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How are you asking questions?
June 04, 2008

Wow, June already. Hard to believe but we're almost halfway through the year now. How are you doing with working towards your goals? Hopefully, it's going well. If you've let them slip a little, maybe take this time to get clear again on your goals or you may even want to adjust them slightly as your motivations and your reasons for doing things will change over time.

Part of being able to achieve your goals may also depend on how you ask yourself questions. You know that little voice in your head thatís always talking to you? If you pay attention, it's constantly asking you questions. Everything from "What do I want to eat?" to "Why is this happening to me?"

If you've had a chance to read my book, "3 Questions That Will Change Your Life", you already know that I have 3 questions that I use constantly to guide me through stressful times and also to keep me focused on where I want to go. But, in addition to knowing what specific questions to ask yourself, it's important to pay attention to how you ask the questions.

Understanding this concept I'm about to explain, can mean the difference between having the confidence to handle any situation you come across to feeling like it's all your fault and there's nothing you can do.

So, let's start with an example to work through. If something goes wrong, what do you usually say to yourself? Most likely, you want to know why it happened so you can avoid it happening again in the future. But, how you phrase this question to yourself will have some very interesting effects.

If you ask the question like this:

* Why isn't this working for me?
* Why am I so stupid?
* How could I have done that?
* I should have known better. Why didnít I see the signs?

Your brain will try to come up with an answer to that exact question. It's like your brain is a computer and you've now entered a command so it will keep whirring away until it finishes processing the query. But, if you take a closer look at these questions, you'll notice that they're phrased in such a way that you'll end up coming up with answers that blame yourself or tell you what you did wrong. So, for example, your brain will end up supplying you with reasons as to why you're so stupid which damages your self esteem unnecessarily. They may not even be valid reasons but your brain felt it had to come up with something to satisfy the question.

You'll probably also be re-running the event in your mind and seeing where you made a mistake. You'll be stuck in the past and unable to move forwards to find a real solution.

So, this time, let's try asking the question in a slightly different way. Maybe something like this:

* How can I make this work?
* What would be a better way to handle this situation in the future?
* What would be the best solution to this current problem?

It's a very small change but you've completely changed the focus of where your brain will start looking for answers. It won't be looking to see what you did wrong. Instead, it'll be looking for what you can do to either solve the problem or handle it more effectively in the future. It's much more action orientated instead of looking backwards and wishing you could change the past. There's also no blaming yourself for what went wrong. Instead, you're looking for solutions which are going to help you rather than hurt you.

Let's try one more example to make sure this makes sense.

Let's say you're trying to lose weight or trying to get yourself into an exercise routine and it's just not working. What would you ask yourself?

Are you thinking things like, "Why can't I lose weight?" and then start to think about the things you ate that you shouldn't have or how you should have gone to the gym but didn't.

Instead of punishing yourself, change the question to, "How can I lose weight?" or "How can I become more motivated to include exercise in my daily routine?"

Then, you'll start thinking of answers like:

* I could go for a walk at lunch.
* I could suggest to my friends we go for a hike on the weekend instead of going out to eat at a restaurant.
* I could use that exercise machine gathering dust in my storage room before I go to work in the morning.

Focusing on how many cookies you ate yesterday, doesn't get you any closer to your goal. A better answer would be to think, "I could empty my cupboards of all the cookies so I'm not tempted like I was yesterday". This way, you're learning from the past and you're taking action to move forwards. There's no more beating yourself up for something you did in the past. By doing this, you're going to instantly feel so much more positive and in control of your life.

So, the next time you run into an issue, pay attention to how you're asking yourself those internal questions. This is another one of these very subtle changes but it will make a huge difference to how you feel about yourself and how you solve any challenges you come across in your life.


What's New On Life With Confidence

So, you may have noticed that I've been very delinquent and haven't sent out a newsletter for awhile. I have a good excuse though. : - ) One of my goals this year was to finally finish a book I'd started on how to stop caring so much what others think about you. This is something that I know so very well from personal experience. Constantly seeking approval from people will drive you completely insane. You try so hard to please everybody and to do what everyone else wants, and you just sort of lose yourself and often end up not liking yourself very much. So, I'm thrilled to tell you that I have finally finished my book called, "How Do I Stop Caring What People Think Of Me?"

It's all about how to stop needing approval from others and getting back to believing in yourself so you can finally live your life the way you want to and also have the courage to follow your deepest, inner dreams without worrying about what others think.

"How Do I Stop Caring What People Think Of Me?"

New Articles

How To Deal With Feeling Guilty
Do you feel like you're always feeling guilty about something? Here are 7 reasons why that happens and how to deal with feeling guilty all the time.
How To Deal With Feeling Guilty

New Videos

"The Last Lecture, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" by Randy Pausch.
This is such an incredibly inspiring and motivating video. Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who's been told he has 3 to 6 months left to live as he has pancreatic cancer. Filmed in September 2007, he has some powerful messages for all of us. I love his comment about how obstacles aren't meant to defeat us, they're meant to show us how much we want the goal. Definitely worth watching.


New Discussions

There have been tons of new discussions started so I won't list them all here. There's been everything from how to deal with difficult grandmothers, abusive customers at work and friends who always cancel on you to why do we hold ourselves to a different standard than others. You can see all the latest at:
Latest Discussions

And be sure to join in and add your own thought or start a new topic yourself.


Well, I think that's it for this time.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to respond to this email or use my Contact Form. I'd be thrilled to hear from you.

Talk to you soon.


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Please be advised that the opinions expressed here are purely those of the author, Catherine Pratt. You read and act upon it at your own risk.

Life With Confidence
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