Ask The Soul Shaking Question

How to Ask The Soul Shaking Question

Why are we so afraid to ask the question? Life is full of questions. Some will always be unanswered, but some deserve a response. Sometimes we already know the answer, which makes us go into complete denial when it comes to asking the question. We might think things are ok now, so why worry about it?

Common questions we aren’t asking enough:

  • Why am I in debt?
  • Why am I unhappy?
  • Why can’t I get along with …?
  • Why I am working a job that makes me miserable?
  • Why don’t I exercise regularly?
  • Why am I tired?
  • Why am I fat?
  • Why did I settle?
  • Why don’t they like my idea?
  • Why do I put up with that?
  • What has to change?

There are others. We all have questions, but asking them rocks the boat, makes us uncomfortable. Asking the question admits things aren’t all kittens and rainbows. Sometimes we feel guilty asking the question. Shouldn’t we be happy already? Do we deserve to be happy when there is so much suffering? Isn’t this enough?

Once the question is asked out loud, then comes accountability, action, and outcomes we can’t predict. Yikes. Sounds easier to sit in front of the TV and worry about that handsome doctor’s problems instead.

I get that you don’t have time to sit around and ponder the meaning of life all day long, but ask one soul shaking question. Say it out loud, put it on paper and be open to the answers.

How to ask the Soul Shaking Question

1. Make a soul shaking appointment. Clear a little time on your calendar. (not while you are waiting for another appointment or eating lunch). This is important and deserves your full attention.

2. Prepare intentionally. Create space and time to honor your commitment. You scheduled a block of time. Now clean a table top or small area to work. Have a pen and notepad or sheet of paper ready. Turn off your phone and other distractions.

3. Clear your head. Before you sit down, go for a walk or do a simple meditation. Quiet your mind, release your anxiety and be ready to do the work.

4. Go there. Sit down alone and write down your soul shaking question or questions. It’s best to start with one, but be prepared for others to follow. Begin to answer your questions. If you notice you are going to the easy answer first, keep going. That might be part of the problem solving but it’s not the answer. Keep going. Go there.

5. Listen to the answers. You said the answers out loud and wrote them on paper. Don’t dismiss them. Listen to them.

6. Respond to the answers. Things aren’t about to get easier. In fact, things might get ugly before they get pretty. Your response will demonstrate your power. Your response will demonstrate your strength and commitment. Your character and soul will shine through your response.

7. Lower your expectations. You’ve asked the soul shaking question. You answered, listened and responded. Why aren’t things better now? They are. Just a tiny bit. You’ve made a choice. It may have taken you years to ask the question so don’t expect a resolution over night. It will take time. It will take help. It will take all that you have. Give it.

These soul shaking questions and answers will scare you. They will taunt you. They will make you shake your head in denial. And then, when you’re ready, the soul shaking answers will inform your next move and change your life.



  1. says

    Yes. I really like it. We have energy and time given us in our life. We can use it to complain about the way things are or we can use it to make things better. Sure, life isn’t fair, but it isn’t fair to anyone. We are given an amazing gift with being human that we are able to figure out and change our life.

    Thanks for another amazing post!

  2. says

    This is an important post, not easy to read when you know it applies to you (Me). I think you’ve tackled a really tough issue here and hit the nail on the head. For me it’s all about scheduling time to do things, especially things like… sit down and ask the difficult questions and really look for solutions! I see it as a personal coaching session – just for me! :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts,x

  3. says

    Awesome! While I am far from answering all of my soul shaking questions, this past year has seen me answer and respond to quite a few of them. And I’m in a much more positive place because of it.

    Turns out most of my reasons for not were more like excuses, and my answers required more work than I had wanted to give.

    You’re absolutely worth the time though, and this post is such a great way of explaining the process of making big changes.

  4. Mandy says

    Hi Courtney, first time commenter and long time (well, about three months) reader. I’m making my way through your archives and mini missions, and I’m pleased to say I’ve done a whole house clean out inspired by your blog. Some stuff I haven’t been able to let go (mostly sentimental) but I think it’s all about balance and ‘sorting out the wheat from the chaff’ so to speak. I think about letters that have been kept from World War 1 veterans and passed down through families, so we do have to put some critical thought into what we keep and give/throw away.

    You may have done this already, but I wonder whether one of your blogs might comment on how ‘stuff’ is inextricably linked to consumerism, the environment etc. and dig a little deeper into what that all means. I think a lot of people would benefit from this. You have probably seen ‘The Story of Stuff’, a 25 minute video that can be accessed for free online. It’s probably a bit full on for some people (my Mum couldn’t get through it), and it has been criticised by some, but perhaps your blog could approach it in a more tempered way. I guess what we can take from it is that all this stuff comes from somewhere and that it is not impact-free!

    Many people don’t put much thought into what they are buying, what goes into it, what impacts it has had socially and environmentally and there’s so many ways we can reduce our consumerism, which leads to the accumulation of all this stuff in the first place. If we didn’t consume so much we wouldn’t have so much of a clutter problem!

    Kind regards :)

  5. says

    These are all such great questions. The thing is that sometimes I have the answer immediately after asking the question and the answer is kind of sad. And then after that, I have to decide to stay like that or to do something about it.

  6. says

    This piece hit me hard. In a good way.

    One of the questions I am asking myself lately is, why I am online as much as I am? Your thoughtful post here has lead me to challenge myself. I’m taking a completely dark week April 3-9 and challenging my blog readers to do the same. No cell phone, no Internet and no television.

    Much thanks for this one, Courtney :)

  7. Apple says

    Very eye-opening questions Courtney. In my experience though, a lot of people need a psychotherapist to be able to honestly answer to “soul shaking questions” and then to be able to cope with and work through the answers. :)

  8. says

    Oh, I love this post. Thank you so much for writing it. Too many of us are avoiding the questions that will ultimately unlock happier lives. I’ll be thinking of your post for quite awhile.

  9. says

    My problem is that I’ve asked the soul shaking questions the last year, found the answers, but find that I don’t find the incentive to change. Maybe I just haven’t found a that shakes me enough? My problem, I think, it that I’ve oddly known who I am from birth, so have too much confidence. Thus when I ask myself a question, I already know the answer. And I give myself a “so what?!” response. How do you find the initiative and incentive to change when a large part of you says, “This is who I am. Take it or leave it?”

  10. Candice says

    Several days ago I commented on the Fight for your Health post that I was intending to quit my job due to rotoscoliosis and focus on my health. However, I felt I needed a few more months of working mostly due to finances (and truth be told, fear of quitting). My beautiful 20 year old daughter was diagnosed with depression and GAD this past Thursday and was placed on an antidepressant. I’m sitting in quiet this morning asking these soul shaking questions with tears streaming down my face…how have I failed her and how can I save her? My soul shaking decision is to give immediate notice to my employer to focus on healing both my daughter and myself. I’m leaping into unemployment with credit card balances that won’t be paid down as planned, but my husband and I have agreed this is the best thing to do for our family.

  11. says

    Great post and very insightful! I have learned that we need to repeatedly ask ourselves the ‘soul shaking questions’ because life happens and we get caught up in it so easily. I also work at living intentionally so that I ask myself the soul shaking questions upon ‘feeling’ something emotionally or physically that I used to dismiss in the midst of busyness. I have also learned that when we quiet our minds and get real and honest with ourselves we can learn a great deal about the questions and the answers that are often very obvious.