Ask the right questions and get unstuck
If it was easy to listen to our logical minds life would be so much easier, wouldn't it?
And yet sometimes we find ourselves having irrational or obsessional thoughts, ruminating over things that may or may not happen and getting ourselves into a thoroughly anxious state. You might know you're being irrational, but you can't seem to keep the crazy thoughts at bay.
And you begin to ask yourself, "Why am I feeling like this? What's wrong with me?" - and that just seems to make everything even worse! You become stuck in what's known as a negative psycho-dynamic loop.
Anxiety is simply the condition of rehearsing our next problem. We become like actors rehearing their lines for a play - and the more we rehearse, the better we get at it. We not only get better at rehearsing our next problem - we get better at creating our next problem!
So we need to rehearse the outcomes that we actually want. To do this we can begin by asking ourselves the right sort of empowering questions, and engaging the imagination in the right way. When we begin to question things in a productive rather than destructive way our unconscious mind starts to work for us instead of against us.
WHY questions keep us stuck - they make us focus on our problem. Why me? Why am I so useless? Why can't I stop thinking like this? Our brain will generate an answer in response, but it's unlikely to be a helpful one. It will only reinforce what we are already telling ourself.
Instead try asking the following type of questions:
WHAT IF questions actively cause your unconscious to consider other outcomes and possibilities. What if I am OK? What if I can do this? What if it all works out just fine?
HOW questions cause our unconscious to start thinking about how we can achieve these outcomes. They move us from problem state to solution state. How can I feel calmer? How can I get better at this? How much fun can I have doing this?
Our brains are designed to answer questions and solve problems, so make sure you are asking yourself the right ones, and repeating them frequently. Then you'll open up a whole new sense of freedom and empowerment over your thoughts.
This article first appeared in the new Stour & Avon magazine on Friday 11 March 2022