“The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.” ~Swedish Proverb When I was in my mid-twenties an unhealthy relationship with an unhealthy guy sent me packing off to the corner of New Mexico to find myself. In a new age, self-discovery kind of world—a hubbub of a town filled with people in transition—I was graced to meet many powerful healers, gurus, shamans, and teachers. I became a workshop junkie. I went on Shamanic power journeys to spiritual centers around the world, chanted with Indian gurus, and became a certified yoga instructor and Reiki master. I got rolfed, (and got more intense body-work by thick-boned Maoris) and rebirthed with conscious breath work. I studied parapsychology and quantum dynamics, did past-life regressions, memorized mantras, unraveled koans, and collected crystals and tarot cards. I went on vision quests in the desert, called leading psychics, mapped my astrological chart, figured out my Enneagram number, dreamed lucidly for nights in an upright chair, and drew down the moon in Wiccan circles. I had psychic surgeries, soft-tissue chiropractic work, drank herbal tinctures and elixirs, bought every kind of healing essential oil, collected a library of self-help books, and did inner-child work, gestalt dialogues, and did loads of homework with several life coaches. I know. It’s crazy, huh? I was a perpetual seeker. Because of an innate sense that there was something wrong with me and a belief I picked up as a child that I was “bad,” I constantly looked outside of myself to find respite, feel loved, and to know my worth. Even though my unhealthy relationship was dysfunctional, that man gave me a gift that I wouldn’t discover for years. There was something he always said to me that would have saved me from grasping to know myself for so many years, if only I could have really heard it and made it my own. Whether he meant it or not, he would say: What’s not to love about you? If I could only for one minute stop and realize this truth, I could have found my peace, and not from a man or spiritual teacher or seminar. I would have been freed from a need to find something outside of me. I would have come to know my own heart. Today, there are so many tools and practices—psychological, creative, and spiritual—that can guide us to come to know ourselves more. There is nothing wrong with these modalities. What is wrong is how we hold onto them for dear life, along with the conditioned belief for why we need them. Here are some key questions to ask yourself to discover your true inner-nature, all on your own, from deep within you and realize everything you need is already here: 1. What if there was nothing I needed to fix in me? What if there was nothing I needed to change? What if I was perfect just the way I am now? Yes, there is inner work to be done. Growth, change, self-awareness, and healing are all important. So many people avoid doing the inner work that is necessary to learn and grow. But the mechanism that drives us to fix, perfect, and change is, in its own way, an expression of a wound. We get trapped by the belief that there is something inherently wrong with us, that we are not enough, and that there is something we need to do to become a better person. This mechanism drives us to look outside of ourselves to avoid having to accept ourselves, who we are right now, in this moment as enough, worthy, and good. 2. What if I didn’t have to punish myself to get the lesson? We have been taught that if we do something “wrong” or “bad” we have to punish ourselves. After all, that’s what our parents did when we were scolded for pulling our sister’s hair or our teacher gave us a “time-out.” So ask yourself: What if I learned the lesson with love and kindness instead? If I became aware of a mistake I made with self-compassion and gentleness rather than pull out a stick and bash my head? 3. What if I didn’t have to apologize? Sure, saying we are sorry to a person for causing harm is respectful and necessary. We surrender the ego for a moment and admit to our faults. We take responsibility for our actions. But when we incessantly apologize for who we are, we are buying into the belief that there is something unacceptable within us. As humans we make mistakes. This is how we learn. So what if we asked: Can I receive the lesson, embrace it, and not walk around ashamed, saying “I’m sorry” all of the time? 4. What if what I need is already here? What if it already exists inside of me? What if it lives within my heart and is present now without having to get it out there—without having to be told by an astrologist my life plans; without seeking love and approval from an enlightened one outside of me? What if my enlightenment is already here? What if I dropped this need to seek it out, find it, discover it—could it possibly reveal itself to me? The Buddha implied that the antidote to the unwholesome expressed inside us is our connection to heart. Whether you realize it or not, your heart is full, alive, and radiant. So ask: What if whatever lives and breathes inside my heart is more than enough? Return to your heart to discover what you need. Place the pain, the anxiety, the doubt, as well as the love, compassion, and appreciative joy for others right in the center of your chest. What you need is already beating loudly inside of you. 5. What if I didn’t have to figure it all out? What if I didn’t have to know what it all means? Or make sense of it all? What if I didn’t have to understand, analyze, process, therapize, talk about it all the time, search, seek, and find answers? What if I stepped into the spaciousness of the unknown and allowed life to guide me? What if I waited patiently for the fruits of my endeavors to ripen and fall off the tree? When we listen to our innate sense of intuition and trust our unfolding path, we are led. We make choices based on what feels right and true in the moment. We let go of the measured mind and step into personal freedom. 6. What if exactly what I need is happening already? What if it’s happening right now and I can’t see it? Could it be bigger than what my limited perception can understand at this moment? Perhaps, in the future when you look back, the pieces of the puzzle that made up your life’s path will all come together and make sense. You may ask: What if it never makes sense, and I am simply a puzzle that takes new forms, changes and morphs all of the time, de-layering and uncovering, coming closer and closer to the absolute me? What if I didn’t need to push, force, rush, coerce, control, or produce to feel safe? What if I am OK in this moment exactly how I am, going exactly where I need to, and remembering, without fail, that I always have the choice to create my dreams? One final question: Isn’t it a relief to feel these questions, deep inside?