Your essential question for 2018

The end of December brings a lot of reflection. As 2017 comes to a close, I want to offer you one of the most essential tools I’ve learned from a colleague of mine. I have used it to guide myself, and many of my clients, as a means to check a pulse— not the pulse we are all accustomed to checking, but the one we usually take for granted. Ironically, to measure this emotional pulse, you must ask yourself this question:

“How is your heart?”

Take a moment. Check in with yourself.

What happens when you ask this question?

What did you notice in your body?

Did other thoughts come to mind to quickly dismiss the question?

“Never-mind how my heart is! I don’t have time to for this. My living room is a mess and there is laundry everywhere, my kids aren’t signed up for any activities yet and I need to make dinner.”

This sort of thought is the type of thought many of us will have, very naturally, because most of us aren’t practiced in making the time or space to check in with ourselves, and certainly not practiced in doing this on a regular basis.

Let’s try it again.

How is your heart?  What does it tell you? What does it want? In what ways are you feeling content? And what nags at you, where are you pulled to make a change?

The spirit of the question is consistent with a mindfulness based strategy of taking an approach of curiosity to your inner experience, and working towards managing and controlling the judgment of that experience. Judgment of our experience comes in thoughts like “I shouldn’t want more than I already have.” or “If I allow myself to feel a wanting, I am weak”.  In any form, judgment may find a way to shut you down.

So bring yourself back to the question. How is your heart? What does it want? What does it need?

Let this help you as you reflect. Maybe you want to spend more time with a partner. Maybe you wish you had time to read more books. Maybe, like so many of us, you want to make time to tend to the health of your body. Or maybe it is time to tend to your spiritual or emotional health. Perhaps you want to work through the grief of a loss, or ready yourself for a new relationship.

If you notice that you have a reaction to the original question, stay with it and listen. The answers you hear can guide you to the adjustments you may want to consider in the new year. Let your heart be your beacon.  Do not bypass your heart. Listen to it.

From my heart to yours, Happy New Year.

Megan Warner, PhD is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Guilford Psychological Services. Email Megan at

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