Is It Me?

Years ago, I attended an intensive personal growth seminar that was aimed at helping people improve the quality of their lives. Over the four grueling days of trainings, about ten hours each day, three life coaches took turns giving lectures, posing questions, and putting us into small groups in which we did activities. On Day One, in order to illustrate the importance of taking responsibility for our actions, one of the coaches told us a story. A true story about a friend – let’s call her Mary – who had complained bitterly about suffering one failed relationship after another. Mary had told our coach that every one of her past boy friends had dumped her, or else she had dumped them. They were all rude, selfish and abusive; and, despite her best efforts to figure this out, she just couldn’t understand why she had such bad luck with men. 

Our coach told us that he invited Mary to consider whether there might be a pattern in her behavior. So, he asked her to answer just one question: In each of these failed relationships, what was the one thing they all had in common? Mary thought and thought, but came up with nothing. Then our coach said to her, “The one thing that was surely present in all these relationships was you. You are the common denominator in all of this.”

Mary was stunned. “You mean it’s my fault that all these men were mean to me?” Notice the flaw in her thinking.

The coach then asked, “Mary, tell me about the people in your life that you can count on, and whom you feel close to. People who accept you unconditionally.”

Mary said that she has no one. She said that she is always fighting with her mother. Her father is not there for her. Her oldest daughter has nothing to do with her. Her husband drinks too much and won’t listen to her. She has stopped to talking to people, because whenever she has tried to share a personal matter with a friend or family member, they twisted her words around and she felt as though they blamed her. She said, “Every one of them has turned their backs on me.” And now, she feels all alone.

What is happening here? What is Mary not seeing? What goes on in her mind that prevents her from taking a close look in the mirror and asking herself, “Is it possible that I have a role to play in my problems? Am I doing this to myself?”

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that some people are able to see themselves and to be honest with themselves, while others cannot? 

I wonder if you know someone who resembles Mary. Someone you care about; someone you’d like to help, if only you could. If so, please understand that you will do more good by asking the right questions, than by trying to advise or to provide solutions. 

Now, some people – not very many – know how to ask the right questions. Either they’re well trained, or they’re especially gifted in that area. However, in case that’s not you, and you’d like to learn how to ask effective questions – in the interest of helping yourself or others – I would be delighted to work with you. Please give me a call at 219-309-3928.

Thanks for reading!