Social worker shares 'life-changing' questions on TikTok – Insider

The allure of changing our lives in an instant is enduring. If we buy that car, or try curtain bangs again, or chant affirmations under a full moon, then perhaps our lives will look and feel different — and better.
But real and lasting change doesn’t work that way, and Shahem Mclaurin knows this. Mclaurin, a social worker whose TikTok series “questions that change lives” recently went viral, isn’t promising a one-stop Hollywood makeover montage for your interior life. 
The 28-year-old, who lives in New York City, has been a licensed social worker (LMSW) for seven years, and primarily works with youth and families. The questions, Mclaurin tells me, have elicited epiphanies in himself or in his clients, and people should approach the intentionally broad questions prepared to “take what resonates, and leave what doesn’t.”
The reason the questions have worked, Mclaurin tells me, is that “we have more answers than we give ourselves credit for,” and being given an opportunity to be present and examine our feelings in the moment can help us better connect with ourselves and other people.
He’s quick to add that it’s not, of course, as easy as simply asking yourself these questions. For people ready to “face the music,” these questions are only prompts — and we might be avoiding asking them for a reason: “You have to act once you know the answer,” Mclaurin says.
In his first video of the series, Mclaurin asks viewers if they have evidence to support assumptions they’ve made, explaining that he first considered the “evidence” question when he was convinced his then-partner was being unfaithful.
“I would let my anxiety lead the way,” he said. “I was filling in the gaps, filling in the blanks, oftentimes 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, Mclaurin explains, is not so much about what qualifies as evidence so much as examining what you might be trying to control. “Are you looking for this evidence so you can have a means to self-sabotage?” he asks, “Are you looking for evidence so you can validate fears?”
Oftentimes, Mclaurin says, we seek out information to validate our worst fears, and, in doing so, “become our worst enemies.” Instead of practicing vulnerability, we try to protect ourselves from being hurt emotionally — abandoned, rejected — by attempting to prove that our fears are right.
This is a good question to help pull yourself out of a negative pattern, Mclaurin said, recalling when it helped him end a toxic relationship. It’s “a great way to pivot from seeking emotional fulfillment from other sources outside of yourself and developing it on your own,” he said. Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to reassess your relationship with yourself and realign with what you actually want for yourself. 
Mclaurin says emotional safety with another person is of the utmost importance. People in relationships should consider whether they’re able to express themselves without feeling chastised, judged, or at risk of losing their love.
But Mclaurin is also quick to add that it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if the answer is “no.” 
“There’s going to be conflict in literally every relationship you have when there’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 that discomfort when it inevitably arises — and, by doing so, create an opportunity for you and your loved ones to learn how to healthily resolve conflict. 
Mclaurin says that. unfortunately, people tend to intentionally disconnect or pull away 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 begin checking in with yourself. And, for Mclaurin, it’s an opportunity to meet people exactly where they are — parachuting in mental health insights into the bright, infinite distraction slot machine of the TikTok FYP.
“I am not their therapist,” he tells me, referencing the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve now viewed his videos. “I am a therapist using social media.”
Keep reading


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *