Your priorities, goals, likes, and dislikes inevitably change with the passage of time. Beyond the simple in-and-outs of your everyday lives, you experience deeper changes as your life experiences evolve and transform us. More than ever, technology influences these life experiences including how you plan, experience, and remember them.
To truly know your partner, especially in the Digital Age, it is necessary to first know yourself. With the stressors of daily life, you don’t always have the opportunity to make the time to ponder these important questions of self-actualization.
Dr. John Gottman understands all of this and encourages you and your partner to set aside some time to consider the following questions.
The following exercise is not meant to be completed all at once. Complete this over time in a relaxed and focused manner. The conversations facilitated by this exercise can last for weeks, months, and even years to come. These questions will allow you to embark on deep and meaningful explorations.
Who Am I?
By John Gottman, Ph.D.
My triumphs and strivings
- What are some of the proudest moments of your life? What kinds of trying and stressful experiences have you survived in which you felt more powerful, victorious, capable of meeting challenges?
- How have these successes shaped your life, changed the way in which you view yourself, your goals, your dreams?
- Did your parents show you that they were proud of you for your accomplishments? What about other important figures in your life? How did this affect your experience of feelings of pride in yourself?
- Were you shown love and affection in your family? If not, how has this affected your relationships in your adult life?
My emotional injuries and healings
- What experiences have you had in which you have felt the deepest senses of disappointment, loss, self-doubt, hopelessness, loneliness?
- What kinds of deep traumas have you undergone? How have you survived through them? What kinds of changes do you feel in yourself after going through these difficult times in your life?
- How did you strengthen and heal yourself? How did you protect yourself? Did you find ways to avoid such experiences in the future?
- How do you think that these experiences have affected your relationships? Your relationship with your current partner? What do you want your partner to understand about you and your past injuries?
My mission and legacy
- What do you feel is the purpose of your life? What do you want to accomplish? What is your greatest struggle?
- What kind of a legacy do you want to leave behind when you are gone?
- What kinds of significant goals do you still yearn to realize to feel that you have lived a full life?
Who I want to become?
- Describe the person that you want to become.
- What kinds of struggles have you faced in trying to become that person?
- What internal demons are you fighting? What demons have you conquered?
- What would you most like to change about yourself?
- What do you want your life to be like in five years?
When you and your partner work through this exercise, set aside a time when you are both relaxed and uninterrupted. Put away distractions like your phone. While this exercise should inspire conversation, it can be long and complex. You can keep the conversation going throughout your lives as you change and dream and grow together.
Read more on the Digital Age blog series.