I will let you in on a little secret: I talk to myself in the car. Most people probably think I’m talking on the phone. I talk to myself while working and doing things around the house as well. Sometimes I speak out loud. Other times the dialogue is all internal. Lest you think I am like an eccentric woman on the edge of sanity, I feel pretty certain you talk to yourself as well.
Sometimes I am acutely aware of the conversations I am having with myself. Other times I am engaged in a conversation and I didn’t even know it.
What I have found most fascinating about the conversations I have with myself are the questions I am asking. My questions reveal my mindset and set me on a path that ultimately leads me to my outcomes.
Questions are quite revealing. One of the questions I have been asking myself lately has been “How will I do such and such if my breathing doesn’t improve?” I battle asthma. It is not fun. It affects just about every area of my life. My question gives away that I have doubts about the promises God has given me that He will see me through this health adventure.
When I change my question to “What will God do to improve my breathing?” or “How will God help me do such and such today?” my focus shifts and my heart looks expectantly for God at work in my health.
Both in your personal life and as a leader, you are continually asking questions. Those questions have a powerful impact on your mindset and the choices you will make. In the end, the questions you ask will determine the results you get.
Here are some examples of questions I have heard recently:
What if I fail?
What if things never change?
What if I make a mistake?
Why is she so stupid?
Who will take me seriously?
Slow down. Think back. What questions have you been asking yourself? This might take some time to pinpoint. Be brutally honest with yourself. Have your questions been leading you to negative results?
Using the above examples and switching the question “What if I fail?” to “What if I succeed?” might be just as frightening to some. Instead, ask the question “What can I learn through this experience?” After all, there is always something to be learned, and learning is positive.
Revising your questions is more than just making them into positive ones. They should reflect curiosity, and encourage growth. Remember, your question will determine your results. Here are some suggestions on how to change the questions above:
“What if things never change?” changes to “What would I like to change?“
“What if I make a mistake?” changes to “What can I learn from my mistakes?”
“Why is she so stupid?” changes to “What is she thinking, feeling, experiencing, needing, or wanting right now?”
“Who will take me seriously?” changes to “What steps can I take to be more credible?”
“Why bother?” changes to “What’s the best thing I can do now?”
You have a choice. You can ask negative and critical questions that take you off track, or you can ask more thoughtful questions that open up possibilities and solutions, and take you to a more desirable place.
Your natural bent and automatic response might be to ask negative and critical questions. With increased awareness of your inner dialogue, these questions can be revised into questions that will set you on a path to improve and grow.
It will take effort to develop a new way of asking yourself questions, and that effort will be handsomely rewarded. Here are 10 reasons to do the work:
The path to victory begins when your line of questioning is positive and centered around learning and growing. Critical questioning will never lead to victory, success, or your happiness.
2. Enhanced Mood
Positive questions give you hope and insight to action, and open you up to the possibilities; which in turn is a big boost to your mood.
3. Fun to be Around
Let’s face it. We avoid negative people and we are drawn to positive people.
4. Less Stress
Fretting about the future of my breathing and how I will do this or that down the road is a prescription for anxiety and stress! I want to avoid stress at every turn! Asking questions that are positive and the encourage learning and growing are inspiring.
When you are curious and ask powerful positive questions, it leads to new discoveries that propel you forward. When you get into the habit of asking critical questions it is discouraging and cause you to get stuck.
Good communication is 20% telling and 80% asking. Learning to ask better questions when you talk to yourself will help you ask better questions when talking to others.
If your own inner dialogue is inhibiting your forward movement, chances are the way you interact with those you lead isn’t working either. Develop a habit of being curious and challenging your assumptions. Having a leader’s heart that desires growth and learning in those you lead will make a significant difference.
It takes time, work, and commitment to increase your awareness around the questions you are asking yourself. It is a process. Notice the questions you are asking yourself when you make decisions throughout the day. Pay attention to the first thought that pops into your head when circumstances present themselves.
How you talk to yourself will be reflected in how you talk to others. Your questions will affect your work and your relationships. Great questions lead to great results!
What questions have you been asking yourself? How can you positively revise those questions?