Ask Better Questions

24 Sep

To listen to the broadcast version, click here:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/betterlivingdaily/2015/09/24/ask-better-questions

Every day we ask ourselves questions.  It’s how we keep our internal dialogue going.  The tone of the question can determine the quality of our day.  The question itself can determine whether we are heading in a positive or negative direction.  How many times have you asked yourself the following:

How could I be so stupid?

Why can’t I handle money?

Why can’t I keep my house clean?

Why can’t I be a better mom, wife, worker, person?

Why do I procrastinate so much?

Why am I so fat?

Why am I so lazy?

Why am I such a mess?

I’m sure you could add on, but here’s the issue with questions.  When you ask them, your brain immediately begins to look for an answer and if the question is put this way, your brain will do its best to give you an answer.  For the former questions, how can you have anything other than a negative answer and how in the world can that help you to change the behavior?

Recently, I have been reading through old journals, and I came across some entries I wrote while I was reading through a book titled Giant Steps by Tony Robbins.  One of the things he discusses is his Ultimate Success Formula which has four parts.

  1. Decide what you want.  He says to be precise because clarity is power.
  2. Take action because desire isn’t enough.
  3. Notice what works and what doesn’t and stop putting energy toward worthless approaches.
  4. Change your approach until you achieve what you want.  Flexibility gives you the power to create a new approach and new result.

I had forgotten about this over the years, but it speaks to me from its simplicity and practicality.  In the process of deciding what you want, you have to ask yourself questions, and when you decide what you want instead of what you don’t want, you ask different questions.

How could I be so stupid? Becomes how can I live smarter?

Why can’t I handle money? Becomes how can I handle money better or what do I need to learn about money to have more of it?

Why can’t I keep my house clean? Becomes what is the best way to run our home efficiently and effectively?

Why can’t I be a better mom, wife, worker or person?  Becomes how can I improve myself every day?

Why do I procrastinate so much? Becomes how good will it feel to take action on this item?

Why am I so fat?  Becomes how can I take better care of my body?

Why am I so lazy?  Becomes what can I do to have more energy and focus?

Why am I such a mess?  Becomes how would I counsel someone in my condition or what can I do to improve my life?

You see, in my world, words matter.  There is a much different feel to the questions being asked in the first scenario versus the second?  Yes, you can still give yourself negative answers, but you are changing the direction ever so slightly.

When it comes to answering the questions, I have a few suggestions as well.  Eliminate the words idiot, stupid, lazy, failure and any other negative terms you use to describe yourself.  Imagine that you’re talking to a five year old.  You would never tell a five year old to get off their fat butt and get to work.  You would never berate a five year old for not being productive or for forgetting about the laundry in the washer overnight or for forgetting to pay a bill.  When we teach children basic skills, we encourage them.  We look for ways to help them be successful, and please don’t tell me that you are not a five year old because if you have a home in bad condition, messed up finances or even an out of shape body like mine, you have been acting like a five year old who does whatever they can get away with or you wouldn’t be in this position.  If you were acting like a grown up, your life would be different and you know it, and I’m not saying that to shame anyone.  I’m sharing that because I know what it’s like.  I’ve had the messy house, the rotten finances and wrecked body, and I’ve learned that we can make excuses or we can make progress, and the best progress comes from asking better questions.  Here are a few you can use to get you started if you’re interested.

What is the one area I would most like to improve?  I know you have several, but it’s hard to get where you want to go if you’re traveling five roads at the same time.  Focus on one area and change your habits in that area so you can see some success and then move forward even more.

What is one thing I can do today that will start my forward progress?  This can sound so small and insignificant, but it may be the biggest question of all.  You have to find a place to start.  When I started learning to take care of my home, FlyLady said to start with your kitchen sink.  I did, but I couldn’t seem to catch the momentum that she said would naturally happen.  I was still struggling until I figured out my own way.  FlyLady says there is a shiny sink in every area of your home, and I agree with that theory not only in your home but in your life as well, but my “sweet spot” as I call it, isn’t a shiny sink.  It’s a clean kitchen table.  My kitchen table is the sweet spot of not only my kitchen, but of my home and my life.  When my home was at its worst, I would move the piles from the kitchen to the dining room so we could eat at the table, but until I addressed the piles on the kitchen table, the mess in my house wouldn’t go away and I felt stuck and frustrated.  I finally realized one day that if I could just get and keep my kitchen table clutter controlled, addressed and/or cleaned up, I felt like I could move forward, so I spent the next 30 days focused on the table.  I spent several hours over several days addressing everything on the table and understood why I had procrastinated on it for so long; it took hours to address all of the paperwork.  I had to send emails and make phone calls and file.  I had to do some things that were uncomfortable, like question insurance companies, face my finances and decide which papers to keep, file or pitch.  It took a few days, but I finally did it, and the first night I didn’t have to move a stack of papers to serve dinner on my clean kitchen table was delightful.  For those of you who have a clean kitchen table or who have someone who cleans the kitchen table for you that might not seem like a big deal, but for me it was huge.  Time and again when I feel overwhelmed with life, I ask myself why am I feeling overwhelmed?  What do I need to get passed this feeling?  Then I look at my kitchen table and realized how cluttered it has become.  To this day, I don’t know if the table gets cluttered because I am overwhelmed or if I get overwhelmed because the table is cluttered.  What I do know is that as soon as the clutter is gone, every part of my life seems to even out and run more smoothly.  Sounds crazy, I know, but it works.

In our finances, we have gotten ourselves into credit card debt more times than I want to admit, but that isn’t where the trouble begins.  The trouble begins with our daily spending.  Before we had a budget, we figured we knew how much money we had to spend.  My husband gets paid monthly, so we paid our bills and did our best to live on what was left.  Unfortunately, we always seemed to run out of money before we ran out of month so we would break out our trusty credit cards and plunge ourselves further into debt.  It was a vicious cycle and you would think after digging ourselves out of $10,000 of credit card debt and then $20,000 of credit card debt we would learn our lesson, but no.  We never got our spending handled so we ended up with a third go round of credit card debt of $35,000.  We had asked how do we get out of credit card debt but we had never asked ourselves how we could stay out.  Within weeks of asking that question, we were introduced to Dave Ramsey, who not only helped us get out of our credit card debt in about two years, he has helped us stay out of that pit for several years.  The “kitchen table” of that process is writing down everything we spend.  At first we did that on small notebooks we kept in our car, but it has morphed into keeping a budget tally on a white board we keep where we can see it but others that come into our home don’t.  Every week and sometimes more often, we tally up what we’re spending and it most definitely keeps us aware and alert.  We stopped doing this for a few months and the result was a backslide of epic proportions.  Fortunately, we had funds we had saved to cover our mistakes, but it was a lesson that even after we thought we had learned how to live within our means, we still had to follow the system that got us there.

I have two areas I am currently working on.  One is creating a healthier and fit body.  I am at a weight that is taxing my body.  I don’t feel healthy, and I want to.  I’ve tried several things.  Some have worked and some haven’t but at this point, I haven’t found a lifestyle that works best.  I’m not sure that I’ve found my “kitchen table” yet, perhaps because it’s more than just food or exercise, and my five year old self has been running the show for sure or I wouldn’t be eating way more than I need to maintain a healthy body weight.  I’m also working on a career launch with a webinar and online course.  It still has a long way to go and my hope is to be more consistent with working on it.  If you read my blog post on Tuesday, you know that I am wanting to move forward with an emphasis on peace and harmony https://karenbemmes.wordpress.com/2015/09/22/rediscovering-peace-and-harmony-2/  and ultimately that’s what brings me great joy in this journey toward my personal success.  I’ve figured out to stop asking why anyone’s life is better than mine.  I’ve stopped asking what’s wrong with me or my life.  Instead, I focus on creating the best life I was born to live.  I ask what I need to do to create peace and harmony and joy in my life, and I know those answers will be better than the answers to those other questions.  Those answers will lead me to my best life, my highest quality life, my Divinely inspired life, and the one that will provide the most value for me, my family and the Universe I live in.  So what is the one thing you can do today to make this a great day for you?  Answer that.  Act on it, and then ask it again.  Thanks for reading.  Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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  1. Ask Better Questions | karenbemmes aka Better Living Daily - September 24, 2015

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