A few nights ago, just when I had got into bed, the phone rang. It was our neighbour’s teenage son saying that he had seen a person jump over our common boundary wall. He said it happened earlier that day, and convinced it was a burglar, he called police. They found no evidence of a crime however and left. He was now on his own in the house and very scared.

We talked a little bit longer and agreed to leave all our house lights burning that night, and talk again the following day.

Nothing happened that night and the next day I spoke to him again. Rather than being reassured, he was in even more of a state. So I tried to help him find some perspective.

“What is the worst possible thing that could happen?” I asked.

“I will be attacked!”

“And what are the chances of that happening?” I asked.

After some time he said that the chances of being burgled were not as high as he was feeling. Even if the house was burgled, he eventually concluded, the chances of him being attacked were fortunately small.

I needed to shift his focus from being stuck in the past, to a more engaging and optimistic future. So we spent some time exploring various answers to three really powerful questions:

• How can you accept this?
• Is there some opportunity in this?
• What can you learn from this?
How can you accept this?

In discussing various answers to the question, he eventually acknowledged that crime is a fact of life but he fortunately lives in safe neighborhood. He also said that some other people live in much more dangerous circumstances then he does.

Is there some opportunity in this?

The obvious response is that there certainly isn’t an opportunity in being burgled and potentially attacked! It took some work to explore answers beyond the obvious. He eventually came up with the idea that perhaps this was an opportunity to get to know his neighbours better and to join the Neighborhood Watch.

What can you learn from this?

This question turned out to be the most helpful. He eventually concluded that he needed to feel secure when he was on his own, and that it was up to him to do things that make him feel safe. He committed to drawing up a list of practical actions he would take that evening.

The answers he came up with to these three powerful questions changed his focus from being stuck in the past, to creating a different future for himself. They helped him move from being a victim, to taking charge of his life. The answers can transform his life.

Making this change stick however will be neither quick nor easy, but he is definitely on the right track.

So I would gently like to challenge you: are there areas in your life where you are stuck? If so, try working through these three powerful questions to find ways of changing your life for the better.