Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Ask Better Questions
As children, asking why is central to our learning and growth. We ask why out of curiosity. Why is the sky blue? Why do trees lose their leaves? Why do people have eyebrows? Why does Mom make me take cod liver oil in winter?
As adults, however, I have noticed our whys stem not from curiosity but from victimhood. Why didn't I get the job? Why don't I have more money? Why did my partner leave? Why did I get sick? Why can't I succeed?
Those questions do seem exhausting and lead towards fault-finding.
I have been practicing asking better questions. In fact, it is a major theme of this year for me. When a why question pops up I rephrase it into a better one.
Why is my back acting up today? becomes How can I relieve this discomfort? or What does my body need today?
Why is there not enough time for everything I want to do? becomes How can I find the time I need for...
Why is my friend so unhappy? becomes What can I do to support my friend?
Why can't I get my head around this project? becomes Who can help me put this together?
Unless my inner child pipes up with a juicy why question stemming from pure, curious thirst, I shift my questions into How, What can I do, Where can I, Who can help me with...
This line of questioning takes me from fault-finding, which gets me nowhere, to finding solutions and empowered practices that lead me where I want to go.
Inner child or inner victim? Where are your questions coming from? How can you start asking better questions of yourself? Put yourself back in the driver's seat. It is what it is, now what can you do about it? Don't strain over achieving an answer, simply set out to ask a better question. Give the answer room to breathe. It may present itself in surprising ways.
The answer may not always be a doing but a being. Sometimes, simple awareness of your why question, your fault-finding victim question, and an intention to rephrase it - reposition your stand on it, re-empower yourself about it - releases the why me and clears the way for new perspectives and possibilities.
Is there something you want? Stop asking why you don't have it and start asking how you can cultivate it.
Now, how can you share this information with others so they, too, can start asking better questions?