Have you ever noticed that when you’re confronted with one of life’s inevitable challenges, you tend to ask yourself a question that sounds something like:
- Why does this always happen to me?
- Why can’t he plan our date nights every once in awhile?
- Why does she have to nag at me constantly?
A while back, I wrote a blog about high quality questions. The gist of this concept is that we can either ask questions in a way to focus our minds on solutions that make us feel inspired or on problems that make us feel stuck.
When Jove and I had sessions with clients, they often culminated with “reflective sessions” where I would hold space for the client to come up with a question that would be asked of Jove in the round pen (yes, Jove was excellent at answering people’s questions, even though — and especially because — he was a horse!).
The hardest (and most important part) was finding the “right” question to ask.
Jove would often hang out nearby as I led clients on the journey of finding the right questions, and he would give me clues as to whether or not we were on the right track. For example, if we were doing fine, he would usually just stand quietly with a back foot rested and snooze. But if we were off track, he would nudge me with his nose or even on occasion actually move me out of the way.
Many clients tended to want to rush through the part where we were developing the question. They’d start out in an open, inquisitive place, but quickly get impatient. They wanted to just get into the round pen with Jove so they could get the answer.
But without the right question, they would never learn what Jove could teach them about how to move through whatever struggle they were facing at the time, regardless of whether it was striking out in the dating world or feeling overlooked in their career. What Jove was able to teach people in the ring was nothing short of a miracle; but we had to find the right question first.
I miss our partnership and the ease with which we were able to facilitate great learning and expansion with our clients… but you can still benefit from this powerful work. Even just training yourself to think in high quality questions will serve you in a big way, because you’ll have access to inspiration and unique ways of solving problems that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to think of.
To that end, here is a step-by-step example of moving from that low-quality question space to the high-quality question space:
- Start by writing down the low-quality question you find yourself asking…
In this example, our client was thinking (and occasionally saying out loud): How many times do I have to ask my kids to clean up their mess?!”
- Then dig a little deeper. Ask yourself to “tell me more…”, while being careful not to get into the “story” too much. In other words, you want to gently explore your thoughts around this particular issue without allowing it to turn into a full-fledged bitch session.
Example: “It feels like things keep escalating, because I have to keep asking over and over with no action being taken on their end.”
- Determine your current emotional “set-point” around the subject. So, once you’ve determined the thoughts you’re thinking, you can figure out how thinking those thoughts makes you feel.
Example: “I feel frustrated, angry, disrespected…”
- Acknowledge those emotions as they come up. This is important in staying authentic and true to yourself, while calming frayed edges as needed.
Example: “That’s how I’m feeling now if I’m being really honest.”
- What do you believe the other party is thinking or experiencing? Note that this is not about explaining away the way you feel, or trying to deflect or defer. The goal is to just be able to explore other perspectives so you aren’t so locked into your own.
Example: “They just don’t care… they think that’s just me being ‘anal-retentive Mom’ again.”
- Work toward getting curious about this experience. What would you like to know about this situation that could allow you to feel a different way about it?
Example: “I would like to know that it’s possible for that pattern to change, ideally by them actually cleaning up after themselves after the first time I ask… or even without my having to ask at all! I’d also like to not get so frustrated and waste my time/energy when they don’t do what I want them to do. I’d like to know that they care.”
- Notice if any of the particular thoughts that pop up as you’re getting curious feels more beneficial or empowering?
Example: “Ideally, I should try to not get angry, but that also feels somehow dishonest. As a parent, I should be able to teach my kids good habits. If I have to be a zen master every time they won’t pick up their backpacks from the hallway, that won’t feel good either. I should be the kind of parent that can inspire my kids to clean up after themselves…”There. Did you feel that? That was the shift…
- Now you just have to flip that statement — the crux of the matter — into a new, high-quality question.
Example: “How can I be the kind of parent who inspires my kids to clean up after themselves?”
Notice how the first question would lead down a long, frustrating, ultimately fruitless road. And the second question at the end opens up a world of possibilities, opportunities, and just in general feels way better.
This is a practice, like with anything else. And when I was in training to become an equine-facilitated experiential learning practitioner, we spent by far the most time on this subject. Getting to the right question is everything.
And to that end, I invite you to join my brand new community on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/EverlastingLoveClub/), where you can connect with me and other strong, self-empowered women who are ready to manifest love in their lives. We have created a safe, nurturing space where you can get the support you have been craving – without any of the judgment – to finally create the relationships you’ve been dreaming about.
Each week, you’ll have the opportunity to be coached by me in the group, and get total clarity about who and what you want in your love life.