Jun 14, 2011

6 Power Questions to Ask Yourself

by Manal Khalife

Almost all of us have an area of our lives where we feel stuck. Where we are reluctant to make changes or move forward in a situation. Out of fear or discomfort or confusion. Whatever it is, whether it's switching careers or seeing a therapist, or even feeling stuck because of not having a car, the reason many people get stuck like this is because we ask ourselves the same questions over an over in a never ending loop. For the most part, we don't even ask questions, we just tell ourselves a phrase or statement over an over.

"I'm stuck at home all the time because I don't have a car."

"I can't do anything because I don't have a car."

"Why can't my husband get me a car?"

I'm using this example, because it was something I was stuck on for several years. Being a stay-at-home mom with no car was like torture to me. And it didn't help that I continually had these thoughts that did not help me make the best of my situation or move forward. Believe it or not, these were some of thoughts that kept me suffering from depression. This helplessness loop.

A couple of years back, I learned that you need to start asking better questions. Questions that would pull you out of that 'stuck' place, that would help you to see the situation from a different angle, and eventually get you out of the mental loop.

There are loads, but I do have my favourites. I find that it's best to ask yourself these "power questions" on paper or in a journal. If you ask them in your head, you risk having the old questions and statements interfering, and you'll end up either confused, or right back where you started.

Here are 6 power questions to ask yourself when you feel stuck:

1. How is this better for me?

Over the years, there has been a lot of attention on keeping a gratitude journal. Looking to what you are grateful for is always a good thing. And it's easy to do...when you're in a good mood and things are going your way! That doesn't always happen though. I find when I get in a pessimistic funk, especially when I haven't had enough food or sleep, it's harder to focus on what I'm grateful for. Asking myself "How is this better for me?", though, really helps me to separate the good from the not-so-good, and appreciate that there is goodness in this situation, even if it is not always the first thing I see.

This question gets you to see that despite your ideas about the situation, this is where you were meant to be at this point in time, so you might as well squeeze as many lessons, gratitude and blessings out of it as you can.

2. What's in my control?

This question was a turning point for me. It's so simple, and clear, but before I'd ever asked myself this question, everything in my life was someone else's fault. It was because of something someone else did or said. Or because of the weather and on and on. Blaming everything and everyone else, but never taking a good look at what I could do to change the situation.

When you ask yourself, "What's in my control?" your mind automatically searches for an answer. It starts to sift through the situation looking for things that you could change, however small that might be, and helps you to start making conscious choices in your life, rather than just letting things happen.

3. If nothing was stopping me, what would I do?

We all have certain dreams we've either left behind, or "forgotten", and often it's because of some resistance we have inside. I don't have enough money or that will never work for me, or I don't have the skills, etc. The real reason these dreams get 'lost' is because we feel the limitations are too great to overcome, so you put the dream aside and try to substitute it with something else.

The bad news: The dream never dies. It only intensifies. The good news: You can uncover and overcome the resistance and get the dream back.

Get yourself in a quiet space, and ask yourself, "If nothing was stopping me, what would I do?" and just write and write and pour your heart out onto paper. Some of it won't seem to make sense, but don't censor yourself, just continue to write until you 'get it'. This writing exercise is one I've gone back to over and over again over the past couple of years, and I always seem to see something I hadn't fully grasped before.

4. What is the ONE thing I can do today, that is the least amount of work, that will make the biggest difference? (80/20 rule)

This one is perfect for those days when you feel completely overwhelmed. What I like to do is write down everything on my mind, look it over, and choose which ones are the MOST important and will make the biggest difference, and then ask myself which one requires the least amount of effort. It's called the 80/20 rule. What will make 80% difference, using just 20% effort?

This will often help you get out of a stuck situation, by eliminating solutions which may have seemed obvious to you, but were too much effort involved, or solutions you hadn't even thought of yet. This one will really help you move forward.

5. What else could this mean?

This one is especially helpful in relationships. Often, we get hurt because of someone else's actions because we attach a certain meaning to it. She did xyz, because she doesn't care about me. Or if he loved me, he wouldn't leave his socks on the floor.

Yes, that might be one way to interpret the situation. But since you can't really know someone else's motives, you are only guessing. So, you might as well make it a good guess.

Brainstorm, and ask yourself, "What else could this mean?" A good rule of thumb, is that for every negative meaning you come up with, you have to come up with a positive one. This gives you a balanced view, and can cool your anger or hurt in a heated situation.

6. What would my 110-year old self advise me?

This one is awesome. It needs a little bit of quiet reflection, but it is well worth it. Once I discovered my 110-year old self, I feel like I want to visit again and again, and get some wisdom from her.

When I first did this exercise, I even got an answer to a question I'd been confused about for several years. Try it out, you will be surprised!

What did you learn about yourself with these 6 power questions?

About Manal: After beating her lifelong battle with depression, at age 28, Manal Khalife became a life coach and EFT practitioner. She now shows you how to live depression-free via her personal development blog.

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)


Asalaamu Alaikum

This is great but I wish you would have wrote the answers you got for these questions regarding your car problem. That would be a great motivator.

yes, even i was curious to know the solutions to the car problem!

I was going through the exact same problem with the car, asking the exact same questions and as a matter of fact, i too was in depression for that reason. The solution was that I answered the questions by repeated saying La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah, there is no might nor power except by the will of Allah, and everytime I would say it, I would feel a little better and believe me, I would be saying it so many times a day, which only means that I was complaining about the car situation and my helplessness to myself that many times. And I swear that changed my life. 
Today, I still dont have a car, but truly Allah eases difficulty, I now live in a place very close to metro, and other public transports, so it is easier for me to go places, be it quran classes or take my children to islamic classes or anwhere. If one stongly believes that it is not because your husband or your father or mother or anyone for that matter who is not fulfilling your want, it is in the great wisdom of Allah that if that matter was good for you, then He would give it to you but if it was bad then He prevents it from you and this is true in any situation.

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