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Some people are a testament to the power of will, including Hall of Famers, rags-to-riches stories, and rising stars who learned to overcome impossible odds on their way up. Meanwhile, the rest of us struggle with mundane challenges, like losing that last 10 pounds or fitting exercise into a busy schedule. What is the key to ditching struggle and moving towards success? It all comes down to the questions we ask ourselves.
A big difference between those who thrive and those who struggle has to do with inner dialogue. One of the greatest lessons I learned from a life coach is that massive change comes when let go of the automatic stories we tell ourselves and start asking powerful questions.
The Statement Trap
It can feel natural to turn statements inward, where they run our mental software in repeating loops. Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels is famous for saying, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” We do learn mostly through repetition, so we must choose consciously which mental tapes to run, and which to re-record. How fully we break free from this hamster wheel depends upon our ability to interrupt automatic thoughts and craft empowering, engaging questions instead.
The Value Of Asking Questions
While statements are static assertions (usually based on limited data), questions are invitations to explore uncharted territory free from old assumptions. Questions challenge us; they're like a scavenger hunt for new ways to have fun. We become more engaged in active inquiry, as if we're playing a game.
Open questions act like computer programs that run in the background while you do other things. Like any mental software, your questions will come back to you throughout the day, weaving themselves into the fabric of your consciousness. In time and with practice, a much higher form of autopilot kicks in, optimizing our mental operating system.
Our greatest challenge in life is learning to get out of our own way. Only then are we effortlessly motivated, driven by our intuition, and acting in our own best interest. Next time you find yourself wanting something “impossible” or “too good to be true,” try creating your own Power Questions using the guidelines below.
How To Ask Powerful Questions
How do you want to feel? We often choose a goal because of how we imagine it will make us feel. For example, you may imagine that having lots of money would make you feel more relaxed and worry-free. If you start with the desired feeling rather than a material goal, your discoveries might surprise you. As you explore the question, “What would it take to make me feel more relaxed and worry-free?” you may realize what you really seek is a balanced life—not a hectic schedule that gives you lots of money but no energy or time to enjoy it!
Relax, so you can receive. Most of us were taught that if we want something we have to go out and get it. This results in a tendency to “grab” at what we want, rather than letting it come to us. Remember, grabbing results in a closed fist. Put your greatest wishes out there, then let go of the outcome, allowing it to happen naturally. Take a break from forcing the situation and go do something fun or relaxing. Try yoga, meditation, get a massage, take a nap or a pretty walk outside, or go for a picnic with someone who makes you laugh. Give yourself a “thought vacation” while your question simmers on the back burner.
This or something better. Fantasies of how much better things would be if we had that thing we want are part of the human condition. In reality, what’s best for you may be something you’re not even aware of. Zoom out to see the bigger picture from the perspective of the vast universe that holds our tiny planet. Given the limits of human perception in the grand scheme of things, always remember to ask for this—or something better—to let go of attachments and assumptions of what’s best for you.