Minimalism is about letting go of things that hinder, or hold us back, so we can focus on more important things. Although many times it is discussed in the context of our excess material possessions and clutter in our homes and how to simplify those, but it can also be applied to the non-material realm of our lives.
Brené Brown in her book “Daring Greatly” says, “Now as adults we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection — to be the person whom we long to be — we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up and let our selves be seen.”
In recent weeks I’ve been repeatedly challenged with an area of vulnerability. It was asking questions. At first thought it may not seem like an issue of vulnerability, but questions hold a lot of potential and on more than one occasion I just outright did not want to ask. I’m not talking about the, “What’s for dinner?” or “Where’s my charger” questions.
Here are 3 types of questions you can ask, and knowing these might help as we navigate our apprehensions in asking.
1. There are questions about expectations.
It could be our own expectations or another’s. In my opinion we need to ask about expectations much more than we do. By asking and discussing expectations we can avoid some conflict and disappointment. We can be more intentional in our most closest relationships when we know more about others’ hopes, dreams, and needs.
2. There are questions that ask for help from others.
It might be as simple as asking a neighbor if you can borrow a tool or it could be reaching out to a professional in an area you’re wanting to grow in. Being brave and asking questions can lead to increased community. When I’ve humbled myself to ask for help from a neighbor, it brings a little more closeness into our relationship and our street. We begin trusting one another more and in turn caring for one another more.
3. There are questions of opportunity.
There may be risks we want to take and things we want to try. It could be an idea for your work you need to ask your team leader for the chance to test it. Or you may want to launch a new business and in turn are asking is this marketable and needed. This one can really be putting your heart and soul on the line as it is often something we care greatly about.
This last year had a lot of changes for me. Sometimes it was small changes within our family’s way of doing life, sometimes it was bigger decisions that had to be made that could greatly alter our lives. As we navigated those changes, there were multiple times I had to ask questions and you know what, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
Sometimes, particularly when we’re trying to be brave and live intentionally, questions can hold a lot of fear. Why is that? The question we need to ask pertains to something that holds meaning and value to us.
We fear the unknown. We fear the disapproval of others. We fear appearing ignorant. Sometimes it is an issue of our pride.
Asking a question after all means you don’t know the answer, and you are looking for more than what you know. So how can we be brave and ask?
1. Recognize the fear and lean into it.
If you’re nervous to approach the person, remember that though they may be well respected or well known, they are a person with hopes, dreams, and fears the same as any of us.
2. Know your why.
If a question is bringing both hope and fear to you then there must be good reasons as to why you want to ask it in the first place. Take some time to think through your why. Is it a new direction you want your life to take? Is it asking for help in an area you’re struggling with?
3. You might not get the answer you were hoping for, but ask anyways.
At first thought we fear hearing “no” but I would bet even if you don’t get the answer you wanted, you will still be glad you asked. I’d rather ask and know, than to not ask and always wonder.
As I sit here writing this, I’ve thought of a few more questions that have been dancing around in my heart and mind — ones I now know I need to seek out the answer. Reflecting about my recent incidents of hesitation when I needed to ask a question, I have been reminded of two things.
The first is that so many people are willing and even desiring to help and give. The second is that by not asking the question, I am basically answering for a person or organization and in light of the first point that many people want to help, I am robbing them of a chance.
In this new year, let us not only consider what material possession we can release, but also what hesitations we need to let go of so we can step out in courage and pursue the life we want.
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