3 Questions to deepen your self-awareness

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3 Questions to deepen your self-awareness

April 26th, 2022
By: Lauren Lowrey
[Full transcript for this AMPstigator episode with Lauren Lowrey below]

Let me ask you a question: What does your self-talk sound like?

Is it soft and serene with encouragements and praise or profanity-laced, snide and disparaging? How you talk to yourself indicates how much self-love you practice in your daily life. The more love you give yourself, the more love you're able to share. It also indicates whether you'll ever find the answers to the biggest questions in your life, like what am I here to do and what's my purpose.

The question about my self-talk is what inspired today's episode (the first Lauren-only iteration of AMPstigator). It was a question I was asked recently while being interviewed on another podcast.

"What does your self-talk sound like?"

I loved that question because I've never heard anything like it. But my response in that moment was resolute.

"QUESTIONS!" I said. "My self-talk is always questions."

These days, I find myself asking even the most basic questions:
Did I eat today?
When should I do that?
How do I have that conversation?

The questions I'm asking aren't as hard or heavy as they were in early 2021 when I first started the fiery, difficult work of transformation. I was deeply unhappy and unfulfilled. 

Yes, I had three healthy children, a cool job and a loving husband, but I still kept asking myself "is this it?" I was ashamed of that question because it made me feel ungrateful.

But I couldn't hide my disillusionment. I had done everything our society says to do and at 36, I knew it wasn't enough. It was in those months that I realized I needed to go inward. Go deeper. The answers would be there if I would only be brave enough to ask the questions I had always avoided.

The importance of questions
I've made a career out of asking questions. I started working as a reporter in Local TV News in 2006. In my early days of broadcast, it was doing every last bit of the work myself: shooting the video while conducting the interviews, writing the script, editing the video and then presenting it live on TV. 

When I became a News Anchor leading newscasts, the questions I asked were live on TV during interviews of another person. In that arena, your questions are there for anyone to critique or judge their validity. As an anchor, you're evaluated based on the types of questions you ask, not to mention how you ask them. 

Questions and their answers provide the basis for an entire day of news coverage. If you're asking the wrong questions, you've likely missed an important story and highlighted how little you understand about a given situation. When you ask the right questions, you uncover new insights and deepen your awareness. 

We can apply that same importance to the questions we ask ourselves. 

How will we ever know our purpose if we aren’t brave enough to ask the question?

Some of the questions I started to ask myself, early on were:

Am I really happy?
Do I really enjoy what I'm doing?
What parts of my life do I love?
What parts of my life do I not love?
What gets me excited?
What makes me dread getting out of bed?

If you’ve never asked yourself these questions before, answering them won’t happen overnight. It took me several months to get to an answer that felt resonant in my soul, but it also required me to unpeel the layers of expectation that had been put on me for my entire life. 

I’ve seen it take years for some people to reach a level of self-awareness where they were ready for the answers. But it’s the commitment to the line of questioning that matters. 

When we choose to delve deeper into our own personal understanding, we allow a new level of complexity and an acceptance to what emerges as the answer. 

I want to encourage you to start with three questions that are decidedly less complex to answer.

3 Questions to start a journey of self-awareness 

  1. Am I really happy?
    Be honest with yourself. If you're truly happy with where you are, then maybe you're here to be a beacon to others on how to find peace and fulfillment in their life. 

  2. What parts of my life do I love?
    If even this feels murky, start doing live with your antennas up. Pay attention to the things that warm your heart and the things that make you smile. When do you find yourself saying "I don't want this to end!" Take special note of that. The goal is to maximize those times and minimize the things that emerge in the next question. 

  3. What parts of my life do I not love?
    This is important, too! If you want to get out of living in a victim mindset (I mean, who doesn't?!?) you need to understand what triggers you. Let's not dwell on the negative, too much, because we just want to identify those things and then begin really feeling out what we DO want in our lives.

I encourage you to take the time to begin asking yourself these question. Maybe start with a walk in nature and think about when you're the happiest and best you! 

Be curious. Give yourself the space to let the answers bubble up within. I believe in you and I'm always cheering you on!


Full episode transcript:

April 26th, 2022
Lauren Lowrey

I'm Lauren Lowrey and this is AMPstigator. 

 Today is gonna be a little different from what you’ve been used to. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I do long-form one-on-one interviews. it’s all about wisdom-sharing, soul-baring conversations that help you connect deeper with purpose, and that’s always what it’ll be.

 But today is different in a major way. There's no one to bounce questions off of. There’s no one to get-to-know, because I'm not sitting across from anyone. It’s just me and you and I’m about to do something that i’ve been coached for 16 years *not to do*.

 You know what it is?


 Talk about myself.

Look – I have no problem connecting with someone. I promise you if we were together right now, in person, you and me – we’d be drinking a margarita and I would willingly over-share everything. 

 I hide nothing.

I bag on my kids.

I commiserate about having zero time.

I cry.

I laugh too loud.

I hug and linger too long.

I never want girl time to end and I'm totally comfortable with that.

 But when you put a mic in my face and ask me to talk about myself, you have to understand there is trauma there. I've gotten in trouble my entire career for straying from just-the-facts.

it was always “Read the news and shut-up.” That’s been changing mainly because millennials want something totally different and we’re now the bulk of the target age demographic for advertisers. So, that’s good for me, at least.

 But I got into tv in 2006, right out of college, when boomers were the only people running newsrooms and at that time, boomers were the main target viewers. So what did they want? Zero personality. The research showed it over and over.

 Literally, the phrase was always “Just the facts.”

 We have consultants in t-v – and if you’ve listened to some of my other episodes you’ve heard me talk about some of this before. But, consultants – they’re all very nice people – but their entire job is to make you fit a mold. They come in and tell you how to be better. Obviously.

But when it’s a performance field, they’re critiquing *you.*

 Your body.

Your hair.

Your clothes.

How you speak.

How you pronounce certain words. 

How you laugh.

 In my experience, a lot of times they became the mouth-piece for what the bosses really wanted but weren’t allowed to say to you because it would be inappropriate.

 I'll never forget one time in 2011, I was at a new job and I was already getting in trouble for having too much fun on-air. And for this particular consultant meeting, I had to meet her in the dressing room at the Nordstrom store in town.

Right out of the gate she said to me:

“We have some clothes of yours we’re banning. From now on, you can’t wear anything that doesn’t cover your elbows.”

 I was like “My elbows? Is this footloose? Is there no dancing next?”

 She said to me – and I quote – “your station is run by old white men and they don’t want to see you in sleeveless dresses any more.”

 I was like, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”

 That's just a story we can laugh at. There were hurtful conversations about the way I smiled or laughed or the way I told personal stories.

 Look – I was a good kid. I followed the rules. I did what was asked. But as an adult, I really bristle when I'm boxed in.

 So these consultants caused me major trauma about how I Look, how I do my hair, how I talk – and, as it concerns today – what I say about myself into a microphone.

 So, over the years, I’ve learned **how to have personality, but not actually be myself** when I’m in front of a mic.

 Whoa, there’s a lot to unpack there and maybe over time this podcast will help me unpeel the layers of that. because frankly, that’s something I should heal. I'm old enough now to recognize that I'm in charge and I don't have to listen to anyone else’s opinion about what I wear, what I say, or how I present myself.

 As an aside – I’ve had a conversation about this with another podcast guest – Brooke Martin, she’s the firestarter. The first 20 or 25 minutes of that conversation from Season 1 Episode 5 is about being a news anchor for television and the mold you have to fill. So check that out after this. 

 But before we get into what I actually planned to talk about today, I have to tell you what a nightmare it was to try to even record this today. Right before I hit record, this is what my house sounded like (construction). 

 I am living in a remodel that started today. The quietest my house ever gets is when my kids go to school in the morning and I'm alone just before work. It’s the best time to record anything, but not anymore. My house will sound like this for the next -I don’t know- 38 years. 

 I told my main editor “take a breather, I got this episode. It's only audio. I'll record and edit it, it’ll be fine.”

 So – that’s my way of telling you if my edit sucks, cut me some slack. [laughs]


So let's get into what I actually wanted to talk with you about today. It's something I've been thinking a lot about and it's all about questions. I was asked recently, when I was being interviewed for a podcast by a podcast host, who's actually writing a book. He asked me, "What does your self-talk sound like? And I said, "Questions. My self-talk is questions." And I want to give you an opportunity to reflect on that for yourself.

I'm sure a lot of people probably answer, "Oh, sometimes I talk hard to myself or sometimes I get down on myself." Others might say, "I'm always uplifting myself." Or maybe, "I talk to myself like I talk to my children; Lauren, did you eat today? Lauren, did you eat some vegetables? Lauren, did you move today? Lauren, did you drink enough water today?" 

 But even still those are questions. And it surprised me when this podcast person told me, he said, "Wow questions?" He said, "I've never had anyone say that." And, so, then I started thinking even more about it. I thought, "Do people, really, not ask themselves questions?" Because the foundation, for me, of understanding anything is always questions.

What do I want in this situation? How does this make me feel? What will happen if I make this choice? If we're not operating with questions, how are we ever gonna find the real answer? 

Something that you've heard me talk about on this podcast before, in the 16th, 17th episodes that have come before this one. I talk about the question that I was never brave enough to answer for myself. That question was, "What do I want?" I mean, that was a big, heavy question.

There's another podcast with Clara Belden that's coming up in a few weeks, that I'm really excited for you to hear her question that she had to answer for herself was, "Who am I?" And she answered it about the same time I did, maybe even a couple of years earlier. 

Once she got into her 30s, started having kids, MBA, running her own company, and she's like, "God, who am I?" And, so, it became the launch pad for everything that she created, which is why I actually interviewed her, was about what she created. And I am thinking about my own experience too, "What do I want?" "Who am I?" 

If you're not brave enough to ask yourself those kinds of questions, how will you ever deepen your understanding of yourself or what it is that you're here to do. Questions are everything.

I think about my role as a news anchor and in every editorial meeting, every interview, I ask, every time that something's developing, it's always questions. "Well, how did that happen?" "How did this person escape from jail?" "Why did this person have a gun?" Well, I mean, there's always questions. And, quite frankly, in my job, if you're not asking the right questions you're in the wrong place. It all comes down to the questions you ask. 

So if I can look at my life as objectively as I look at my job, I need to be asking myself the questions that matter. "Am I really happy?" "Do I really enjoy what I'm doing?" "What parts of my life do I love?" "What parts of my life do I not love?" "What gets me excited?" "What makes me dread getting out of bed?" And these were all the questions I had to ask myself at a really, really, pivotal time in my life.

It was January 2021, I had just turned 36 years old, and I'd also just come back from maternity leave from the birth of my third child. He was my COVID baby, he was born in August of 2020. So I was pregnant during lockdown and there was something about that time just being home before he was born. And then also my maternity leave which lasted almost to the end of 2020. And, so, when I came back to work, I mean, things had just shifted. 

 Things at work were different, from just the day-to-day stress of trying to manage a newsroom during the pandemic.

So things had already changed, the work environment was starting to change and it was grating on everyone. But, for me, it was a particularly stark change because I had just left an area, my home, this cocoon of love and warmth. I mean, it was just a beautiful time and a time of real self-reflection. I mean, I've called my third child, "The kid who brought clarity."

Because, whether it was his birth or whether it was the timing with COVID or maybe it was me having my 36th birthday. Something was happening all at that same time that just brought major clarity for me, and it's what informed the question I now ask every single guest in every single episode, I ask them, "When was your greatest moment of clarity?"

That question was informed by my experience of clarity having that third child, being home during COVID, clearing the schedule, having nothing else to think about or do, I mean, just being alone with your thoughts. And for a thinker, I mean, I'm a thinker, so for a thinker, that was an amazing time. And, so, to come out of that time, and be struck with this harsh reality that things were very different, I had to start asking myself those questions. 

It came after a really bad meeting, January 2021, and I had an important person, essentially, tell me they had no idea why I'd been hired. And I spent 30 minutes in that conversation saying, "Hey, here's why I've been hired, here is all the things I bring to the table."

But I left that meeting and locked myself in a makeup room for 30 minutes and I cried. And it wasn't egoic tears, it wasn't because I felt like I wasn't being valued. The tears were the shedding of an old identity and the realization that I had to make my own way. That I could no longer allow other people to determine my value.

I mean, that's what got me through in my 20s and early 30s, I mean, doing what people had asked me to do. Shape-shifting in the way that different consultants had asked me to, that's how I kept getting hired. But I shaved a part of myself off to do that. And, so, those tears, January 2021, were because I realized that I would have to answer for my choices. 

I would have to show myself what I was capable of and actually act on the gifts that I'd been given. So all of the questions I was asking came out of that time and that's where the questions started. I mean, I really had to figure it out. I'd always put off to answering those questions, but this was the time that I couldn't put it off anymore.

All of these questions started at a time when I had already been profiling people, for work, who were doing just some really incredible things in their career. They'd achieved amazing things, regardless of the industry they were in. So maybe business, maybe the music industry, maybe philanthropy, but whatever it was they had achieved something and that's why I was profiling them. And they were positive stories, encouraging stories.

 But what I started to find is that I had longer and longer conversations with these people. The typical interview length for these kinds of stories should have been less than 15 minutes, but my recorded interviews were going for 30 and 40 minutes, which is like unheard of. And I'm sure my photographers hated me because they were like, "We're running out of tape here, running out of room on the digital card here."

Even after we would stop recording I would still keep talking to these people. And our conversation started really trending spiritual, metaphysical, I mean, it became about so much more than what they'd achieved. And, so, one night, I think it was March 2021, I'm lying in bed 3:00 a.m. staring at the ceiling. Everyone in my house is asleep but I just had this realization, it's like it hit me like a lightning bolt.

What all of those people had in common, the common thread there, was not, achievement, was not hard work, the thread was purpose and they had been living with purpose. It was why I was so magnetized to them. It was why I just couldn't ever seem to put my finger on what it was that they were doing that was just so miraculous.

I realized at that point I wanted that, I want purpose. I'm not living with purpose, I needed to inject purpose into what I was doing. That's where the questions started. And I started saying, "How can I use my platform to really make a difference?"

Because it had really been bothering me, that was another question that I had been asking myself for a while, "What can I do that makes a difference?" Nothing I was doing made a difference. 

Yes, I was reading the news. Yes, I was informing the community, but what real difference was I making? And I couldn't answer until now. And, so, I want to really encourage you today to begin asking the questions of yourself that really matter.

For me, that question was, "What do I want?" One of the questions that came before it, that I felt real shame about at the time, was, "Is this it?" And I think I felt shame because it made me feel ungrateful.

We're told, as women, if we have a great job, great career, making great money, and then we have a family, we have a husband that loves us, we have healthy kids, we're doing all the things. We're doing all the things that our '80s moms wanted us to do, we're fulfilling it.

But I got to that place, about 35, and I was just, kind of, looking around going, "Is this it?" And I felt shame for that question for a long time, and I feel like now I'm de-shaming that question, because I try to talk about it more. 

Mainly because I feel like there's a lot of women that are my age, 37 like me right now, or maybe you're 31, 32, maybe you're 42 and you're saying the same thing, like, "God is this it?"

But you feel shame for that? I felt shame because I thought it made me sound ungrateful. I've got all these things that should be hallmarks of success, why do I keep asking myself this question? And I finally decided, "Is this it?" That question, that is a marker that there is more.

So here's my question to you; what if there's more for you? I want you to really ponder that question. What if there's more? What happens when more is there for you? I know one of the women that I interviewed in season one, our final episode, episode 13, Mary Gauthier, she talked about whispers. 

The whispers, never shouting to her about needing to change her career, she was a chef. Now she's become a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and she just writes incredible stuff.

But when she was in her 30s and she started writing music and really doing well. It was the whispers, never a shout, never a loud bang, it's just the knocking at, I would say her soul, of like, "Hey, try it. What would happen if you tried a career in music?" And that was what it was for her.

 But we need to begin connecting back with our own bodies in a way that I think, as women, our intuition is there. I mean, we're just so uniquely qualified to go ahead and reconnect with self and reconnect with body in a way that, I think, men probably are not.

I think about the journey through pregnancy, as a woman, how much you have to connect to your body. How much you have to just listen. And then once the child comes along your child cannot speak to you. So you have to listen there too and really feel out the right answer in a time when there's no one there to help you, it's just you, you've got to figure it out.

So, I think as women we're always put in these situations where we have to listen. But for some reason we're not listening in the way we need to, to what our heart really wants. And, so, I'm hoping that this conversation gets you to a point, today, where you start asking yourself the questions, again, of what it is that you really want? Who you really are? And if you feel like there’s more for you, there is, there is more.

So, this podcast is here to help you begin to discover what that is. What is the more? What is that for you? I believe by putting purpose front and center for people, for really putting it on the pedestal, and giving people an example of what it is, I think, that's the opportunity to really say, "Okay, here's an example of purpose, this person is doing it, I can do it too.

Every single person I put on this podcast, to me, is an example of purpose. They are what I call a prototype. Some people are experts; so the authors, coaches, teachers, mentors, the people who are helping others find purpose, those are the experts.

But everybody in their own way is a prototype. And what is a prototype by definition, prototype is singular, it's the only one. And I believe purpose is that way for every person, you are the only person who can do what you are here to do.

I mean, let's put me in this equation, yeah, thousands of people have podcasts. Yeah, hundreds of people across this country are anchors, right? But no one is gonna do this the way I do it and I say that to you too. No one is gonna do what you do the way you do it.

So if I can be the person for you today, who encourages you, who forces you to ask yourself the question, who creates community around this idea of realizing you are not alone?

God, then what a gift? What a gift? I can finally say, "I figured out what it is. What am I supposed to do?" This. This is what I'm supposed to do. If I can use my platform and help awaken you to your full potential, then I've done it, that's what I'm here to do.

So if you're with me right now and you're thinking, "Oh, my gosh, Lauren, you've thrown so many questions at me today, I don't even know where to start." I totally get that, we need to take it bite-sized.

So here are the three questions that I think you should start with first. Probably, the biggest one is, "Am I really happy?" I know that's a heavy one. "Am I really happy?" "What parts of my life do I love and what do I not love?

I think it's important that we figure out what we don't love, certainly, but we can't dwell on the negative. We have to say, "What is gonna make me happy?" So there are those three questions that I think are where you need to start. "Am I really happy?" "What parts of my life do I love and what do I not love?"

That's really the foundation of the bigger questions. That's the beginning of getting to the point where you can finally answer, "Who am I and what do I want?" Again, we're gonna take this bite-size, little by little. But I appreciate you taking this journey with me, and I'm figuring it out too, but I invite you to do that with me.

So if there's someone else who you think should be a part of this conversation, as well, go ahead and share this episode, share AMPstigator. Let them know what we're doing, and take time to listen to some of the other episodes with people who have found purpose. I think you'll find it inspiring and encouraging for whatever hardships you're facing today.

Thanks for spending time with me, I'll see you next week.

I'm Lauren Lowrey, and this is AMPstigator.



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