This is a part of The Cultivate Project. A once a month project where I explore mindsets and practices we can cultivate and nurture to bring more care to ourselves and others.
For a short time the Question collection is available as an art print or notebooks or sketchbooks. But they are only available until March, 15th 2021. After that I’ll move on to the next month’s cultivation project.
We are getting deep this month – and probably a little dirty because there’s some hard shoveling to do when we question.
I thought about naming this episode and work of art mindfulness, but I wanted something a little more grittier. Whereas mindfulness sounds so soothing and peaceful. Mindfulness is what I’m talking about but it’s harder work than what it sounds like. It’s truly getting in there and questioning. Questioning yourself and questioning others. It’s about being curious and seeing where that curiosity takes you. And based on my own experience, if you truly question and allow those questions to take you anywhere, then you will often have a few surprising revelations and answers.
Click the link in the show notes to see the collection and keep listening to hear my ideas on questioning, curiosity, and mindfulness.
Let me begin by first saying this month is a tough one for me to talk about by integrating my own experiences. Not because I don’t have many or it was hard to recall any, but because I’ve had so many and many of those are deeply personal experiences.
But I’ll begin with an easy one:
I realized several years ago when I first really started to cultivate mindfulness, that I’d find myself stressed or in a mood in the mornings. Then I questioned what was making me feel this way every morning. I had the thought it may be the fact I checked my email as soon as I woke up. There were things I needed to do there and all of the morning news. Definitely enough to put some stress on me. I quit doing it and instead started with quiet time, gratitude and prayer. What a huge difference it made in my day.
I am a big feelings type of person. When I have a feeling it’s huge inside and often overwhelming. In the past I learned to cope with this by walling off those feelings and pushing them down. I’ve learned now through mindfulness and questioning to allow these feelings to occur and instead of walling them off I begin with curiosity and allowing their expression. My only coping now is to explore why I’m having those feelings and to release those feelings through creating art.
This is all too apparent over and over again when I feel frustrations with other people. I’ll use my husband as an example for the sheer reason of proximity.
We have a great marriage, of course imperfect because we are two people living and growing together with two other little people we are trying to help grow. Its tough at times but there’s no one else I could or would want to do it with. It’s in the tough times frustrations arise and often in my head I want to blame my husband or avoid the issue by making it his problem. But I’ve find if I take the quiet time to question my feelings and question what’s actually going on, I find 50 percent of time its not about him but about me and things I need to deal with or let go. The other 49 percent of the time, I find he needs instead my empathy or encouragement and I’m not giving it. So 99% of the time, if I sit and ask what are my own feelings and why am I feeling this way then ask what his feelings or perspective might be, I become aware that there is an action I can take and me making that step often leads to resolution and most of all leads to me learning something.
So why do this? Why take the time a nd put it all on yourself? Aren’t relationships two way streets? Yes I believe they are but that means starting with yourself – reflecting on your own whys and reflecting on the possibility there may be a different perspective is the first step. Yes, the other person maybe has work to do to, but like I said 99 percent of the time, I find I also have work.
I think this is why it’s so hard. It’s much easier to avoid the situation (one of my fallbacks) or to blame others, or at the very least become frustrated ‘because’ of others. But I promise, by reflecting and questioning yourself and allowing other perspectives, you open the door to healing, to growth and to change which will lead to more happiness.
How to do this? This is ultimately for you to decide what works for you. I’m a 9 on the enneagram and I find it super helpful to remove myself and allow myself to reflect, asking myself exactly what I feel and why. Once I can flesh that out, I begin asking what might really be going on, what other perspective might exist. It may sound like I’m overanalyzing at this point but it doesn’t occur that deeply – it’s more of an acknowledgement that another perspective might be there without assuming anything.
Even when there is no conflict or frustration, I’m still questioning, reading other perspectives unlike my own, following people who have a different way of thinking on social media because I find it to be interesting and every now and then I have a shift where I’ve learned something and I know there is growth.
I encourage you to cultivate questions. Questions about everything from your own thoughts and feelings to other people’s ideas. I encourage you to ask yourself when you have negative feelings what might be causing them. Is it something you are doing like I was by checking my email. And I want to encourage you to get to know many different people, especially people unlike you. (I’m still working on this). Most of all start asking why.
This is hard. It’s hard because you’ll be taking a risk – one that takes humility because it may mean you need healing or that you may need to apologize, or you may need to do the deep work of growth. But at the heart of it all, questions and mindfulness are all about learning. And learning leads to healthy growth and change.
Question is the fifth collection in the Cultivate Project Series. I am offering an art print, calendar and notebooks that say Question.
The release of this collection will only be for a 2 week window starting until March 15, 2022, and I don’t want you to miss it.