Over the past several weeks, I have been asking the same four questions.

This set of four questions has been my anchor. For pretty much everything.

I ask these four questions when I enter things. Before conversations. Before meetings, meals, decisions. Another way of preparing for the voyage. Or to say, Hello, Day.

It’s been hard for me to write, hard to explain what’s been going on. But these four questions keep bringing me back to certain internal truths that are steadying and reassuring.

The four questions.

I took these from a book called Crucial Conversations. It’s supposed to be a technique for communication, but I’ve been applying it to inanimate objects, monsters, hopes, ideas and anything else I run into.

The first question is about what I want for me.

The second question is about what I want for [the other ___________ involved]. In the book, they’re imagining that there is a person on the other end. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. But there is something that you’re encountering.

The third question is what you want for that relationship, between you and X.

I think the fourth question is: “How would I behave if that were true?”

I have stuff about behaving, so my version is usually more like, “What might I be doing differently assuming that’s really what I want?”

But basically the question points out that there are places where we’re not acting in accordance with the thing we really want. And that there are ways to be more harmonious with the wanting. I like that.

Okay, I don’t always like it. But I find it useful.

Anyway, here is what this looks like in action.

Hello, experience of sadness that is not mine.

1) What do I want for me in relation to this sadness?

I want to remember that now is not then.

I want to let the sadness take a new form. I want to trust that this is happening in the right way.

I want to not hide my powers. This is the closeted thing. I want to be out in my weeetchy-ness but quietly, safely.

2) What do I want for the sadness?

I want to see what is underneath the sadness, which is radiant love. Yes, I said it. Fine.

I want any distortions hiding inside the sadness to be lovingly destroyed. I can do that with SHIVA NATA!

I want the sadness to feel safe. I want the sadness to know that now is not then. We got through it.

Sad self: But what if there is no safety?
Wise me: That is a question that comes from THEN. This requires a re-adjustment of your filters. Re-filter it.
Sad self: There was always love and I couldn’t see it because of the filters?
Wise me: We are constantly replacing the filters. That’s what Shiva Nata does. It is a filter-replacer.

3 What do I want for the relationship with the sadness?

I want us to go deeper than the sadness. The sadness is surface. But under the sadness is the quality of dedication. I want a rededication.

I want to recognize that the sadness is a distortion of PRESENCE. I am allowed to have sadness. And when I am not believing the story that the sadness tells, I am present.

4) And what would I be doing if this were what I really and truly wanted?

I would choose the filter.

I would take time to learn more about the version of me who knows these wise things.

I would change the costume. I would spend more time talking to sad me and giving her safe rooms to recover in. I will do that!

Hello, conversation that I am not looking forward to.

1. What do I want for ME?

Peacefulness. Peace of mind. Being grounded, stable and connected to myself.

Isolation, as in: the cutting of the cords. Sovereignty. Standing in my power.

Not putting up with crap. Invoking the power of NAQICA! Not A Question I Can Answer.

Relief. Sweetness. To take in the essence of love and support without all the rules and trappings, the demands and expectations.

2. What do I want for them?

Also peacefulness. Also being grounded, stable and connected to themselves.

I want them to feel happy. We may not have a great relationship but we can have a warm and pleasant conversation.

3. What do I want for the relationship?

Ease and spaciousness.

4. How would I behave if that were what I truly wanted?

Well, I think I would set aside time to make the call. But I would wait to call until I felt strong and capable. I would wait for the clear knowing. And I’d want a really strong force field.

Hello, getting ready for a holiday.

What do I really want for me?

I want ease, safety, encouragement, the feeling of being supported. I want a lovely picnic-like meal, with flowers, following a slow, deep practice of sun salutations.

What do I really want for this holiday?

To feel celebratory, joyful and to be about freedom in every way.

What do I really want for the relationship between me and the holiday?

A welcoming. To come home to each other and be happy to be together.

And how would I behave if I really and truly wanted these things?

I would buy flowers. I would go to the safe place. I would put the tablecloth out.

I would know that taking the time for this is not taking time away from Stompopolis, it’s contributing. I would take deep breaths and commit to a peaceful peace-filled experience.

Hello, writer’s block.

What do I really want for me?

I want steadiness. I want to reconnect to my sense of steadiness.

And, weirdly, I want to dissolve into steadiness. Which doesn’t sound really steady, but that is how it feels.

Almost as if I’ve lost my connection to organic form and so I keep running into structures of my own creation that are not relevant or true for me anymore.

So the way back into form is to release the forms. See, Shiva Nata again.

Also there is something in there about a version of me who is feeling powerless and upset, because of a real-life situation. And she needs some attention.

I also want to spend some time with “What’s true and what’s also true?“, because you know what’s also true? I have actually been writing up a storm on the Floop.

And I have filled at least ten zillion notebooks with stone skippings and processing. I don’t have writer’s block. I have a block about pressing pooblish on the blog posts, and I know what’s behind that. It’s not mysterious. It just needs time.

What do I really want for the experience of writer’s block?

To remember that there is no block.

What do I really want for the relationship between me and the experience/perception of the block?

Trust. Trust. Trust.

And patience.

And how would I behave if I really and truly wanted these things?

I would give permission and legitimacy to all the varied and complicated things that I’m feeling. And to the situation.

It is okay to get into a plonter (Link for the non-yiddish-speakers). It is okay to not know. It is okay to slowly unravel and find your way back to wherever you find your way back to.

(And it’s not really back either, but that’s a good thing.)

Also I think that I would change my entry and exit, and make other changes in my writing kingdom. So that’s something to learn more about. There is time.

Play with me! And the commenting blanket fort.

If you would like to use these four questions (or any variations on them), go for it.

You can mess around with this here or on your own. As always, taking a silent retreat is a perfectly acceptable (and wonderful!) thing to do.

You could also come up with a list of things that you would like to plug into these questions when you have time.

Or throw some wishes into the pot. Or add something this sparked for you.

I am also receptive to warm smiles and happy sighs.

No advice or reassurances, please. That’s not what I would like today.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process. We make this a safe space by letting people have their own experience
Love to the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers (mwah!) and everyone who reads.

The Fluent Self