Have you ever noticed the number of questions that children ask?
The sky is blue. Why? I have blond hair. Why? That's how I dress. Why? I like chocolate. Why? Growing up many people lose that genuine curiosity that characterized us when we were little. Now we are so busy living that we devote very little time to asking. As if doing was more important than being and reflecting.
Asking questions instead is fundamental not only to know ourselves but also to face all the challenges that life may throw at us. Above all, knowing how to ask the right questions plays a vital role.
When we start to get interested into personal growth, we usually spend a lot of time looking for answers. But what kind of questions do we ask ourselves?
Often when something negative happens to us, the first thing that comes to mind is: why me? This kind of question triggers a mechanism that activates lots of negativity, and induces thoughts like “as soon as I try to do something important, I always fail, I get it all wrong today" and so on. This is the start of the so-called Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
The self-fulfilling prophecy is a concept that stems from W.I. Thomas' theorem: "If a man defines certain situations as real, they will become real in their consequences". That is a prediction that comes true just because it has been expressed.
The precise moment in which we start focusing on our worst fears, we trigger a series of unconscious behaviors that will most probably get us precisely the opposite of the desired result, causing the events that we would have liked to avert.
Self-fulfilling prophecies happen much more often than we think. This is because it is through our minds and thoughts that we determine who we will be and how we will behave in the future.
Have you ever thought: “What else can go wrong today?". Well, this is an excellent example of how to start it all up.
One important thing to keep in mind is that the prophecy also works in reverse. That doesn't mean that if we think intensely at Prince Charming, he will appear at our front yard, of course. But if we use the right mental reasoning, we'll start a mechanism that will most likely result in positive outcome.
So how do we understand which are the right questions to ask ourselves? Here are a couple of tips&tricks on how to drive positivity in our direction:
1. Remember what you are capable of
We all have something we're good at or do particularly well. How many times have we said: "I'll never make it" or "I can't do it, I'm not good enough? Well, to get started we just need to make a list of only five challenges that we have faced and solved. This simple exercise will help you to be aware of the skills you already have at your disposal.
2. Change the question
Instead of asking: "Will this situation ever improve?" Try to ask yourself: "How can I improve this situation?” This kind of question will set your mind in a totally different (and more positive) direction!
3. Make as many mistakes as you can
But what's the point? I want to try to avoid mistakes, not run towards them! Actually, making mistakes help us learn much faster than doing the right thing at first sight. Error often provokes a strong emotional reaction. And if because of an error we feel disappointment/embarrassment/anger, we just need to remember that it is precisely thanks to this memory that will not repeat the same mistake twice.
4. Free yourself from the judgment of others
As I write in my book A Whole New Life, when we don't feel confident about ourselves, we are constantly under a magnifying glass, continuously judged. But it is impossible to please everyone and, above all, it is not necessary. If some criticism is directed at us, we just need to learn to distinguish the constructive feedback from the destructive one and consider it a stimulus to grow.
5. Help others
Another way to practice asking the right questions is to teach others how to do it. Some say that teaching is the most effective form of learning, so why not try it? Not to mention the fact that by helping others we feed that domino effect of positivity that makes the world a better place.
What are the most useful questions you have been asking yourself so far?