Rediscover Your Personal Wisdom & Happiness
What Are the Option Method Questions?
by Deborah Mendel
We are all on a constant quest for happiness. We are searching in our own personal ways. Some of us are looking for that perfect relationship with a loved one or the satisfying career. Or maybe it’s a house in the country with a family that we want, or perhaps we are grasping for that seemingly unattainable spiritual center. Whatever our desires we usually look outside ourselves for help to attain them.
In varying degrees, we feel that we need something more than what we already possess spiritually or materialistically before we can be really happy. Some of us get closer to it than others. Often a life threatening illness or the profound loss of a loved one becomes a turning point in our lives, a pivotal moment, when we make a conscious choice to be grateful for what we have and live life to the fullest. For some, as the routines of life return, this awakening remains in the heart and soul, like a gift from God, but it slips from the grasp of others. How can we hold onto happiness in all its forms: contentment, joy, gratitude, peacefulness, bliss? How might we live a life feeling good about ourselves, knowing that we feel exactly how we want to feel, that nothing can make us feel a way that we don’t want to feel, and that we already are equipped with everything we need to achieve happiness?
We don’t need a new mantra or affirmation, teacher, workshop, or guru to find our path. Although once we’ve opened the door to our hearts, we may experience joy and growth with any one or more of them as we travel through life. I invite you now on a journey, your own personal expedition to discover personal wisdom and happiness.
To begin this journey, we must first start where we now are. To get in touch with ourselves, our true happiness and spirit, we must begin by removing the layers of beliefs that conceal it. This is an easy and painless process when we use the Option Method questions.
Sometimes we experience ourselves as a living contradiction. We feel a way we don’t want to feel. How is this possible and how can we end it? The Option questions will help us to identify and to clarify, and thus expose to the light the current mistaken belief that is clouding our vision and obscuring the truth that already resides in our hearts. Once we begin this process, if we are honest with ourselves, we won’t go back. It is in our very nature always to desire happiness. God gave each of us a soul which burns like an eternal flame with this desire to be happy. Sometimes we let our happiness shine, when it’s appropriate or when we feel allowed. At other times it is obscured by our fears and hesitations. Depending upon our currently held mistaken beliefs, we may simply just not feel right or we may be in total despair.
The Option Method Questions
So where do you start? I suggest that when you ask yourself the following Option questions, you should either write them down or say them out loud. This will help you to keep track of your thoughts while you become more familiar with the questions. In a short time the questions will become “second nature.” Eventually you will find yourself starting to ask the questions and then dropping them because your true or good feelings will have already emerged. All you need is your natural desire for happiness. The Option Method will help you to begin to break down those “barrier beliefs” that have, over time, come between you and your happy heart. Be patient with yourself. You have spent a lifetime acquiring and cultivating beliefs, which you never realized before, are actually contrary to the wisdom within you. Option will help you to uncover the beliefs that don’t really serve you, the ones that seem to make you feel a way you would really rather not feel.
So that everyone may use the Option questions in a very personal way, you should replace the word “unhappy” with whatever word best describes the negative feeling you’re experiencing and that you would like to change. It may be “sad” or “annoyed,” “angry” or “worried” or “fearful.” Whatever word best describes that feeling you feel stuck with, that you would like to change, use that word.
The purpose of the Option questions is first to help you to identify and clarify exactly what is bothering you. The questions that follow expose the belief behind your emotion or bad feeling. As the questions open the door to your heart, the beliefs you’ve acquired will fall away and your true feelings will become evident. It’s easy and painless, because it’s about knowing who you really are. There is nothing to memorize or study. You are your own best expert.
The first question:
“What am I unhappy about?”
Personalize this question. Substitute the word unhappy in this question for one that best expresses the bad feeling you have that you would like to change. For instance, you may be feeling worried about something. If so, you would ask yourself, “What am I worried about?” Clarify your answer. Narrow it down. If, for example, your initial answer to the first question is something like, “I’m worried about my health,” that is a very broad answer. You need to narrow it down and be as specific as possible. The closer you get to the core of your feelings, the closer you become to your true heart. The second Option question will help you to do that.
The second question:
“What is it about that, that makes me unhappy?”
Using the previous example of “worrying about my health”, you would now ask yourself, “What is it about my health that I am worried?” Be as specific as possible. There are other ways of asking this question, such as, “What about my health worries (bothers, frightens, angers, saddens) me the most?” Your answer may be something like “I know that I don’t take care of my health enough. I eat too much of the wrong foods, and I don’t get enough exercise. I’m going to become sick if keep this up.” Another way to ask this question might be, “If that were to happen, what would I be most afraid of?” or “If that were to happen, what would be the worst thing about it?” In other words, “If I were to become sick, what would be the worst thing about it?” Remember the answers to these questions are as diverse as we are. The purpose of the questions is to help you get in touch with your reasons. This brings us to the next Option question.
The third question:
“Why am I unhappy about that?”
You ask yourself this question when you are satisfied that you have clearly identified, to the best of your ability, what it is specifically that is bothering you the most at this time. It is a simple question, but let’s make sure you understand it. “Why” means “for what reason.” This is one of the most important questions you may ever ask yourself. This question prompts you to recognize that you have your own very personal reason for feeling the way you feel. Often we get so caught up in our emotions that we have completely forgotten we are not actually feeling this way against our will. This wonderful, simple question gives you a renewed opportunity to begin your own self-enlightenment.
To apply this question to our example you would ask, “Why am I worried about getting sick?” In other words, “What is my reason for worrying about becoming unhealthy?” or “What would I be afraid of or what would it mean to me if I got sick?” At some point you will find yourself feeling as if you don’t know why, that you just always have been unhappy (our model word, remember) about it, or it would seem natural to be unhappy under such circumstances. Perhaps you are not aware of any reason. You may feel somewhat dumb struck or stuck. This is a natural phenomenon that takes place as we become more aware of our true selves. At this time we are on the threshold of self re-discovery. When this happens, it is time to move on to the fourth question.
The fourth question:
“What am I afraid it would mean if I were not unhappy about that?”
Another way of asking this question is, “What am I afraid would happen if I were not unhappy about that?” This is an extraordinary question, one you may very well have never heard before. Repeat it a few times. You may at first simply feel that this a ridiculous question and that’s natural, but let this question into your heart and it will awaken you. Your initial response may be something like, “Well, it wouldn’t mean anything, I’d just be happy.” If so, you’re not really asking yourself the question. Ask again. You see, since nothing has been actually forcing you to feel the way you don’t like to feel, then up until now you must have had a reason for feeling this way. Until now, you have not exposed or questioned your reasons. You have assumed someone else’s belief, affirmed it and re-created as your own. When? It does not matter. What truly matters now is that through this question you embark on your own spiritual adventure.
Once again, embrace the question,
“What am I afraid it would mean if I were not unhappy about that?”
After you have written down or spoken aloud your answer you will be ready for the final Option question. Take your time. Be satisfied with your answer. If you’re feeling a bit confused or uncertain, go back to the first question. It’s impossible to get lost on your own path. Use the questions as a tool, a flashlight, to light the pathway back to the truth in your own heart. Like the taste in your own mouth, only you can experience it and really know it. Be patient with yourself. You have spent a lifetime establishing and developing beliefs that you have never questioned in this way before. The Option questions, though seemingly simple, are new and foreign to you. Don’t rush it.
You may answer this question with something like, “It would mean I didn’t care,” or “It would mean I was crazy.” Or to use our example, you may answer, “If I wasn’t worried about being sick I’m afraid that I wouldn’t do anything to improve my lifestyle and health now.” This answer shows how you are preferring and choosing to be worried because if you weren’t it would mean you wouldn’t take care of yourself. These kinds of beliefs are at the core of all unhappiness.
Ask this final question now:
“Why do you believe it would mean that?”
In other words,
“Why do I believe that being happy would be bad for me right now?”
Seem too simple? Good! You’ve got it! When it comes to our bad or undesirable feeling, the particulars are as varied as we are, but the operating principles behind our feelings are fundamentally the same. If you believe something is bad, you feel bad about it. If you believe something is good, you feel good about it. If you believe that something is neither good nor bad, you don’t have any feelings one way or the other. Most importantly, if you believe that if you were to feel happy in any given situation that it would some how be bad for you, then naturally, you won’t feel good. You are now on the threshold, about to take a new step towards being who you want to be. It’s your choice.
Remember, you are your own best expert. My invitation to you is to use the Option Method to rediscover your personal wisdom and happiness. Apply the Option questions to those emotional problems you have right now and you would like to solve. Once you lighten your negative emotional load you will be freer to feel however you want to feel, that which is most natural for you to feel, whatever is right for you.
“By using the Option Method we will be able to discover in actual practice, by personal experience, the role we play in our own emotions. We will then be able to see more clearly who we really are and how we really feel—happy.”
—Bruce M. Di Marsico
by Deborah Mendel © 1999
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