- The TikTok series “Questions That Change Lives” by social worker Shahem Mclaurin asks simple questions.
- Mclaurin says each has sparked epiphanies for him or his clients.
- Once you know the answers, however, Mclaurin says you need to take action by adopting healthier habits.
The lure of changing our lives in an instant is lasting. If we buy that car, or try to hit the curtain again, or singing affirmations under the full moonthen maybe our lives will be different and better.
But real, lasting change doesn’t work that way, and Shahem Mclaurin knows it. Mclaurin, a social worker whose TikTok series “questions that change lives” recently went viral, does not promise a unique Hollywood makeover montage for your inner life.
The 28-year-old, who lives in New York, has been a registered social worker (LMSW) for seven years and works primarily with young people and families. The questions, Mclaurin tells me, have elicited epiphanies in himself or his clients, and people should approach the intentionally broad questions prepared to “take what resonates and leave what doesn’t.”
The reason the questions worked, Mclaurin tells me, is because “we have more answers than we think,” and having the ability to be present and examine our feelings in the moment can help us better connect with ourselves and with others. people.
He hastens to add that it is of course not as simple as simply asking these questions. For people ready to “face the music,” these questions are just prompts — and we may avoid asking them for a reason: “You need to take action once you know the answer,” Mclaurin says.
“Do you have proof of that?
In his first video of the series, Mclaurin asks viewers if they have any evidence to back up the assumptions they’ve made, explaining that he first considered the issue of “evidence” when he was convinced that his partner then was unfaithful.
“I would let my anxiety lead the way,” he said. “I filled in the gaps, filled in the blanks, often assumed the worst about people and situations, and took a lot of care and worry that I didn’t need.”
The purpose of the question, Mclaurin explains, is not so much to find out what counts as evidence, but rather to examine what you may be trying to control. “Are you looking for this evidence to have a way to self-sabotage? he asks, “Are you looking for evidence to validate your fears?”
Often, says Mclaurin, we seek out information to validate our worst fears, and in doing so, “become our own worst enemies.” Instead of practicing vulnerability, we try to protect ourselves from emotional hurt – abandoned, rejected – by trying to prove our fears right.
“What does it say about my self-esteem that I allow this behavior?”
It’s a good question to help get you out of a negative pattern, Mclaurin said, recalling when it helped him. end a toxic relationship. It’s “a great way to move from seeking emotional fulfillment to other sources outside of yourself and developing it on your own,” he said. Ultimately, this is an opportunity to reevaluate your relationship with yourself and realign yourself with what you actually want for yourself.
“Do they make me feel safe?”
McLaurin says emotional security with another person is of utmost importance. Couples should ask themselves if they are able to express themselves without feeling reprimanded, judged or risking losing their love.
But Mclaurin is also quick to add that it’s not necessarily a deciding factor if the answer is “no”.
“There’s going to be conflict in literally every relationship you have when it’s two separate people or multiple separate people,” he tells me. “We all want different things and have different experiences.” So, the key is to challenge yourself to communicate this discomfort when it inevitably arises – and in doing so, to create an opportunity for you and your loved ones to learn healthy conflict resolution.
Distractions help us avoid feeling our feelings – but it’s important for building healthy relationships
McLaurin says so. unfortunately, people tend to intentionally disconnect or distance themselves from moments of self-reflection by distracting themselves with social media.
These simple questions – paradoxically, he knows, served to viewers via a notoriously addictive social media app – can help you start checking in with yourself. And, for Mclaurin, it’s an opportunity to meet people right where they are — parachuting mental health information into the TikTok FYP’s bright, endless distraction slot.
“I’m not their therapist,” he tells me, referring to the hundreds of thousands of people who have now viewed his videos. “I’m a therapist who uses social media.”