Questions to Set You Free
I love the way something as simple as a question can challenge our thinking, bring clarity and open up new possibilities. Thinking in habitual ways keeps us stuck and powerless. Great questions have the power to shake up our thinking as well as shifting the way we feel.
Question 1: What is good about this situation?
When you are facing a problem, this is a great one to ask. If there has been trauma, you might need to wait until the dust has settled. Our minds tend to want to go straight from exploring negative impact and consequences to solving the issue and this keeps us from seeing the range of options available. In recognising the benefits of the situation, we can change our feeling about it from fear to gratitude. We can begin to see how and why we might have created this problem which leads us to take responsibility, a key step in resolving it.
Question 2: What is the worst that can happen/what am I afraid of?
One of the reasons our minds are eager to get problems solved is to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Our fears often lurk about in the background impacting our decisions and causing us stress. When we are able to recognise and name our fears, they lose power over us. In the light of day, some even seem ridiculous. We can decide if there are practical steps we can take to address them and plan how we take care of ourselves as we move ahead anyway.
Question 3: What if I do this? (And the related ‘what if I don’t do this?’)
With this question we have the ability to integrate our thinking and our emotions. This question encourages us not only to list the fors and againsts but also to try on this option in our mind’s eye. This involves imagining ourselves carrying out this option, the immediate feelings and the ones a day or week (or longer depending on the option). This can work for questions related to our wellbeing ‘What if I eat this chocolate cake now?’ For me the immediate feeling is good but this changes within minutes as my body protests and I regret the impact on my skin.
Question 4: What do I really want?
As we get bogged down in the details of day to day living and trying to fix things, we can forget our direction and numb out our feelings. Maybe there a longer term solution, possibly with more investment, that would be better for us (and perhaps more economical in the longer term). We might have strayed into doing something we think will please another or cut corners so we are no longer acting in integrity. This question enables us to stop trying to figure out what’s gone wrong and focus on following our heart’s desire
Question 5: How can I play to my strengths and passions?
We all have things we do really well and they have the potential to make the most impact within the communities in which we work and play. Engaging with our passions is key to finding our life purpose and, even if we have a simple task or routine work, the more we can bring of ourselves, the more satisfying we will find it. So know your passions and get stuck in!
When we feel pressured by time and the need to get things done or limited by other’s expectations, we might not consider the opportunity for self-expression. We are conditioned not to invest energy when it’s not expected, feeling that it won’t be valued and appreciated. Whether or not it is appreciated and valued by others, is really not the point, this is more about how we feel about the task, its impact on us and those we interact with.
These questions have served me and my clients well and I hope they help you too. I look forward to hearing how you get on in the comments section below and perhaps you have other favourite questions to share?
For the month of February 2015, I am offering people who sign up to my email group a free coaching session where you bring a question you’ve yet to resolve about your life and I use questions like those above in a short focused coaching conversation to move you forward. There’s more information at www.deborahreeds.com/qcoach