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November 05, 2012

The Art of Asking Empowering Questions

 

One of the major differences between people and their quality of life is the questions that they consistently ask themselves. Questions have the ability to change our focus in an instant. Asking the right questions can change our mindset from a limiting one to an empowering one in a moment. 

 

We are all in the habit of asking ourselves questions every day, most of the time we’re not even aware of their effect.  Questions provide the mind with incentive, direction and focus. As soon as we ask a question, our mind immediately begins searching for an answer. If we don’t like the answers that we are getting, it probably has a lot to do with the questions we are asking.

Questions have a dramatic effect on everything we do in life. They determine our abilities, the quality of our relationships and even our income. By asking the right questions we can empower ourselves to change any aspect of our life.

So, what are the right questions?  They are the questions that cause us to focus on possibilities and solutions (empowering) rather than our perceived limits (disabling).  Whatever we focus on the most will eventually become our reality. By training ourselves to consciously ask empowering questions, regardless of our circumstances, we will direct our minds to continually focus on new possibilities and solutions.

This sounds simple right?  The challenge is that most of us are on auto-pilot. Most of the time we fail to take conscious control of the questions we ask ourselves. We are in the routine of asking many of the same disempowering questions every day and getting the same answers.  

Think about these questions.  “Why do I have to go to work today?”  How is that going to affect your attitude?  “Why do I feel so tired and run down?”  How is that going to affect your energy levels?   With those two simple questions you have set yourself up for a disappointing day. Why? Because now your mind is focused on finding reasons why you’re tired and have to do something you don’t want to do like go to work.  A better question might be “What do I have to look forward to today?” Or “What am I most grateful for right now?”  Even if you don’t have the immediate answers to those questions, your mind will focus on finding the answers. Ask yourself those questions a few times and notice how the answers make you feel. All of a sudden you have something to look forward to and something to be      grateful for. How will that kind of mindset affect your day?

If someone is rude to you many times we may say to ourselves “Why don’t they like me?” when a better question could be “I wonder what I can do to help them feel better?” As your mind searches for the answers to that question you’re going to be focused on positive things, because you’re looking for a way to help someone else.  As you can plainly see, asking the right questions can produce very positive results.

When we focus on empowering thoughts it becomes literally impossible to focus on limiting thoughts at the same time.  We cannot intensely focus our attention in two opposing directions simultaneously. Being truly focused involves more than just our mental acuity. It involves our emotions as well.  When we ask the right questions we are commanding our mind to give us answers that will support a positive mindset and move us toward affirmative action and motivation.

When problems arise in life, as they will, what questions might we ask ourselves to motivate us toward possibility and solution?

  1. How does this problem or challenge create a new opportunity? At first you may not see opportunity, so keep asking. This question is powerful because it is structured around the assumption that the problem has created an opportunity, now you just need to discover that opportunity. Your mind will recognize that assumption as fact and before long it will present you with a list of possible opportunities.
  2. What action must I take to transform this situation? Notice the assumption built in to this question. There is a course of action that will transform this situation in a positive way. Now, all you need to do is to figure out what that action is and your mind will be eager to assist you.
  3. What aspect of this challenge is exciting? Again the assumption, there is something here to get excited about. We just asked our mind to figure out what that is, and it will.
  4. To fully benefit from the power of questions we need to develop the habit of intentionally using questions to direct our focus and control our mindset in a constructive manner.

First thing in the morning

Every morning when we wake up it is a natural part of our thinking process to ask ourselves questions about the day, so this is a perfect time to practice. Asking the right questions first thing in the morning will help ensure that our focus is pointed in a productive and empowering direction all day long.

So here’s a list of possible questions that you can start asking yourself every morning beginning tomorrow. These questions are specifically designed to have a positive effect on your levels of joy, commitment and self-esteem.

  1. What is there about my life that makes me feel happy/excited right now?
  2. What can I really look forward to today?
  3. What can I do today to improve my energy/health?
  4. What can I feel truly grateful for right now? 

There is probably no other question that will change your attitude as quickly or dramatically. It doesn’t matter what situation or circumstances you find yourself in, you always have something to be grateful for. Being aware of, and focusing on, your blessings regularly will profoundly alter your perception of reality.

The more you focus on gratitude the more reasons you will find to appreciate your life. As a result, the happier and more content you will be. It’s been said that the happiest people are not the ones who have the best of everything; rather they are the ones who are grateful for everything they have. How many other simple solutions do you know that can make such a claim?

Do it every day for at least ten days!

By developing a routine of asking yourself questions like these every morning, you will begin to create a pattern. After a while, not only will the questions come automatically, but so will an increased level of appreciation for the answers. The answers to these questions are an important part of what makes life worth living.  Remember, the whole purpose of this exercise is to take conscious control of what we allow our minds to focus on and to trigger our minds to think in positive directions not to over scrutinize our every thought. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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My teenage daughter has a connective tissue disorder which causes joint hypermobility

Jen Whetstone Maryland

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