How a really good question can help you make a much-needed change

It’s amazing, the power a really good question has to help you see yourself and your options so much more clearly. 

At one of the Reflect & Connect gatherings I lead, it happened to me! The theme was joy, and we were working with one of my favorite poems: “God Says Yes to Me,” by Kaylin Haught. Here it is:  

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

Isn’t that wonderful? 

And it’s always seemed super-obvious to me that this poem is all about joy. Right? Isn’t it?  

Well, during one of the gatherings, a participant asked a simple question: “What does this poem have to do with joy?” They were genuinely curious. In their mind, the connection was not obvious.

So I had to stop and think: what does this poem have to do with joy?

And in a moment I saw something about myself more clearly than I ever had before: I feel like I need someone to tell me I’m OK. I need permission to do things that bring me joy. 

Huh?! Permission? 

So it would seem! 

In that moment, I realized that I know what brings me joy. I really do. 

But there’s a voice in me, so familiar I hardly know it’s there, that constantly questions whether it’s OK to let myself have those things that bring me joy. 

Now, I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it seems to be how my mind works. Even though I’m a grown woman and I’ve been running my own life for a lot of years now.

So, all right, how would I know if it’s OK to pursue joy? Apparently, I feel like I need to hear it straight from the creator of the universe!

Wow, this was a lot to take in. 

But don’t worry, I’m laughing as I write it down today!

I mean, for a long time I’ve known I was the kind of person who needs to feel like I’m doing things “the right way.” Part of my way of being in the world is that I worry about other people judging me for doing something wrong. Even, being wrong in some fundamental way.  

(If you’re familiar with the Enneagram personality system, you’ve probably guessed that I’m an Enneagram type 1. Oh, yeah. Most definitely!) 

Thinking on all this, I realize I’m probably always going to be a rule-follower. I’m probably always going to worry about doing something wrong. 

But now I understand more clearly why I love this poem so much, and why it has everything to do with joy for me. It’s because the poem lays out the gentlest, most loving, most supportive rule I can imagine being told to follow: Yes, yes, yes. 

And what made that realization possible was one simple, powerful question: What does this poem have to do with joy?

In the coaching work I do, often it’s exactly these kinds of simple, curious questions that open up a whole new universe of self-understanding for clients.

So here’s my invitation to you this week: 

The next time someone asks you a question about yourself and how you see the world, especially if the answer seems really obvious to you, take a moment and really think about it. You might ask yourself: 

  • Why do you see the world that way? 
  • What’s underneath that? 
  • What other perspectives might there be? 
  • What does all this teach you about yourself? 

And then ask yourself the most important question: Now that I understand myself more clearly, how do I want to move forward? What might I do differently now?  

As for me, I’ve been paying attention to that Yes, yes, yes in my life, and trying to say yes to joy more often. 

For example, I’ve been watching a new-to-me fun show, Kim’s Convenience. I love that it makes me laugh, and I get fonder and fonder of each of the characters as I go. 

And last week, I had the pleasure of watching two bunnies play leapfrog in the back yard–far and away the cutest thing I’ve seen this spring.

Although I’m pretty sure I will always want to paragraph my letters. What can I say? My old English-major habits still bring me joy!

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