The Hard Questions for an Authentic Life: 100 Essential Questions for Tapping into Your Inner Wisdom

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A thought-provoking guide to approaching life's questions and transitions with presence of mind and integrity from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do.”

The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do.” took a revolutionary approach to prenuptial counseling in a provocative questions-and-answer format that encouraged readers to uncover their own unique truths. Taking this ...

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Overview

A thought-provoking guide to approaching life's questions and transitions with presence of mind and integrity from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do.”

The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do.” took a revolutionary approach to prenuptial counseling in a provocative questions-and-answer format that encouraged readers to uncover their own unique truths. Taking this breakthrough approach to an even broader audience, The Hard Questions for an Authentic Life challenges readers to independently explore their deepest beliefs about relationships, friendships, family, work, money, creativity, and spirituality. The responses they uncover become the building blocks for a revitalized life that is lived with a sense of ease and confidence. Most important, The Hard Questions for an Authentic Life gives readers the renewed emotional strength necessary for coping with life's many inevitable transitions. The Hard Questions for an Authentic Life marks the start of an important revolution in self-help publishing, one that at last enables us to find the answers—and the experts—within ourselves.

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What People Are Saying

Julia Cameron
Susan Piver is a deeply intuitive and innovative thinker. She has both tenderness and acuity regarding what concerns us. I could not recommend her more highly.
— Author of The Artist's Way and The Vein of Gold
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592400423
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/5/2004
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Piver is the author of The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do.” She was also a writer, producer, and marketing specialist for the entertainment industry for more than a decade before launching Padma Media, which creates special book packages for bestselling authors.

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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The search for authenticity is among our deepest and most natural inclinations. Anyone can live an authentic life. Living authentically doesn't require you to secure your dream job, get in perfect shape, or find true love. Certainly those are wonderful, but there is no guarantee that reaching any of these goals will provide the sense of confidence, joy, and ease that comes with authenticity. Haven't you known people who seem to “have it all,” yet are not content? Hasn't each of us had the experience of finally securing something— the job, the boyfriend, the home, the perfect weight—that we've always longed for, thinking that this, at last, will mark the beginning of “real” life? I know I have. I also know that every time I find something I've been searching for...nothing happens. Invariably, after the first rush of happiness, I find myself wanting something more, again, imagining that my “real” life is just around the next corner.

While living an authentic life might include meaningful work, great relationships, health and beauty, and a great house, none of these has the power to unmask your true self, or settle you in the center of the life you are meant to live.

What does it mean to live authentically? Living authentically is what you're doing when you find congruence between your inner world—your feelings, values, gifts, needs, spirituality, and passions—and your outer world—your job, relationships, home, and community. When you live your authentic life, these things support and synergize each other. It doesn't mean that you have no worries, conflicts, or fears; you may even have more asyou choose to live authentically. There is one key difference, though: they no longer have the power to unseat you. When you have discovered what you can offer to others, when you feel that you are on your unique path, when you have an ongoing, honest, reliable connection to your inner wisdom, then you have found your unique spot in this world with all its craziness, sorrow, and joy. This discovery gives tremendous ease. You finally have a way of relating to work, lovers, friends, and spiritual practices with openheartedness and intelligence. Problems, no matter how intense, are workable.

When I was a small child, I used to lie in bed and wonder where my real life was and when it would begin. I would sniff the suburban air, tune into the sound of the occasional car in the distance, look at the lovely, manicured lawns out the window, and try to locate anything at all that felt, sounded, or smelled right to me. Nothing did. For whatever reason, my early life, peaceful and secure as it was, didn't feel comfortable. I had the distinct sense that I didn't fit in—at home, at play, at school. I wasn't academically talented or good at making friends. The things I was interested in didn't appeal to anyone else. What I was good at—writing, reading, wondering about why people acted the way they did—didn't elicit much response. I felt isolated.

I always felt that my “real” life lay elsewhere. Even then, I knew (or hoped) that somewhere there were people who explored the worlds around and within them, engaged in passionate relationships, lived purposeful lives, and even connected with God. I believed that these were the qualities that made life worth living and that my life, once I located it, would connect me to them. I would find the joy of true love. I would discover my unique gifts. I would engage in work that allowed me to offer those gifts with courage and dignity. I would know God, the Goddess, Jesus, and the Buddha. I would come to a deep understanding of what it meant to be human and, specifically, what it meant to be Susan Piver. This understanding would naturally lead me to my true place in this life.

But where was it?

Interactions with family members did not yield many clues. School was the antithesis of it. Occasional friendships gave a taste of meaningful connection. I found the best clues in music, books, and movies. These gave valuable but often confusing pictures of what “it” might look and feel like. But when I turned off the radio, closed the book, or left the theater, I came back to a diminished world.

I knew I didn't want to live a compromised life, one in which the inner life and outer life were mismatched, where my values, talents, and thoughts were uncalled for in my work, relationships, and community. Throughout my life—and I know I'm not alone in this—I have been accompanied by a powerful wish to live fully, to throw myself on the fire of my own life—once I knew what it was. Tell me what I should do with my life and I will give everything to it. This thought has driven me from job to job, from town to town, from relationship to relationship. It seemed clear that the only way to figure out what to do with my life was to figure out who I was. Early in my life I made a commitment to do just this. I used to prowl around bookstores, praying for a book that could walk me through the steps needed to calculate the answer.

I believe that this longing to find one's place is among the most primary of human urges. Once basic needs are satisfied, our minds naturally turn to questions of meaning. “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What are my special gifts?” These questions are so basic, so gut level, yet they are profoundly difficult to answer. Why would you trust anyone else to answer them for you? Who better to answer these questions than the only person who has ever lived your life from the inside out, who knows the subtleties of your heart's pains and pleasures? Who better than the only person who will ever be able to accurately tally every last moment of your life, underscore the column, and total the result? The inventory of your existence—thoughts, emotions, insights, sensations—is available to only you. Yet, often, the last place we look when trying to answer life's hard questions is within.

For a long time, I believed that I could live an authentic life by making up a blueprint for action that encompassed my goals and objectives. I spent many hours visualizing, planning, and writing out elaborate plans. But strange things kept happening. My goals kept changing. My personality and values continually evolved. I would reach a desired outcome only to find it was different than I had anticipated. I would fail to achieve my purpose, and something cool would happen anyway. What I thought would bring me pleasure often did not. What I imagined would be painful was not as bad—or was worse—than anticipated. Things kept intruding on my plans: Relationships came and went. Skills that I had counted on became unreliable as external circumstances altered. Unknown talents surfaced to meet new challenges. Opportunities materialized and fell away. True love felt one way, then another. My big questions about life were never answered; I just started caring about new questions. I realized that my authentic life couldn't be achieved by imagining the perfect scenario and then trying to create it. It simply never worked out that way.

After working through failed plans, unplanned successes, new interests, deepening values, and shifting relationships—I realized something important about living authentically: I couldn't count on my thoughts and ideas about what would make me happy to make me happy. So I stopped planning. I stopped imagining a career path. I stopped trying to figure out what city I would be happiest living in. I stopped thinking I had a “type” when it came to intimate relationships. I stopped envisioning the house I would live in. All this ever did was create confusion in my life. It was only by cultivating the ability to be present to what was actually occurring, to how I was feeling, to the feelings of those around me, to my relationships today, my job today, my body today that I ever achieved a measure of clarity and direction. Something really interesting began occurring when I adopted this stance: I had more accurate insights about myself, my relationships, and the events of my life. I made better decisions about where and with whom to invest my time, energy, abilities, and feelings. My intuition got stronger and stronger. My ability to listen to myself kept deepening. At some point, after giving up on figuring out what my life's purpose was...I noticed that I was living it instead. I was choosing relationships that nurtured my inner life. I was working on projects I valued with people I treasured. The gifts that I had to give were required to execute my responsibilities. My creativity was blossoming. I was living an authentic life. At last.

What I found was that as I was able to fully live each moment, an authentic life naturally and directly arose around me. This life was not created by my thoughts or directed by my will, but was manifested through an ongoing dialogue within myself and with the world, a dialogue based on inquiry and a commitment to listen to the answers that arose. I've come to the realization that it's actually impossible to plan an authentic life—it's only possible to be authentic and watch as your authentic life manifests around you.

We live in a society that declines to teach us how to be authentic, how to wake up to our own inner lives. Our own being, that with which we are most intimate, is also, for many of us, the thing that is most inscrutable to us. For most of human history, tending to basic needs precluded all but the most privileged from wondering what their life path might be. For the majority, when moments of contemplation did lead to questioning, answers were offered by religious or spiritual doctrine.

An unprecedented number of us are now looking for our own answers to life's hard questions. We are no longer satisfied with the vision for life offered by clergy, family, society. We can no longer look to outside sources or institutions, no matter how cherished, to hand us a working vision of how to become an adult, find a spouse, raise children, or engage in meaningful work. It is up to each of us, individually and with those closest to us, to discover our own personal vision of life. How amazing: in our lifetime, the locus of responsibility for choosing a path has shifted away from religion, culture, society to...ourselves. Yet we've received virtually no education or training for assuming this potent task.

It's no wonder that in the last twenty-five years or so, an overwhelming quantity of personal growth books, workshops, therapies, seminars, and theories have been created. Spiritual trends cycle through faster and faster; even powerful wisdom traditions such as Christian mysticism, Buddhism, yoga, kabbalah, and shamanism are in danger of losing their potency through the speed with which we try them on and discard them. An enormous existential, spiritual gap has been created and we have looked to fill it from all external sources, doing anything to postpone the difficulty of looking within and working with what is found there, realizing that there is no guide, no teacher, no expert, and no other individual who can know how we should live our lives. If we truly want to discover the purpose of our lives, be guided by our own inner wisdom, and live with authenticity, this—assuming primary responsibility for our own precious human life—is the most important shift we can ever make.

Our culture discourages this shift by offering to life's hard questions a plethora of attractive, convincing, powerfully compelling answers that are ultimately useless. We take our life lessons from soft-drink commercials and magazine advertisements. We believe that our lives should have a narrative structure, as lives do in the movies or on TV; indeed many of us act as if we were always on camera—performing instead of living a three-dimensional life. Appearances stand in for real feelings, true connection. It's difficult to distinguish our own thoughts from the thoughts of commentators, pundits, and experts. We are profoundly disconnected from what is real, simple, and true for us. How to turn off and tune into your real voice? That is the work ahead of you.

The work begins with questions. Asking a question can be a sacred act. A real question assumes a dialogue, a link to the source from which answers come. Asking a question is a simple, profound way of initiating a relationship with the energies and powers around and within you. Talking, telling, explaining, complaining, railing, criticizing, praising, lamenting, beseeching—these are the ways we most commonly approach important questions. If we can drop all these for just a moment and simply ask, wonder, become curious about...an opening for an answer will be created. Questioning by its very nature is a spiritual practice. We come into dialogue with God, our true nature, wisdom, whatever we choose to call it, whenever we stop, look inside, and take the time and effort to really listen to ourselves.

I learned about the power of asking questions in 1997, when I was thinking about getting married. I was deeply in love with my boyfriend, Duncan. We had been together for four years and were certain about our feelings, but I was still very afraid of getting married. Hadn't all my divorced friends been in love at the time of their marriages? Why would we be any different? In thinking about these things, I realized that getting married wasn't only about being in love and staying in love—it was about creating a life together that we both loved. I couldn't find any resources to help us figure out if we could create such a life together or not, so I began writing down questions about money, friends, home, children, spirituality, and so on. We began answering them together and something really amazing happened: it turned out not to matter whether we agreed, disagreed, or didn't know how to answer any particular question. The act of considering the questions together created a revealing, instructive dialogue between us. As we answered them (“Will we keep our money separately or together?” “Will we share a religion?”), we became more intimate. Our love deepened. After we were married, some answers began to change—some agreements became disagreements, and vice versa; answers emerged for what was previously unanswerable. We kept checking in with each other, using the questions as guides. We learned that it wasn't the answers that were valuable—it was the questioning process. The Hard Questions for an Authentic Life uses this process to help you develop this sort of ongoing dialogue with yourself.

Why is tapping into our own inner wisdom so difficult? We long for it, yet we lack the ability to hear ourselves clearly. Our inner wisdom speaks a unique language, made up of a combination of dreams, coincidences, passions, revulsions, and intuitions—and something very powerful that transcends all of those. To understand this voice requires a type of pattern recognition that we're untrained in—but four very important skills can help:
1. Courage
2. Willingness to feel
3. Focus
4. Presence

Courage
Courage is the willingness to open and listen to ourselves, loved ones, enemies, strangers, even circumstance—no matter what is being said. We most often plow through our problems and issues, certain we know the answers already. If only everyone else had the same answer, there would be no problem! Yet, time after time, we use our “answers” to re-create painful situations in relationships, at work, and at home. The Hard Questions ask that we put aside our habitual answers for a little while and approach these questions with a “don't know” mind. If our questions are a genuine inquiry, reliable answers will emerge. Listening requires emptiness and receptivity. A certain kind of space is required, one that is alive, vibrant, ready. Creating this space is a profound act of courage. We are opening ourselves to the truth, no matter what. We are consciously and purposefully stepping beyond our fear.

Willingness to Feel
As we tune in, we may hear things that are exciting, confusing, inspiring, depressing, or unclear. The key is to be willing to notice what is there and feel it. My oddest missteps have occurred as a result of ignoring my own feelings or, worse, not even being able to discern what they are. Feelings are not necessarily the final guide for action, but they are pointing at something we need to know about ourselves—especially our uncomfortable feelings. The unwillingness to tolerate discomfort is often at the root of our worst impulses—we vilify others, subjugate ourselves, overwork, get depressed, isolate, become fearful, overindulge, get angry, or fall into a stupor because we are unable to tolerate discomfort. When we try to avoid or pacify our feelings, we obscure the truth of who we are and what is really happening. The ability to feel and tolerate discomfort is absolutely crucial in searching for an authentic life. We have to be willing to feel anything—no matter what. Can you do this?

Focus When we do try to tune in, be it through meditation, going for a walk, journaling, or talking with a trusted friend, often the first thing we encounter is other's voices. Parents, colleagues, peers, even characters in movies and songs speak to us about what life should look like. Most of us can't separate these voices from our own. But if we listen carefully and take the time to trace each voice back to its root, we can almost always identify the strands. This requires concentration, an ability to focus, to work with the thoughts, sensations, hopes, and fears that arise, constantly trying to establish their source, unique qualities, direction, and real value. The ability to truly focus brings with it invaluable alertness, sharpness, and precision of mind.

Courage, the willingness to feel, and the ability to focus are not as helpful if we only use them occasionally. They only come to fruition when we are able to practice them over time, even all the time. As we're able to open to ourselves and others, tracking our thoughts, feeling our feelings, and staying focused on how and when they arise, a gap is created between thought and action. This gap gives us an ability to act skillfully, not just from habitual patterns. Invariably, our own inner wisdom, not our beliefs and ideas about inner wisdom, will fill the gap. This space is created through the power of presence, the ability to observe our own minds. So the fourth and most important required skill is awareness, or presence.

Presence As far as I know, there is only one reliable way to cultivate presence and that is through a regular contemplative practice. There are many to choose from: meditation, journaling, walking, yoga. It doesn't matter which one you choose, so long as you set the intention to take time for contemplation and remain consistent with your chosen practice. Having a daily contemplative practice is like permanently installing a satellite dish outside your house—signals can't reach a dish that is continually moving about, and I don't know why, but our inner voice requires an unmoving target to receive its broadcasts. Spiritual practice creates a steady, reliable way to receive your own wisdom.

If we have the courage to listen, the willingness to feel, the ability to focus, and the skill to remain present no matter what arises, something amazing happens: our own authentic self emerges, moment to moment, in ways that are expected or surprising, convenient or challenging, but more importantly, an accurate reflection of who we really are in that moment. Then our gestures ring true, our relationships, while not necessarily simpler, are genuine, and our professional or creative choices are grounded in our actual gifts.

Asking the Hard Questions can help us do something we aren't really taught to do: make friends with ourselves. Usually, we relate to ourselves with some crazy mixture of egotism and low self-esteem. We are continually judging, berating, haranguing, inflating, defending, and/or consoling ourselves. Rarely do we make the gesture of simple friendship toward ourselves, although we most likely make such gestures throughout the day to others. With our friends, we are interested, caring, and helpful. This process asks you to extend the hand of friendship to yourself.

The Hard Questions offer a place to begin. This book contains one hundred questions about seven essential areas of life: (1) Family, (2) Friendships, (3) Intimate Relationships, (4) Work, (5) Money, (6) Creativity, and (7) Spiritual Life. The questions are part of a process that will help you identify what is working in each area of your life, what isn't working, and why. They will support you as you figure out ways to optimize and honor who you are, and how to work with who and what isn't. Asking the Hard Questions signals that you've made an agreement with yourself to live your authentic life deeply, thoughtfully, and honestly.

How to Answer the Hard Questions The first step in this process is to really give yourself the chance to carefully and honestly reflect on the questions in each chapter. Don't rush through the process or try to answer all the questions in one sitting. It may take days, weeks, or even months to fully answer these questions. All you will need is the blank pages in this book or your journal, or your computer, depending on where you feel most comfortable recording answers. I encourage you to take the time to write down your answers. Something important occurs when we choose to commit words to paper (or screen); our inner voice crystallizes into formed ideas. This alchemical process creates clarity of thought and allows inner wisdom to come through.

Each time you are ready to approach some of the Hard Questions, find a safe space and some time in which you won't be disturbed, at least thirty minutes or so. Sit in a place that is relaxing and peaceful—your bedroom, at the dining room table, a coffee shop, on a park bench. The important thing is to minimize distractions. If you are at home, turn off phones, pagers, the internet connection. If you have children or roommates, wait until they are asleep or out.

Beyond this, the questions themselves will guide you through the process. Some of them may be a snap to answer; others may seem impossible. They will ask you to consider how you really feel, what you really want, what you truly value. They will help you understand where you feel balanced or unbalanced, nurtured or needy, at ease or awkward. The questions that you are ready to answer will seem juicy and evocative. The ones that aren't for you right now will appear silly or inappropriate. That's okay. Give them another try later.

As you answer the Hard Questions, keep in mind that over time, the answers may change. In fact, I can promise you that the answers will change. Finding your authentic life is not like discovering the source of the Amazon and setting up camp there; it's not a place you can identify and mark in time and space. Living your authentic life is a process of getting in tune with your actual thoughts, feelings, needs, and insights, in real time, as they arise, noting as they shift or change. These questions can always be revisited—and each time you do so, they may bring up fresh insights. As you consider ways to answer the questions, work with your responses until you come up with an answer that feels complete, for now. Know that at the moment you set out to seek your inner wisdom, it sets out to seek you too. It may just take some time.

Keep your answers private, or if you feel that you would benefit from discussing them with others, share only with those who can respect the process that goes into answering these questions. It may even be fun to embark on this process with a trusted friend, sharing your answers as you feel ready or willing to. So be patient and let your mind wander over all the possible answers to each question. Pay special attention to the first thoughts that arise, but be willing to set them aside as you consider various answers. Be open and creative with yourself. You will know when one process is complete or impossible to complete at this particular time. You can always go back.

Don't allow yourself to fear-forward into worst case scenarios. Similarly, don't attach yourself to the most hopeful outcome you can imagine. This flies in the face of the New Age ideal: that if you can hold fast to a perfectly sculpted vision of your future, you can pull it toward yourself. Too, this belief suggests an improper placement of the center. So instead of letting your hopes or fears answer the Hard Questions, try to hear your own inner wisdom instead. Let yourself be led to the answers.
AS YOU WORK WITH THE HARD QUESTIONS, I EXPECT YOU WILL COME TO SHARE MY REALIZATION THAT LIVING AUTHENTICALLY ISN'T ABOUT PUTTING THE PERFECT FORMULA INTO PLAY (GREAT JOB + COOL APARTMENT + BOYFRI: = AUTHENTIC LIFE) OR SIMPLY VISUALIZING AN OUTCOME AND WORKING TOWARD IT. IT'S ABOUT BEING PRESENT FROM MOMENT TO MOMENT, STARTING RIGHT NOW, AND THEN WATCHING AS YOUR AUTHENTIC LIFE EMERGES. LIKELY IT WILL SURPASS YOUR WILDEST DREAMS.

I wish you endless courage, a deep willingness to feel, powerful focus, and all the presence of mind you need to create your own unique, resonant, and helpful answers.

1CHAPTER 1 1
Family

It makes complete sense to begin with Hard Questions about family. There is, after all, a good reason why a genealogical chart is commonly referred to as a family tree. We are all rooted in family. For most of us, family history, relationships, and interpersonal dynamics are the soil from which we sprang and the ground upon which we stand. And, generally, our feet are so firmly planted on this ground that we don't give much thought to our root system—until, for whatever reason, it is no longer nourishing us or we feel ourselves becoming rootbound.

By their very nature, therefore, questions about family must also be questions about self. No matter how long we've been on our own or how far we think we've distanced ourselves from the family we grew up with, their rhythms, values, and psychological habits have, whether we realize it or not, left a deep imprint. How many of us have been told, at one time or another, that “you sound just like your mother,” or “that's exactly what your father would have said.” If you've heard those, or similar comments, were you pleased? Surprised? Did you want to deny it? Whatever your reaction, it probably told you something about your relationship with the family member in question.

Most of us have unresolved issues with our families of origin—issues that we may be attempting to resolve, consciously or not, within the context of our current relationships with them or with others. Family members, for example, are often assigned roles to play within the group—the responsible one, the creative one, the pretty one, to name just a few—and those roles are likely to affect, one way or another, the roles we play with other people in our lives. As a result, the way we relate to parents and siblings as adults can reveal deep truths about all our personal relationships. Bringing those issues into focus in order to examine them more consciously can help us to understand how they may be affecting other areas of our lives—and other relationships—today.

Family bonds—and therefore family issues—are not, however, limited to the family we grew up with. As adults, we expand and develop new branches on our family tree as we marry and have children of our own. And we are also likely to develop all sorts of surrogate “families” of choice among our friends, our colleagues at work, in spiritual or religious groups, and around shared activities such as sports, hobbies, or creative pursuits. Each of these families helps us to create a sense of community and a feeling of belonging, and acts as a source of support and nourishment.

Our relationships with our family of origin and our families of choice can, consciously or unconsciously, affect and reflect upon one another. If we have unrealized or unresolved issues or problems with the former, they can manifest themselves in our relationships with the latter. And what we seek or value in our relationships with one can reveal what we value or feel is lacking in the other. It's important, therefore, as you work with the Hard Questions about family, to consider how your answers relate to all the groups and individuals that feel like family to you.

1. Whom do I consider to be my family? How many families am I a part of? List every person whom you consider to be a part of your family—be it your family of origin, the family you've created through marriage, the family you hope to create, or your families of choice.

2. Take a look at each person on this list and ask yourself the following: How often do we really connect with each other? Is it often enough? Too often? Are we involved enough in each other's life? Too involved? Are there any changes I need to make in terms of time spent with this person or depth of involvement in each other's life?

3. If I have not yet created my own family, would I like to? Is there anyone in my life right now with whom I can imagine creating a family?

4. What would this family look like (just the two of us and our friends, one child, a bunch of kids)? Does this person want to create a family with me? If I don't know, how can I find out?

5. In what ways would I like my family to be similar to the family I grew up in? In what ways would I like it to be different?

6. What values did I gain from my family of origin? The three most helpful? The three least helpful? Where do I notice these values showing up in my current life, with my current family (if applicable), and with my friends and intimate partners?

7. How have these values evolved or changed as I've become an independent adult? Has this created conflict within myself or within my family? If so, is there anything I can do or say to resolve these conflicts? What is the very next step I can take in this process?

8. What conflicts exist within my immediate family (whether of origin or of marriage)? Is there any way to resolve them? Is there anyone I need to forgive? If so, for what? Whether or not the conflict involves me directly, what can I do to create healing within the family? Is there a conversation I need to have, a letter I can write, or an internal shift I can make to start the healing process?

9. If I'm married or in a committed relationship, does my spouse or intimate partner feel like “family” to me? If so, what is it about our relationship that makes it feel like family? If not, why not? Are there things I can do to deepen our sense of family?

10. What do I really need that my family is unable to give me? Are there unresolved issues of psychological or physical security? Emotional connection and support? Is there some other way to get these needs met? Is there a conversation I need to have with a family member, clergy, or therapist to help me with my unmet needs?

11. What do I wish my family understood about me? Knew about me? Liked about me? Are there contributions I make that I feel go unappreciated? Are there things I like about myself that my family doesn't seem to recognize and value? Does my family “see” and appreciate who I really am? If not, how can I bring them more fully into my inner life? Or become reconciled to the idea that this may never happen?

12. What am I expected to contribute to my family? Am I the sole breadwinner? A key contributor to family income? Who is the central emotional caregiver? Who is responsible for household chores such as cooking, cleaning, repairs, bookkeeping? Am I comfortable with the roles I play? If not, what can I do to make the sorts of changes I'd like?

13. What holidays or events do I share with my family? Which would I like to share? Do we celebrate each other, important events, and happy times? Do we have a way of supporting each other during difficult times?

14. If I don't feel that I'm part of any family, what can I do to create family in my life? Are there professional, spiritual, leisure, or creative groups I can reach out to or join?

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Table of Contents

Introduction xiii
Chapter 1 Family 1
Chapter 2 Friendships 13
Chapter 3 Intimate Relationships 25
Chapter 4 Work 39
Chapter 5 Money 51
Chapter 6 Creativity 65
Chapter 7 Spiritual Life 77
Afterword 91
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