Thinking with Questions

Thinking with Questions

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Out of many, one lesson that stayed with me after I completed my NLP practitioner program was that of being aware of the narrative I had running in my head all day. The story we tell ourselves!

You may have noticed we keep speaking and listening to ourselves endlessly the entire day. In simple terms, we say, I think a lot. Thinking is good. They say you become what you think about. So isn’t that a reason good enough to keep a check on our thoughts?

 In fact, my thoughts are like motion pictures.  Considering the number of scenes that I enact in my mind I can almost see a movie credit at the end of every day that says written, directed and produced by me. And,just by observing these conversations I have discovered a lot about me.

 I began using this awareness often as I wanted to understand more about how I talk to myself. I used to consciously try to replace my pessimistic, unhelpful thoughts but the old narrative used to sneak in. A couple of years back, I had the thought of putting together some of the A-ha moments and my personal insights through a Blog. The idea was to share a perspective. I was excited about writing and wrote my first blog pretty quickly. As I kept reading through it while editing, I became aware of how I was having a conversation with that writer in me.

Here it goes;

{“Why would anyone want to read this? Yeah, why would anyone? No one I think. Maybe a few of my friends will. They will certainly laugh at me and probably say good things just to make me feel good. There are so many experts; knowledgeable people who write so well, people will read them, not me.   “Is your writing good enough to publish ?: No, I really don’t think it is. I am bad at this; my English language skills are so ordinary.  I think I sound like a preacher when I write. Who wants to read that? “Do you even know how to write? I don’t think I also know what to write! People will definitely find it silly. Maybe I could put it on the website as a free download, so not many people read it. That way I could save myself from more embarrassment.}

Of course, thanks to my mentor I went ahead and played out entirely. But that was the time I realised, that my narrative was hugely based on the questions I was asking myself. Till then I was trying to change my thinking, but never thought of changing the Questions!

“The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.” 
― Peter Drucker

One may say, what was wrong with these questions. There was nothing wrong, but did these questions lead me in a useful direction? Did they help me evolve? My answer is NO. Considering that I wanted to grow my capabilities and achieve something by pushing my boundaries, these were not exactly helping me. In fact, they were giving me millions of reasons to not take any action and underplay my potential.

What if I had asked myself: What is my intention in writing?  Whom would I like to write for? Why is it important to me? What is stopping me? What strengths do I have? What skills could I develop?  The answers to these questions would have paced me to possibilities such that I could have looked into each and then decided. I might have decided not to write also or instead make videos or do something else. But I would not have retracted in a shell or played low. It would have definitely upped my game. That’s the power of questions!

Take a moment once in a while and observe the questions you ask yourself every day. Change your questions in a way that they lead you to be more objective. Change your questions to help you expand your possibilities. Change your questions to help you push your limits and play out fully.


The first step is awareness. When you are feeling stuck, or down, or are in a dilemma, become aware of what you are saying to yourself.

Ask yourself, what questions am I responding to?

Modify them based on your intention. E.g., I want my daughter to listen to something I wish to say. I am aware that this is something she probably does not want to discuss and may show disinterest as I have tried it once.

So I keep asking myself “What do I do? Or What am I going to do?”

Instead, now I change it to

“What will help her listen to what I want to say? Or What is making her not want to listen? Or What could I do differently? Or How do I be different with her? Or Why is it important to me that she listens?

Today my internal movie is still written, produced and directed by me (Lead actor as well!) but the movie maker has transformed, and so have her movies.



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