“An empowered life begins with serious personal questions about oneself. Those answers bare the seeds of success.” –Steve Maraboli,
We all are born with innate curiosity and a natural ability to question. As young children, we constantly evaluate as to what things mean, to understand everything intuitively and explore by asking questions. We learn to think and grow by seeking answers to make sense of everything. However, by the time we are adults, we stop asking questions. This is mainly because as grown-ups we tend to put more value on answers than asking questions. In reality, the questions we ask ourselves or others could very well be a powerful motivating force and equally demotivating that can not only influence our decisions and actions positively, but also negatively if they are not framed in the right manner.
Questions determine everything you do in life, from your abilities to your relationships to your personal or professional goals. Because of their very nature, questions naturally focus your mind on thinking strategies that help expand the possibilities and find solutions to the challenges that confront you. They set off a processional effect that can impact your thoughts in new perspectives. Either consciously or unconsciously we spend most of our time questioning ourselves regarding our decisions, ideas or actions when it comes to our daily goals or activities. Questioning our limitations to probe the validity of an assumption, analyse the logic of an argument or to explore the unknown keeps you unstuck in your personal or professional endeavours.
As the wise saying says, “Only the inquiring mind solves problems,” unless we ask the right questions, we will not get the right answers. And if asked or framed in the right way, they empower in overcoming the limitations that stand between you and your objectives and point you to right answers. So, if you want to change the quality of your life, you should ask quality questions to direct your focus, thoughts and emotions in positive ways .
Quality questions create quality life.
It is not the events that shape your life, but the way you interpret and evaluate your life experiences and this plays a vital part in who you become or who you are as a person. In other words, the way you evaluate, interpret and create meaning out of your life events determines the type of decisions you make and the actions you take. The evaluations we make are nothing but questions and in a way, these questions determine our thoughts. Studies have revealed that people are more likely to do a task if they pose it to themselves as a question rather than a command. When you word a task into a question, it turns into a challenge where your brain works on coming up with ideas that you are more likely to act upon. Just like how we access files in a computer with the proper commands, we also can access information from our brain through power of asking questions.
But quite often, we get habitual in subjecting ourselves to disempowering questions like in the form of accusations that emphasise our past failures or our insecurities about future. Questions like ‘What’s the use?’ ‘Why can’t I succeed?’ or ‘Why even try, since things never seem to work our way?’ or ‘Why me?’ can self-sabotage your efforts in accomplishing what you want to. In any given situation, you can either focus on what is empowering or disempowering and the answers you seek mostly depend on the type of questions you are subjecting yourself to.
You can only unleash your inner power by asking simple but yet empowering questions. Asking empowering questions brings you closer to answers or solutions and can change your beliefs about what’s possible. Empowering questions can help you find more positive meaning in any given situation. On the other hand, disempowering questions make you sink into the habit of blaming others, events, or circumstances and make you unproductive and un-resourceful.
“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” Claude Levi-Strauss
Power of asking quality questions
Quality or self-empowering questions have a deep meaningful purpose that enable you to take benefit of the opportunities that are in front of you. They stretch you out of your limitations be it in your personal or professional life. Learning to ask empowering questions can pull you through tough times, conflicts, obstacles and can help you find your purpose and passion. When you are faced with any kind of problem, framing it into a question lets you organise your thoughts around the problem and come up with possible solutions or helps you to explore new opportunities. Also, when you ask quality questions to others, you are more likely to get responses that have valuable information which help you grow personally or professionally.
How empowering questions work?
⁃ Phrasing questions constructively can help shift perspective and influence how you view yourself, others, events and circumstances. A resourceful, optimistic and solution-focused question will expand your perspective on how to present yourself with alternatives or opportunities which you would have otherwise not considered.
⁃ Most of us have an unconscious habit of asking habitual questions that focus on unwanted objects, people, circumstances or events which make our minds dwell on the things they ask about. Such questions intrinsically influence our emotions negatively and put you in negative frame of mind leading us to stress, anxiety, worry, fear and anger. Whereas quality questions allow you to expand on the possibilities of positive state of mind that create curiosity, intrigue, enthusiasm, passion and on solutions.
⁃ By dwelling on certain questions, you tend to delete anything within the external environment that is not consistent with the answers you seek. When you focus on aggravating a problem, it is very much likely that you will be completely blinded to the solutions that are seemingly within your reach. You tend to delete everything that does not correspond to your habitual unhelpful questions. Insightful questions help you shift your focus from expanding the problem to finding its possible solution. Often asking as to why is this a problem? or using ‘What if’ or ‘how might’ changes what we consciously delete and enables to explore the solutions in new perspectives.
⁃ Unhelpful questions like ‘Why it is always me?’’Why can’t I make this work?’ ‘Why am I not seeing the results yet?’’Why does this always happen?’ deplete your emotional strength you need to move through obstacles and challenges. Instead, asking empowering questions like ‘How can I get better at what I do?’’What else can I be doing to improve myself?’ ‘How do I increase my opportunities?’ can help you in overcoming the obstacles and you no longer tend to focus on things that make you feel overwhelmed and overloaded.
⁃ Quality questions help you to find your passion and purpose. Self-questioning makes sure you are pursuing the opportunities that are best for you. In your goal-seeking, it is important to ask helpful questions to adopt to changing things around you. They encourage and direct you to acquire new skills and fresh approaches. Self-questioning helps in adopting to change and opens up opportunities or possibilities to inquire, learn and improve yourself.
Power questions you can ask yourself ?
Where you are in your life at this very moment is very much a direct reflection of the questions you habitually or unconsciously asked yourself over time. If you are not happy or contented with one or more areas of life, it is time to identify your habitual unconscious or unhelpful questions and ask different set of questions that not only empower you in your personal life but also improve your ability and potential to achieve your goals professionally. Here are some power questions you can ask yourself to improve your personal productivity.
Am I focusing on my passions?
If you are not passionate enough in what you do, you won’t be motivated to overcome the obstacles that puts you in the way of success. Even if you had started on something passionate, your passion can fade over time. So, it is important to check on your motivation. If you feel like your passion is waning, you need to change to sustain yourself emotionally to clear your mind.
Asking ‘What inspires me the most?’ ‘What am I best at?’ ‘What do I love and desire?’ ‘What activities allow me to be creative?’ ‘What is my definition of success?’ ‘What are my true passions?’ ‘What accomplishments am I proud of?’ ‘What drives me to be my best self?’ can help you in pursuing your passions for long-term.
Am I learning from my mistakes?
The answers we receive depend upon the questions we are willing to ask. We all come across some failures and make mistakes on our journey of self-growth and goal-striving as no body is perfect. However, it is important to learn from them so that you don’t repeat. When you face a setback or an obstacle, and if you value learning, you might be willing to answer your own questions of, ‘what can I learn from this situation?’ ‘How can I learn from this problem so that this never happens again?’’How can we improve this?’ ‘How can I use this situation constructively?’ In doing so, you will change your focus, your state and the results you’re getting.
Am I overcoming my limitations?
Our core beliefs have the affect in what we consider possible or impossible and also thus affect the questions we will even consider asking ourselves. Many of us would never have asked the question. ‘How can I turn this around?’ simply because of our limiting beliefs. Be careful not to ask limited questions, or you will receive limited answers. The only thing that limits your question is your belief about what’s possible. Our beliefs affect the questions we will even consider to ask ourselves. Ask questions that ‘What are my limiting patterns? Where will my limiting patterns lead me in long run? How will this change my life if I don’t come out of my comfort zone? Such questions can give you leverage to push yourself beyond your limitations, help you set new goals and aid in coming out of your comfort zone.
How can I use this situation ?
Remember that it’s not only the questions you ask. but the questions you fail to ask, that shape your life. Sometimes, when you face difficult circumstances or when you have to take a critical decision, you have to ask yourself ‘what’s great about this’ and ‘How can I use this?’ This not only opens up new perspectives but also gives you access to resources and strategies you might not otherwise realise you have available. Practice asking some downside questions to make you better prepared to handle worst-case scenarios like ‘what if it doesn’t work?’ or what must I do to handle the negative outcome? Develop new routines and processes that allow you to handle such difficult scenarios.
Am I focusing on my priorities?
As human beings, consciously, we are limited in the number of things we can focus on simultaneously. Whereas unconsciously our mind is used to do all sort of things. Prioritising on what to pay attention to and what not to pay attention helps in focusing on important things that you have committed yourself to in your personal and professional life. Ask yourself self-empowering questions like, ‘What are my priorities?’ ‘How do I go about prioritising?’ ‘What are the important areas that i need to focus on right now?’ ‘What am I really committed to?’
Am I self-sabotaging?
The specific words we select and the very order of the words we use in our questions (presuppositions)can cause us to suppose or assume beforehand or take for granted in advance and not even consider certain things. Presuppositions makes you accept things that may or may not be true. For instance, if you ask yourself “why do I always sabotage myself?” after something ends disappointingly – you set yourself up for more of the same in future. Disempowering questions tend to wrap you in cycle of excuses, blame and problems. Questions like ‘How can I stop self-sabotaging?’ ‘How can I make or do this better?’ ‘What can I do in order not to self-sabotaging myself?’ can help you overcoming some of your self-fulfilling or disempowering presuppositions. Do not accept others’ or your own disempowering presuppositions.
Am I communicating authentically with others?
Curiosity is the innate desire to learn more about yourself and to understand others. Striving to know why something is done or the way it is and how helps you challenge ideas and explore the unknown. Asking others questions about them through authentic conversations leads to gaining a correct understanding of them. When you demonstrate authentic intent about them, they open up about the experiences that helped shaping them. Asking them what they care about the most or what their passions and interests can improve the interpersonal communication and results in better relations.
Am I focused on solution-seeking?
When you come up against problems, asking problem-solving questions gives you access to solutions. ‘What is great about this problem?’ ‘What is not perfect yet?’ ‘What can I do to seek a solution?’ ‘What am I willing to do in order to solve the problem?’ ‘What values guide my decision?’ ‘What is the best solution I haven’t considered yet?’ ‘What is the opportunity in this situation which I am missing?’ ‘How can I successfully overcome this problem?’ By asking yourself solution-seeking questions, you can deal with problems that will constantly change your focus from exacerbating the problem to seeking its solution.
The patterns of questions you constantly ask will create either depression or enjoyment, indignation or inspiration, misery or happiness. Ask the questions that will uplift you to your full potential.
So, are you asking the right questions to yourself? Think of the questions you habitually ask yourself in the area of your work, finances, relationships, your abilities, or passions. Are they self-empowering? Are your questions focused on your priorities and passions? Are they solution-seeking? Are your questions limited in anyway?
Q) What useful questions, about yourself (and life in general) could you start asking today?
Q)What problem have you solved recently due to asking good questions of yourself or others?
Q)Which empowering questions you can build that will help you in the process of achieving your cherished goals?
Q)What are the most useful questions you can ask that can create more opportunities or unlock new insights, ideas and solutions
Q)What questions you must ask yourself to reach your highest potential or to overcome your self-defeating habits?
To change your life for the better, you must change your habitual questions and to do so requires practice. Harness the power of asking questions by practicing the above mentioned strategies to empower yourself and to make things work or better in your endeavours. With conscious effort you can begin to identify your habitual unhelpful questions and can develop a habit of asking quality questions that challenge your assumptions or status-quo thinking. Decide what’s most important to you and use power of questions to begin to take action to change the quality of life.