Use Questions to Change Your Mindset

mindset questions

One of the major differences between people and their outlook on life is the questions that they consistently ask themselves. If this seems like a strange observation, it may be that you have been underestimating the power of questions.

Questions have the ability to change our focus in an instant. Asking the right questions can change our mindset from a limiting one to an empowering one. Our personal view of reality hinges on what we focus our minds on. Questions are one of the fastest ways to change our mental focus.

Incentive, direction and focus

We are all in the habit of asking ourselves questions every day, most of the time were not even aware of their effect. Our minds love it when we ask ourselves questions. Questions provide the mind with incentive, direction and focus. As soon as we ask a question, our mind immediately begins searching for an answer. If we don’t like the answers that we are getting, it probably has a lot to do with the questions we are asking.

Questions have a dramatic effect on everything we do in life. They determine our abilities, the quality of our relationships and our income. By asking the right questions we can empower ourselves to change any aspect of our life.

So what are the right questions?

Questions that cause us to focus on possibilities and solutions are the ones that empower us. The problem is, we can easily slip into the habit of asking ourselves questions that are limiting, or even mentally and emotionally disabling.

Whatever we focus on the most will eventually become our reality. By training ourselves to consciously ask empowering questions, regardless of our circumstances, we will direct our minds to continually focus on new possibilities and solutions. This is exactly the kind of focus that enhances our personal growth and development.

Choosing to ask empowering questions

Now let’s look at a couple of situations that could arise and notice how asking different types of questions can radically alter our mental disposition.

Let’s say it’s Wednesday morning and the alarm just went off, what’s the first question you ask yourself? If you say, “Why do I have to go to work today?” how is that going to affect your attitude? If you say “Why do I feel so tired and run down?” how is that going to affect your energy levels? With those two simple questions you have set yourself up for a disappointing day. Why? Because now your mind is focused on finding reasons why you’re tired and have to do something you don’t want to do like go to work.

What if the first two questions you asked yourself were, “What do I have to look forward to today, and what am I most grateful for right now?” Even if you don’t have the immediate answers to those questions, your mind will focus on finding the answers. Ask yourself those questions a few times and notice how the answers make you feel. All of a sudden you have something to look forward to and something to be grateful for. How will that kind of mindset affect your day?

Here’s another situation

If someone makes a thoughtless comment to you, what’s the first question you ask yourself? If you ask, “Why don’t they like me?” how will that make you feel? Probably pretty bad, because now your mind is looking for reasons why people don’t like you and the answers aren’t likely to be very encouraging.

But what if your response was, “I wonder what I can do to help them feel better?” As your mind searches for the answers to that question you’re going to be focused on positive things, because you’re looking for a way to help someone else.

As you can plainly see, asking the right questions can produce very positive results. The challenge is that most of us are on automatic pilot. Most of the time we fail to take conscious control of the questions we ask ourselves.

In the next article we will look at some exercises we can do to train ourselves to consistently ask empowering questions. For now, try working with your morning questions and notice how it affects the rest of your day.

Do you think your questions have power?
Do you agree with the question-mindset connection?
The lines are open!

This is the first in a series of 3 articles showing how
you can Use Questions to Change Your Mindset
Use questions to Change your Mindset – Part 2
Use questions to Change your Mindset – Part 3

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  1. Tess April 4, 2010 Reply

    The questions first thing in the morning are very powerful.I still sometimes slip and it’s usually when I don’t get enough sleep.

    I find if I take a few moments the second I open my eyes to be grateful for my bed, hubs, and sleep it’s a good start. The first thing I do once my feet hit the floor is slide open the patio door step outside and say to myself, “wake up and smell the day!”

    • Jonathan April 4, 2010 Reply

      Hi Tess, I have a similar morning ritual except I don’t rush outside in the middle of winter. Our living room is full of windows with a great view so stand by the fire place and feel so grateful to have the privilege of living in such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing your special routine.

  2. Rocket Bunny April 19, 2011 Reply

    I’m a morning person. I get up around 4:30 am so I can get in a run and take care of the animals and make breakfast.
    Then do some reading while having my tea before I start work all relaxed and ready to begin the day.

    • Jonathan April 19, 2011 Reply

      What a nice routine Bunny. I imagine that the run really clears your head and gets you thinking about all the possibilities for the day.

  3. Steven Aitchison April 19, 2011 Reply

    Hey Jonathan, Questions have the power to literally change our lives, and just like the examples you gave above, can determine if we have a great day or a terrible day.

    If we ask questions that focus on a positive outcome we could literally turn our lives around.

    great article Jonathan, looking forward to the exercise.

    • Jonathan April 19, 2011 Reply

      Hi Steve, as a coach and counselor I know that you have an excellent grasp of the power of questions and how to help your clients use them to change their perspective. In fact, I think that questions are the best way to make limiting beliefs, which are usually very insulated, susceptible to logic and reason.

  4. David Stevens April 19, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    Without questions there are no answers. Without a doubt questions have power….the right questions that is i.e questions that illuminate you, questions that grow you. If your life is stalled, you are asking yourself the wrong questions. Timely post Jonathan, I’ve only yesterday thrown some questions out there via my latest post. I agree with both your questions. Take care.
    Be good to yourself

    • Jonathan April 19, 2011 Reply

      Hey David, I enjoyed your list of 21 questions. They provide a good bases for a periodic personal review at any age. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  5. Sandra April 19, 2011 Reply

    What a powerful question this is: “I wonder what I can do to help them feel better?” I will put this at the top of my good questions list. Thanks, Jonathan

    • Jonathan April 19, 2011 Reply

      Hi Sandra, that particular question works wonders for taking the focus off of ourselves and the tendency to get offended right along with it. Enjoyed your article on gluten sensitivity, it got me wondering!

  6. Stuart April 21, 2011 Reply

    Questions are what gets us from A to B in our lives. If we didn’t question anything, we wouldn’t get anywhere at all.

    I recall “The Fifth Agreement” by don Miguel Ruiz and his son, where they advocate ‘being sceptical to everything, and always listening’. I think that’s a great way to operate in life; by asking questions, we gain more and more knowledge, and we start to remove old, limiting self-beliefs that might have hampered us in the past. Having new beliefs, which can be altered and upgraded through life, can only come about by asking questions of the old beliefs.

    If we don’t question our beliefs, we won’t progress through the higher realms of our life.

    Great read as always Jonathan, I love coming here! It gets me inspired to leave meaningful comments :-)

    • Jonathan April 22, 2011 Reply

      Hey Stuart, really appreciate the kind words. Not only will asking the right questions help us get from A to B, sometimes it will open up a whole new possibility (C) that we didn’t know existed. Questions expose hidden unseen things. This is true for our beliefs (limiting or empowering), but also for new directions and choices.

  7. Steve April 21, 2011 Reply

    I first learned about the power of questions from reading Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken the Giant Within. It’s important to examine the beliefs that our questions spring from. But we can also change unhelpful beliefs through the questions that we ask. Thanks for introducing this topic :)

    • Jonathan April 22, 2011 Reply

      Hi Steve, that’s one of my favorite books of all time. I like the way questions can be used to adjust our thinking, beliefs, motives, and direction. That’s a lot of power when used correctly.

  8. Nea April 21, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan. I definitely agree that questions have power. In fact, it’s the easiest way to prevent ourselves from throwing in the towel when things get rough.

    By simply asking, “How can I do more of what I love” or “how can I have more free time” or whatever the question is…the mind starts working and we come up with solutions that we wouldn’t have thought of without asking. Great post!

    • Jonathan April 22, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Nea, those are some great questions. Once we understand how questions can be used to direct our thinking we find almost limitless opportunities to use them in positive ways.

  9. Christopher Foster April 21, 2011 Reply

    There’s a paradox here Jonathan. Asking the right questions can truly open doors to find our way thru a situation.

    Then there is surrendering to the peace of being and realizing with awe that no question exists anymore.

    • Jonathan April 22, 2011 Reply

      Hey Christopher, thanks for joining in. I think by nature the mind loves to formulate solutions. Even when we are basically at ease with life in general our natural sense of curiosity and mechanical aptitude enjoys calculating, pondering, and solving. I believe (for myself at least) that regardless of the state, the sense of wonder (which leads to questions) never stops. So, I like to use those questions in a progressive and positive way to help define my direction.

  10. James April 25, 2011 Reply

    Very clever idea. First time I’ve heard about this (asking internal questions), but I actually think it will work. Can’t wait to try it the next time I want to change my mindset from something uncool to something better.

  11. Jean-François Bureau May 1, 2011 Reply

    Interesting article!
    Yes the choice of question changes the whole perspective from a suffering dynamic to a bliss dynamic!
    Forget about the WHY and try looking for the HOW!
    Most of the time you’ll find what you are really looking for!!!
    Jean-François Bureau
    for quest for Bliss Personal Growth

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