- Social Worker Shahem Mclaurin’s “Life Changing Questions” TikTok series asks simple questions.
- Mclaurin says each has sparked epiphanies for him or his clients.
- Once you know the answers, though, Mclaurin says you need to take action by building healthier habits.
The fascination of changing our life in an instant is lasting. If we buy that car, or try curtain shots again, or sing affirmations under the full moon, then maybe our lives will look different and better.
But real and lasting change doesn’t work that way, and Shahem Mclaurin knows it. Mclaurin, a social worker whose TikTok series “Life Changing Questions” recently went viral, doesn’t promise a one-of-a-kind Hollywood montage for your inner life.
The 28-year-old, who lives in New York City, has been a Licensed Social Worker (LMSW) for seven years and works primarily with young people and families. 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 that “we have more answers than we credit ourselves” and having the opportunity to be present and examine our feelings in the moment can help us connect better with ourselves. themselves and others people.
He is quick to add that, of course, it is not as easy as simply asking these questions. For people ready to “tackle the music,” these questions are just suggestions and we might avoid asking them for a reason: “You have to act once you know the answer,” says Mclaurin.
“Do you have evidence for this?”
In his first video of the series, Mclaurin asks viewers if they have any evidence to support the assumptions they made, explaining that he first considered the question of “evidence” when he was convinced that his then partner was unfaithful.
“I’d let my anxiety lead the way,” she said. “I was filling in the gaps, filling in the blanks, often assuming the worst about people and situations, and taking on a lot of care and concern that I didn’t need.”
The purpose of the question, explains Mclaurin, is not so much about what qualifies as evidence, as it is about examining what you might be trying to control. “Are you looking for this evidence so you can have a means of self-sabotaging?” asks, “Are you looking for evidence so you can validate fears?”
Often, says Mclaurin, we seek information to validate our worst fears and, in so doing, “become our worst enemies.” Instead of practicing vulnerability, we try to protect ourselves from being emotionally hurt – abandoned, rejected – by trying to prove that our fears are right.
“What does it say about my self-esteem that I am allowing this behavior?”
This is a good question to help you get yourself 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 from other sources outside of yourself and developing it on your own,” he said. Ultimately, it’s 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 the utmost importance. People who are in a relationship should consider whether they are able to express themselves without feeling chastened, judged, or risking losing their love.
But Mclaurin is also quick to add that it’s not necessarily a puzzle if the answer is “no”.
“There will be a conflict in literally every relationship you have when there are two separate people or more separated people,” he tells me. “We all want different things and have different experiences.” So, the key is to challenge yourself to communicate that discomfort when it inevitably arises and, in doing so, create an opportunity for you and your loved ones to learn how to resolve conflict healthily.
Distractions help us avoid having our feelings, but they are important for building healthy relationships
Mclaurin says so. Unfortunately, people tend to disconnect or intentionally step away from moments of self-reflection by distracting themselves with social media.
These simple questions – paradoxically, you know, served to viewers via a notoriously compelling social media app – can help you start controlling yourself. And, for Mclaurin, it’s an opportunity to meet people exactly where they are, parachuting into mental health insights into TikTok FYP’s bright and endless slot machine.
“I’m not their therapist, “he tells me, referring to the hundreds of thousands of people who have now seen his videos.” I’m a social media therapist.