is it inviting you to a new role, at least temporarily? Or to try on a new trait that you don't use often?

7. What am I / are we learning?

Shame or blame for what you should or should not have done or known are rarely the most helpful. Instead, take everything that happens as neutral feedback, there to provide a path toward valuable change. What is wanting to be learned here?

8. What is the next step?

Notice: taking action is the LAST question, not the first one. Action is meant to follow insight, so going too quickly toward “What do we do now?” can cause us to miss important information from many sources. 


Asking these questions may feel strange at first, or like it will take too much time. However, when you get used to tuning into your heart and gut and soul and greater wisdom, you might find that you can't afford NOT to take the time to pay deeper attention.

You might practice in the little situations - yes, I once had a client whose deep, life-changing "a-ha moment" came from asking these kinds of questions around whether she wanted to bring the medium-sized or large-sized bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken to a party.

I'll be interested to hear where these 8 questions take you, as you explore what greater wisdom and purpose is inviting you to. You can share your insights on our Awaken Community Page.

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