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How Good Questions Help Decide - Self-development, Society
How Good Questions Help Decide - Self-development, Society

Video: How Good Questions Help Decide - Self-development, Society

Video: How Good Questions Help Decide - Self-development, Society
Video: How to Ask Better Questions | Mike Vaughan | TEDxMileHigh 2023, June

In my office sits a woman in her 40s and cries bitterly. She is smart and beautiful - successful in business, tastefully dressed, slim and fit thanks to the gym. Nevertheless, her husband left her for another. Moreover, the other one is not at all younger and not at all prettier. Bitter tears are flowing: “What did he find in her? And most importantly, what's wrong with me ?! "

The art of questioning

I propose to perform a simple test invented in the middle of the last century by sociologist Manfred Kuhn. It is necessary to give 20 answers to the question “Who am I?” Within 10-12 minutes. The client thinks for a minute and writes her answers: manager; opened a chain of stores; mother of two children; good driver; sportswoman (etc.).

After she finishes writing, I ask: "What do you think, which of your roles or qualities listed here are relevant to your husband?" She begins to argue with conviction that almost everyone is relevant. For example, it is she who, thanks to her business, earns the lion's share of the family budget and actually feeds the entire family, including her husband.

This is all great, but I am phrasing the question a little differently: "Let's clarify: what roles / qualities of yours satisfy your husband's needs in a close relationship with you?" The woman scrutinizes the list and freezes as if struck by thunder. She suddenly realizes that her list is missing roles such as "caring wife", "passionate lover" or something similar, which is important for maintaining emotional intimacy with her husband from his point of view.

She exhales in horror: “Lord, what an egoist I am! Why is that ?! " I tell her that "Why?" Is a bad question. Imagine that children are playing in the yard and a seven-year-old boy, keen on the game, accidentally smashes a window with a ball. Angry adults jump out into the yard and ask the same question: “Why did you do that ?! Answer! " But what can you answer in this situation? How can you explain your behavior if everything happened by accident? It just happened, it happened … But will such an explanation satisfy anyone?

Much more productive instead of asking "Why?" ask yourself the question "What?" over and over again and send it inward. I suggest she try:

  • What exactly happened? Facts and facts only! No assessments, conjectures or interpretations; only an objective picture of events, as in the police protocol.
  • How did you feel about what happened (how did you feel then, immediately)? How do you feel now? How have your emotions / experiences changed?
  • What do you think about what happened? What thoughts related to this event are constantly spinning in your head?
  • What else do you feel? Delve deeper into your experience: what other emotions are you feeling? (Hint: Deep emotions are related to bodily sensations. Mentally scan your body and try to find any unusual / unpleasant sensations. When you do, focus on those sensations and try to understand what emotion is behind them).

But even after such a deep immersion in the problem, the question "What?" does not exhaust itself. On the contrary, it is time to ask the main question: “What did all this happen to you? What does this tell you about your life? " This is a question about the meaning of what happened, which helps to distance yourself from the problem, to look at it from the outside. To understand the meaning of the problem, to draw some life lesson from it.

The lesson is learned, and (you guessed it) the time comes for the next question: "What do you want?" More precisely, this is how a psychologist or a psychotherapist would formulate the question. But after you have sufficiently deeply realized your state and found the meaning of what happened, you can ask this question - "What do I want?" - ask yourself yourself. Now is the right time!

The main answer

The question "What do I want?" - this is a question about the desired goal; about the "ideal" state in which you want to be after solving the problem. It is necessary to answer it thoroughly and accurately, asking yourself several times. Perhaps the most correct wording here is: "What do I want in fact ?" If the answers are honest, based on a deep understanding of the situation, yourself (your needs, opportunities and limitations), then you will surely find the optimal solution.

How optimal the found solution is can be easily checked. Just ask yourself the following question: "What will I do in the very near future (or better right now) to achieve my goal?" If the response intention (active intention, willingness to take action "here and now") arises easily and quickly, then this means that the solution found is environmentally friendly for you. It does not cause unnecessary internal resistance, it fits well with your everyday life, and you are very likely to bring it to life. It remains only to take and do!

… Dear readers! So, literally on one page, I presented to you the algorithm of psychotherapy, which lasted more than six hours and fit into four sessions

I foresee your question and inform you that the main character of the note has finally dispersed with her husband. Peering into herself, she realized that the emotional connection between them had long since faded away and that deep neurotic emotions were at the heart of her negative reaction to her husband's departure (first of all, shame that she “did not save her family” in the eyes of others).

She also learned her life lesson from this situation. Most of all she liked the aphorism: "If the horse is dead - get off it!" Let's decipher: do not cling to a relationship that has exhausted itself; you should not look for the guilty ones (and even more so, assign yourself to this role).

You should trust your inner feelings more and move into the future, opening up to new relationships in which it will really be good and joyful. (Of course, we outlined the first steps that she would like to take towards her new happiness, but this is already too personal, beyond the scope of this note.)


The purpose of this post is to demonstrate to readers the power of such a powerful psychotherapeutic tool as questions

It is questions (many questions!) That are the first thing that any client of a psychologist / psychotherapist faces. But questions have healing power not only in the mouth of a specialist, you can easily use them yourself - as a way of self-psychotherapy.

In addition to the questions listed above (which can be used as a ready-made self-questioning algorithm), I will give questions for self-psychotherapy from the book by Muriel Schiffman “Gestalt self-therapy. New Techniques for Personal Growth”. In her opinion, almost any psychological problem can be "taken apart" and solved independently with the help of five questions:

  1. What's wrong? What makes my emotions go wild in this situation? May I say that my emotional reaction is unusual, excessive, irrational?
  2. What exactly did I feel? It is necessary to feel as thoroughly and fully as possible (and throw out, react, exhaust the experience) the surface emotion that has arisen in this situation.
  3. What else did I feel? What hidden emotion (or several emotions) is hidden under the surface experience? It is useful here to turn to your bodily sensations, to study them.
  4. What does this remind me of? Have there been situations in my life when I felt something like this? What are these situations? How do I usually behave in these situations? What do they have in common, what unites these situations?
  5. How does it all work? Based on the answers to questions 1–4, a pattern can be identified - a general scheme of my response in such situations. There is an understanding that “in situations of type A, I experience emotion B, behind which, in fact, emotion C is hidden”. This understanding makes me more conscious, and my behavior more predictable.

If I know my negative patterns, then I can no longer react automatically, but choose a more constructive reaction. Once the pattern is recognized, it can be changed, it can be manipulated. Which gives us the opportunity to get rid of any problems in this way.

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