The Sweet Gift of a Simple Question
By Julie Matheson


I put off asking a friend a simple question for years. It wasn’t a daily annoyance not having the answer, but occasionally the topic would come up and I wondered about it.

We donate a monthly tithe to this friend’s charity organization and have done so for years. For most of these years we have not received any communication confirming receipt of our donations.

Therefore, the simple question was…. “Are you still receiving our donations?”

Now why in the world would any one avoid asking this simple question? It seems easy enough. “Are you receiving our donations?”

The answer was just as simple. “Yes, and we send you a confirmation and a thank you at the end of every year…. to an email it sounds like you apparently don’t use anymore.”

That was it, a very reasonable answer to a very reasonable question.

I could have saved her the horror of realizing we weren’t receiving her confirmation by reaching out a lot sooner with my question. And I could have saved myself some lost energy as well.

You would have thought this question was deeply offensive or inappropriate, the many years it went unanswered. Once out in the open, I realized how perfectly okay it was to ask this question and I regretted not asking it sooner.

However, the greater gift happened when I asked myself a day later, “Why in the world was I blocked from asking her this question all these years, when normally I am very straightforward?”

I took my “Why?” to pen and paper and here’s what I found….

She is a mentor and on some faint level I was feeling the hierarchy of our relationship and felt intimidated to ask her. I also uncovered an element of respect wrapped in senseless fear left over from childhood from similar personality types that in some way reminded me of her.

But there was something more…. I recall the day we signed up to do the donations and I heard her say, “Every little bit helps.”

“Every little bit helps?” I recall thinking. Was our donation too small? Was our donation just a little bit that would help? There it was. There’s the “why”. I had felt offended. And, in order to ask her this question I kept bumping up against the way I had taken her comment.

Those are not offensive words and I’m certain they weren’t meant to be. It is just that those words had gotten ‘in’ and found an ‘out of context’ placement in my mind and they needed to be exposed to the light of day and reexamined.

So that’s why I couldn’t ask this elementary question. I had taken offense to something and it was time to shed light on it and let it go, which was relatively easy to do once I knew what exactly I was asking myself to release.

Often times asking straightforward questions is the answer to healing something. In fact, we can change much more complex patterns of thought than this one by asking a bunch of direct questions, when we keep it directed towards a specific goal.

The obvious isn’t always obvious to the person with an issue that needs healing. There can be subtle, understandable, buried reasons in the way that a few questions, and a moment to answer them, can reveal. After all, we can’t heal what we don’t know is there.

Sometimes issues are hanging out in half-conscious ways and a few basic questions with an open mind and heart can help us to digest something that had gotten lodged.

Telling the truth should be an uncomplicated thing to do, but we hold back because maybe we think what we need to say is silly, or we are embarrassed to admit it or we fear it won’t be well received. Perhaps more importantly, we even do this in communication with ourselves. There’s a half-conscious, nagging thought in there but we don’t take a moment to examine it.

Clearing entire patterns of tangled up thought can be relatively easy when you ask a bunch of related questions in one sitting. The reward is the joy of sweet understanding of the inner workings of your mind and heart, and honest-to-goodness self-compassion and renewed energy.

The blessing of paper and pen, a few quiet moments, and honest answers from your heart can often sooth something you didn’t even know was there that needed soothing. What is that thing you need to say but feel you can’t? What is that question you need to ask either yourself or someone else but hold back asking? Grab a pen. Grab some paper. Write it down. Let’s see what it is. Give yourself the sweet gift of answering a simple question.

Julie Matheson is a holistic counselor, helping clients achieve lasting peace and renewal.
She believes everything is consciousness, and that limited thinking can be deeply changed when you address the entire pattern of belief in context. To be notified when her new book is released, please sign up for Julie’s e-newsletter at Signers-up receive 7 days of free meditations and journaling prompts.