Originally asked by Ilkka: hmm… Ask anything is a dangerous promise. Is there any question in this world you would be afraid to answer?
The interesting part of your question for me is the process of thinking about it. What would cause one to be afraid of answering a question in public? There can be a number of reasons, but the interesting ones for me are Ego and honesty.
In the case of Ego, there could be questions for some people. whereby answering them, they would have to break down their own idea of themselves. For instance, if you have been telling yourself and also those around you that you are an emotionally unmovable person (as many in the current country of my residence do), and then you are faced with a question on emotions and feelings you have experienced during a traumatic event. At that point, you would have a choice to either open up your emotions publicly, and by that – to destroy your ego, or to lie about your emotions.
Which brings us to dishonesty, which is not too dissimilar. If you are asked about a situation where you have been dishonest with someone or yourself, and you need to answer to it publicly – it is all too convenient to simply continue the lies. The major problem, however, is not that you are lying to everybody around you – but that you are lying to yourself by doing so. The reason for your lies to everyone is to keep your image of yourself as either honest, successful or stable person – a “reality”. Basically, you want to fit into the picture that society has of you, and you will do anything to do that. It is a trap, however, as by continually reinforcing your ego, and fitting in – you run the risk of neglecting opportunities for growth – which lie in ego dissolution and being the real you – not some idea of you. Who would you be if you did not have to live up to some flawed image of yourself that either you or the society has put on you?
Think of it like an onion. The real you is somewhere at the core, but since we live in a world where parents, organizations such as schools and universities, governments, and friends have created a lot of fake imageries of who you are – there are layers built around that core. Do you do what you truly like or just something your parents thought would be a good career choice? Are you working because you want to reinforce your image as a financially successful person, which came from your social conditions in early childhood, or would you rather be a signer? Are you looking for a romantic relationship because you understand it’s true meaning to you or because you think it will “fix” you and make you happy? These are but some examples of questions that can get you closer to the core, and that – I believe is the most crucial piece of work anyone needs to do if they want to be honest to themselves and those around them.
Some other questions to ask yourself, and to answer honestly:
1a. “What are my current dreams/goals/ambitions?”
1b. “If I achieve all of the goals and ambitions that I have outlined – what would I do then?”
The answer to those two questions will be the closest representation of your ACTUAL “WHY” and not the fake one that you are more likely to be pursuing. For instance, you could say: “I want to make 10 million dollars” as your goal. Then you would say that after that you would “help build schools in Africa .” However, the first part is just an excuse not to do the second part. The chances are – you would be better off and build more schools if you just skipped the first part of ambition and started building schools right away. In actuality, I know a person who did just that and built an order of magnitude more schools in Africa than most billionaires.
2. “When was the last time my thoughts, and actions were not “in-sync”?”
We often lie to ourselves by thinking something but doing nothing about it. For me, it used to be something I did almost EVERY HOUR. For example, I used to think for years: “I really don’t like having meetings in the morning”. Until one day, I just decided to tell everyone that I am not going to have meetings in the morning. Nobody died. My fears did not materialize. From working on simple examples like this, and by learning more about myself – I started uncovering what I truly like in terms of work, people, patterns, relationships – and then I started going ahead and making those desires a reality.
3. What do you do all over again, that does not change anything in your life?
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – something Albert Einstein never said, and something that we still keep doing on a daily basis.
Those questions are a good start, in order to start peeling that onion away. As for myself – I am getting closer to the core every day because I try to practice radical honesty as much as I can. Does not always work, but I am getting there. So to answer your question – there are extremely few questions that I would not answer. Most of them would fall into either the legal category, where I have signed NDA’s for example or into the ethical one, where answering a question might have an effect on other people that they did not ask for. Besides those two situations, I feel that I could answer almost any question here.