We ask questions to make sense of the world, other people and what’s happening around us. It’s the primary way we learn anything, particularly as children who question everything about everything. Over time, once we’ve built up a belief system of ‘how things are’, we stop asking new questions. Here’s why asking better questions can change your life.
These beliefs are a product of our thinking, of the way the brain evaluates and creates meaning of the events that take place in life. It’s not the events that happen that shape life but the value and meaning we give the events that makes the difference. The meaning we assign to events depends on the beliefs we’ve included in our belief system. It comes full circle. Our beliefs determine our actions, decisions, direction and ultimately, destiny.
When you boil it down, thinking is nothing more than the process of asking and answering questions. If someone says something and you think, ‘Oh no, I wouldn’t like that’, whether consciously or subconsciously, you’ve asked yourself ‘what do I think about that?’
In the same way we create our individual belief system, we each develop a set of habitual questions over time that we unconsciously ask ourselves in response to events that take place. When something unfortunate happens, are you more inclined to think, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ or ‘What can I learn from this situation?’ The first question emphasises feelings of lack, inevitability, and misfortune whereas the second focuses on optimism, learning and growth.
Changing our habitual questions can change the quality of our lives because by asking different questions we get a different answer. Questioning our limitations shakes up the foundation on which we’ve built them and creates new empowering thoughts. Asking better questions will help you find better answers that empower you to know what to do in any situation to produce the results you’re looking for.
The quickest way to change focus is by asking a new question. Next time you’re faced with a challenge or need to find a solution, try and remain aware of your immediate reaction and then switch it to something that helps you find a way forward, ‘How can I make the best of where I am right now?’
Here are tips to ask yourself better questions
Use the power of presupposition. Presupposition programmes us to accept things that may or may not be true. A question such as, ‘Why can’t I lose weight?’ assumes that it’s true and tricks the brain to showing evidence that supports the belief. Instead, ask ‘How can I make losing weight enjoyable?’ to focus on the idea that losing weight is not only possible for you but doesn’t have to be restrictive or difficult to do.
Develop a pattern of consistent questions that empower you. It’s important to recognise and break the pattern that automatically has you asking disempowering questions. To change your state ask yourself some problem-solving questions,
- What is great about this problem? The immediate answer will probably be ‘nothing’ but think about it for a minute and you’ll get a response that helps you reframe it
- What is not perfect yet? The ‘yet’ implies it will be resolved eventually, helping you find the solutions and reassurance.
- What am I willing to do to make it the way I want? This question empowers you and helps you to take control by changing your own behaviour in response.
- What am I no longer willing to do in order to make it the way I want? Think about what you need to stop doing (complain or rerun the situation in your mind) in order to improve your experience of the situation.
- How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want? You need to resolve the situation anyway, you might as well find a way to make things fun!
Morning power questions
It can be hard to snap yourself out of this way of thinking in the moment. If you want to get ahead of yourself at the beginning of the day, Tony Robbins identified the following list of ‘morning power questions’.
If you find them difficult to answer at first, add ‘could’ to the question. ‘What could I be most happy about in my life right now?’ And if you’re like me and the thought of answering all of them every day makes you want to get back into bed, just focus on answering one properly each day and see how you get on.
What am I happy about in my life right now? What about that makes me happy? How does that make me feel?
What am I excited about in my life right now? What about that makes me excited? How does that make me feel?
What am I proud about in my life right now? What about that makes me proud? How does that make me feel?
What am I grateful about in my life right now? What about that makes me grateful? How does that make me feel?
What am I enjoying most in my life right now? What about that makes it enjoyable? How does that make me feel?
What am I committed to in my life right now? What about that makes me committed? How does that make me feel?
Who do I love? Who loves me? What about that makes me loving? How does that make me feel?