The power of questions
Tell someone you want to ask them some questions and there’s no telling what reaction you might get. Questions hold a strange place in our relationship with language and other people.
Somewhere deep in the back of our brains, many of us have a traumatic recollection of being asked questions at school. Or of being questioned by our parents. As we get older, we add other circumstances where questions are the weapon of communication warfare.
We dread job interviews. We avoid being interrogated by our spouses and partners. We shudder at the thought of a therapist’s couch. We throw up protective barriers against the unending questions of children. In fact, we have turned the very act of questioning into a joke, made fun of in movies and on TV.
But the truth is, our brains love questions. Questions beg to be answered, which makes our brain seek answers. We draw on our knowledge and experiences, creating connections to fill the empty space a question leaves. Where we lack the information, we seek it out to answer the unanswered question.
In this way, questions drive knowledge and growth. They fuel creativity and critical thinking. And when it comes to personal development and self-awareness, questions engage us to think more deeply and even change our mindsets.
Questions are a natural part of our self-talk, that inner voice we hear as we go through life. But if we pay attention, we are often asking ourselves the wrong questions, especially when things go wrong. Questions like “Why does this always happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? What’s wrong with me?” bubble from inside us with little thought.
But our brains will have no trouble answering questions like that. Before we even realize it, our brain will fill in the blanks, answering the questions and reinforcing our own negative assumptions about ourselves.
What if, instead, we asked ourselves open constructive questions? What if we asked about the opportunities created by the turn of events. Or the possibilities for us to change because of them? Or what we could learn from the circumstances?
Changing how we ask questions creates room for more insight, deeper exploration, and greater self-awareness. We can question ourselves into a better future by looking at things differently.
Part of the reason I started writing again is to begin to explore my own unanswered questions. What is my purpose? What is truly important to me? How can I create more meaning in my life? This means I will have to open myself to where those questions lead.
What questions have you left unanswered? And are you ready to hear the answers?
About the Author
Bianca is a multi-slash lover of life. techie | wordsmith | photographer | performer | poet