Cheri, Cheri, Quite Contrary

gardenMy dad used to say it as if it were my full name, “Cheri, Cheri, quite contrary.” His version was, of course, a takeoff of the nursery rhyme in which the line that follows reads: “How does your garden grow?” I hear him again in my head each spring when my yard begins to bloom. Was he just being funny, or did my dad have a point? Am I contrary?

I don’t think I’m really contrary, but I’m certainly contrarian. I don’t accept conventional wisdom without careful consideration. I gather loads of information before making a decision. I play devil’s advocate so that I can turn an idea around and see the other side. I’m not afraid to hang a jury. I can remain calm in the midst of a crisis because I focus on the next best step to take rather than on the idea that there’s a crisis.

This mode of operating makes me feel as though I am strong, solid, resilient, and competent. Some people agree with this view. Others see my contrarian nature as a huge pain in the booty. And so it will always go.

And that is why I don’t want to focus on that particular question. Whether or not I’m contrary is not important. In fact, I think we often get sidetracked by asking ourselves and our children the wrong questions.

We ask:
What do you want to be when you grow up – doctor, lawyer, engineer, programmer, professor, fireman, pilot, plumber…
Instead of asking:
How do you want to be when you grow up – kind, courageous, motivated, knowledgeable, innovative, powerful, conscientious, loyal…

We ask:
What do you want to do – drive a truck, find a husband, play pro basketball, buy a big house…
Instead of asking:
What qualities do you want to contribute to the world – compassion, thoughtfulness, peacefulness, gratitude, generosity, honesty…

We ask:
Will your new job pay more?
Instead of asking:
How will your new job feel better to you than your previous job?

We ask:
Is your new job a career advancement?
Instead of asking:
Is there something you want to learn from this new job?

We ask:
Will I start, Coach?
Instead of asking:
How do you think I can help the team, Coach?

We ask:
Why doesn’t my husband do more around the house?
Instead of asking:
Why haven’t I thanked my husband for working so hard?

We ask:
Why doesn’t my wife keep the toys picked up?
Instead of asking:
I wonder if my wife would like some me time while I bathe the kids and pick up the toys?

We ask:
Why do the other salesmen get all the leads?
Instead of asking:
What can I do to make my customer’s day easier?

We ask:
Should I go to the party?
Instead of asking:
What are my intentions in going to this party?

We ask:
Why isn’t this partnership working?
Instead of asking:
If this partnership were to end, what would I want that process to look like?

We ask:
How can I say no?
Instead of asking:
How can I say yes when it feels like I’m betraying myself?

We ask:
How can I find the time to take care of myself?
Instead of asking:
How can I take care of my family if I don’t take care of myself?

Now, I’ll ask:
Are the questions you’re asking helping you show up in the world in the manner you desire?

If not, now’s a great time to change up the questions!

Cheri, Cheri, quite contrary? Depends on why you’re asking!

Author: Cheri Thriver

Hello, Cheri Thriver here blogging about cooking, thriving, and the intersection of the two. I’ve been living a gluten-free lifestyle for over 15 years. I understand that it’s rarely a lack of knowledge or the availability of appropriate food that keeps us from making healthy choices. More often than not, it’s an emotional connection, previous trauma, or fear of social reprisal that keeps us stuck. My wish is that you’ll find something here that informs, entertains, or inspires you to change anything that needs to be changed for you to live fully and thrive.

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