Ever noticed how busy the mind is?
Ever wish it would just shut up?
If yours is anything like mine has been, it can be as busy as New York City’s Grand Central Station.
One lazy afternoon, a decade or so ago, I laid down for a nap. Just as I was drifting off to sleep something happened that has stuck with me. It was very cool and fascinating at the same time. I didn’t try to make it happen. I hadn’t longed for it to happen. It just happened on it’s own accord.
In an instant myself and my mind were suddenly and mysteriously separated from each other. Instead of being the mind, as I normally was, I was an outsider watching the contents of my mind on a movie screen.
No big deal, right? That’s what meditation is supposed to achieve. It’s completely normal. But, something about this was different than what I had experienced during meditation before. I saw something fascinating.
Just what did I see?
Let me start with, what I did NOT see.
I did not see a circus of thoughts, as I had been taught in my mediation studies.
What I saw was more than just a parade of thoughts. I saw an entire circus of QUESTIONS parading through my mind.
They were rapid and non-stop. The mind was on automatic. It was spewing out questions like a geyser. There were so many that it’s impossible to recall them all.
It. Was. Fascinating!
I cannot tell you just how absolutely liberating it was to be free from my mind. For a brief few seconds I was no longer a hostage of my mind.
Some questions and thoughts that we have move through our head like a fast moving train passing through town.
Others stick and hang around like Velcro. They are the ones that can cause suffering, rob you of your peace of mind, lead you down the wrong path, or keep you stuck.
Those that stick create a lot of stress and suffering.
The brain attempts to find answers to all questions, no matter how erroneous and useless they might be. And, more importantly, questions set the context and limits of what’s being considered. A question can only be as broad as it’s implicit or explicit context. If the context is narrow, the answers will be too.
You’re probably very aware of the endless stream of thoughts going through your head, but have you ever noticed just how many of your thoughts are actually posed as questions?
For most of us, unless you’re some enlightened master who’s beyond the experience of incessant questions (because, to me, it appears their mind is literally quiet all the time), they arise in the mind from the moment we wake up in the morning until the time we fall asleep. And, worse yet, they can keep us from falling asleep.
Do you recognize any of these:
- What time is it?
- Should I get up now?
- Can I snooze for a bit longer?
- What should I eat for breakfast?
- How should I dress for work today?
- What’s the weather like today?
- Do I need a sweater?
- What time should I leave?
- How well did my day go?
- What do I need to get done tomorrow?
- Will my presentation tomorrow go alright?
The mind is a question generating machine. It pumps out never-ending questions like a conveyer belt.
Have you noticed that you rarely take any action without having asked your self a question first? If you haven’t, please take a closer look. You may be fascinated with what you discover.
High quality questions can lift your spirits or put you on a completely different trajectory, placing you on the path of your soul instead the ego.
You can easily pinpoint where questions are coming from because you’ll feel some type of distress (fear, anxiety, worry, constriction, etc.) with questions coming from the ego. It will be hard to get any clarity what-so-ever with fear-based questions.
However, high quality questions align you with your Soul.
These types of questions make you feel light.
You might feel hope when there was none there before.
You may see possibilities that you couldn’t just minutes before. Questions from your Soul come from a growth-mindset that’s open to possibilities instead of a limited mindset.
You may find yourself moving from I can’t or I don’t know how type of thinking into I can. If you don’t quite know how to do something yet, you’ll know the next step or feel about peace about not yet knowing.
Below are some questions not to ask, for they are disempowering and sometimes result in confusion, hopelessness and powerlessness:
- Why does this always happen to me?
- What can’t I lose weight (or get rich, etc.)?
- Why can’t I ever get what I want?
- Why can’t I ever get ahead?
- Is it ever going to be my turn?
Sound familiar? I’ve had them all! Believe me, those questions will never lead to a positive outcome or to any level of resourcefulness.
When I ask myself “Why this always happen to me?”, the answer is usually something like, “Because I’m not ______ (pretty, rich, smart, educated) enough”!
Notice that when you ask why you’re NOT something, the context is about asking why something’s missing or about what’s wrong with you. You’re brain will have to find a reason or short-coming as to why it’s NOT possible.
If you ask yourself why you can’t lost weight, the mind will say something like, you’re lazy or have no willpower, etc.!
When you ask those types of questions, it’s your ‘come-from’ that determines your out-come. Let me explain.
If I’m asking, “Why does this always happen to me?” and I’m sincerely looking for the patterns and beliefs in my life that are causing this thing to always happen, then that question might be useful to ask, although there are better questions to ask. When I’m asking myself why something is always happening to me, I’m usually NOT really looking for an answer that will turn my situation around because I’m coming from a victim mentality which implies that this is just the way things are and there’s nothing I can do about it.
If you find yourself asking yourself a “why can’t I …?” question, change it to a better question.
Better questions elicit answers that move your forward and help you create the change or outcome you desire.
Let’s take a look at some high quality questions.
These types of questions can help you produce results you intend to achieve.
Why does this always happen to me? becomes:
- What can I learn from this to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
What can’t I lose weight? becomes:
- What do I need to change, stop or modify to lose 10 pounds?
Why can’t I ever get what I want? becomes:
- How can I get what I want?”
- What would I have to believe about myself to get what I want?
- What actions do I need to take to get what I want?
- What behaviors do I need to change to get what I want?
Why can’t I ever get ahead? becomes:
- What habits or practices do I need to change to get ahead?
- Who do I need to consult with to get ahead?
- What resources (people, classes, books, etc.) do I need to get ahead?
Is it ever going to be my turn? becomes:
- What do I need to do differently to ensure that what I want comes true?
- Who do I need to become?
Why do people ask themselves limiting “Why” questions?
They think that understanding why will give them the change they want, but it’s just a mental exercise that keeps them focused on what’s-happening-now instead of where-you-want-to-go and how-to-get-there.
Most of us really don’t care about what the reason is as much as how to change it.
Should you catch yourself getting stuck on why questions, ask yourself. . . Do I want understanding, or RESULTS?
Take Martha as an example. If she desires to be a world-class speaker and things just aren’t happening for her, Martha probably needs to take a look at the types of questions she is asking herself and change them from “Why me?” and “Tell me what’s wrong with me…” types of questions into questions that have the power to generate positive possibilities.
Here is an example of the type of question Martha could ask herself to put her on the right path.
What might I need to BE in order to become a world-class speaker?
What if Martha needs to be confident in her speaking ability and in standing before a crowd, but she isn’t? She could ask herself, “What do I need to be, do or have in order to develop confidence?”.
Martha may need practice. Practice at home. Practice on small stages. Practice and watch her self on video. Maybe she needs to join Toastmasters.
Do you see how asking a different question can actually produce the information you need to create the outcome you intend? It’s all about creating a context that has you looking for how to get where you want to go instead of where you are.
Your Soul is longing to help you create and manifest the outcomes you desire.
Your Ego, based in limitation, can only see and come from limitation.
If you will combine a strong commitment to your outcome, and a willingness to make both the inner and outer changes required to have with you want with powerful insight-producing questions, your amazing soul will come to your aide, and so will the entire Universe.
Start paying attention. Say “Yes!” to the opportunities that come your way, because they will!
Was this topic of empowering questions useful?
Do you have some insight-producing questions that you use in your own life that we could benefit from knowing? Share them please!
Will you be more conscious about the questions you are asking yourself after today’s INSIGHT? (And did you notice the affirmative context of my question? 😉
Let me know below!