Teresa Brooks Life Coaching

Live your best life …

Questions: What? or Why?

 

Questions are important ways of gaining information and of clear communication. It has been said that if you ask the right question, you’ll get the right answer. Just check out Google search!!! Depending on what information is put into the search engine, you are either delighted with the answer or quite frustrated by the weird selection of information that comes on the screen.

‘What’ and ‘why’ questions asked with curiosity provide information. ‘What’ questions tend to be asked from the point of view of the observer whereas ‘why’ questions tend to be based on assumptions.

Have you noticed how many times we begin an inquiry with the word ‘why’?

Let’s consider the following question:

  Why are M-J’s socks on the floor?

Asking a question beginning with ‘why’ facilitates a creative answer. If M-J is present when the question is being asked, then she has time to come up with a plausible reason. If she is not there, the question is voiced rhetorically and the questioner supplies an answer. Being infinitely creative, the human imagination comes up with a range of scenarios. What might this look like?

Because M-J’s socks are on the floor, she is:

absent minded

disobedient

disrespectful

lazy

refuses to take responsibility for her things

self centred

Suddenly, we are at a point which is quite a distance away from what is happening, namely, there are socks on the floor. Our feelings of irritation have come to keep us company as we ponder the sock question.

‘WHY’ QUESTIONS HAVE THE CAPACITY TO MIX FEELINGS WITH FACTS AND SKEW OUR VIEW OF REALITY.

‘Why’ questions are also associated with ‘should’ and ‘supposed to’ statements. Notice what happens when you hear yourself saying, ” X should listen to me” or ” X isn’t supposed to….” What follows is our own ‘soapie’, a really good story based on a judgement we have made. Reality suffers as a result of this type of reasoning.

So are we never to ask ‘why’ questions? Of course not. ‘Why’ questions involve the collection of information.  Scientists and inventors are constantly asking those questions. They are the stuff of hypotheses, creative solutions and new knowledge.

On the other hand, a ‘what’ question is far more unambiguous. It tends to direct attention to what is happening here and now. For example, what did M-J do? She left her socks on the floor. It is a statement of fact. The evidence is there. This is real. M-J can be directed to pick up her socks. Problem solved ( or not, but that is another issue altogether).

‘What’ questions are particularly useful when we want to gain clarity about personal problems. Emotionally charged situations tend to push us towards ‘our story’ as a way of making sense of the problem. The down side being the interpretive quality of our answers. There is no way of checking the accuracy of our assumptions. It is guesswork. Becoming an observer and asking the question, “What am I feeling?” has the effect of taking us out of our ‘story’ and into the present moment. The answer might be, ” I am nervous, worried, anxious, afraid etc.” This might be followed by, ” What am I able to do about it right  now?” The answers may be many and varied depending on the situation. The power of this type of questioning lies in the fact that no interpretations of motive are necessary. We are not making up a story. We are dealing with what is present. It is a much simpler  and effective approach because we are dealing with ‘our stuff’. After all, guessing at the motives of others is non of our business.

WHAT’ QUESTIONS ARE POWERFUL BECAUSE THEIR FOCUS IS THE PRESENT MOMENT; NOT THE PAST, NOT THE FUTURE BUT THE HERE AND NOW.

Becoming an observer of our own behaviour takes practice but it is worthwhile. From this vantage point, we will see more clearly. Asking ‘what’ questions will help us focus on observable facts and therefore remain in the realm of reality. From this place, it is much easier to see the way forward.

Be kind to yourself

 

 

 

 

 

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