The Power Of Questions

Questions are an excellent way to access your subconscious mind, and the process is a simple one.

Suppose you are in a situation where you want to make a good impression. You walk up to the person you want to impress and blurt out a tactless remark. Instantly you realize what you've done.

If you ask yourself a negative question like, "Why am I always such an idiot?" your brain will come up with all sorts of reasons in order to answer that question. This is of absolutely no help to you, either in the present situation or at any time in your life.

If instead you ask yourself, "How can I recover from this mess?" your brain will sort through your memory banks to come up with some strategies to redeem your blunder.

In other words, your brain will always present an answer to any question you ask yourself. The answer may not necessarily be true, but your brain feels obligated to respond to your questions and will do its best to present you with some kind of answer, whether feasible or not.

How can you use this brain function to improve your life?

Train yourself to ask only positive questions.

Questions like "Why am I so talented?" and "How did I get to be so lucky?" will give you far more positive results than those that presuppose a critical answer. Often the brain recognizes that many of these questions are rhetorical, in other words they don't actually require an answer, but the impact is still positive. The questions imply that you are talented or you are lucky, thereby reinforcing the notion. In this sense they function the same way as affirmations.

WHY Questions

Asking, "Why do I always fail?" will inevitably lead to answers like "Because you're a loser!"

"How can I succeed in this venture?" will lead to creative and useful answers.

questions are often circular in nature and are not utilized in this particular process. Replace them with questions like

  • How can I do this?
  • What do I need to do next?
  • When do I need to finish this?
  • Where do I need to be right now?
  • What do I need to learn here?

Daily Questions

Anthony Robbins popularized the use of questions in his excellent tape programs, Personal Power and Personal Power II. Tony devised three sets of questions: one for mornings, one for night, and another set to use when dealing with problems throughout the day.

1. The Morning Questions

Answer the following questions every morning to set yourself up for a positive day.

  1. What am I most happy about in my life right now?
    What about that makes me happy?
    How does that make me feel?
    (Repeat thse two secondary questions after each main question)
  2. What am I most excited about in my life right now?
  3. What am I most proud of in my life right now?
  4. What am I most grateful for in my life right now?
  5. What am I enjoying most in my life right now?
  6. What am I most committed to in my life right now?
  7. Who do I love? Who loves me?

2. The Evening Questions

Ask yourself these questions at the end of each day before sleep.

  1. What have I given today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. How has today added to my life?
  4. How can I use today as an investment in my future?
  5. What did I do today towards reaching my goals?
  6. Optional: Add the morning questions.

3. The Problem Solving Questions

These questions are helpful when working towards a goal and/or encountering an obstacle.

  1. What do I need to do today towards reaching my goals?
  2. How can I become successful and enjoy the process?
  3. What can I learn from this experience?
  4. What do I respect about this person?
  5. What's actually funny about this situation that I haven't noticed before?
  6. What's great in my life right now?
  7. How can I make this happen right now and enjoy the process?
The three sets of questions can be printed in a large font on separate sheets of paper and displayed in your work space.

The Ultimate Question

In the 1980s, NLP co-developer Leslie Cameron-Bandler developed a process called Imperative Self Training. One segment of the process looks at a general, all-encompassing question that a person asks themselves in all situations.

Uncovering this information takes a certain amount of exploration but eventually one question emerges above all others. The following example might make the principle clearer.

Linda was juggling a new counseling practice and a part-time office position, as well as raising two teenaged children on her own. She soon found herself regarding most situations in her life as another chore to contend with. Regardless of whether she was attending a conference, driving her children to a concert or arranging a dinner date with friends, Linda habitually asked herself,

"What do I have to do next?"

In the course of the Imperative Self Training, she worked with her therapist to develop a new, more life-enhancing question. The result was:

What's worth choosing to do that adds to my life?

This helped Linda reframe all her activities and she eventually discarded those that didn't resonate with her new question.

Your Key Questions

So what do you ask yourself in every situation?
What is your overall attitude towards your life?

  • Are you enjoying yourself?
    Do you take the time to do one thing you really enjoy every day?

    Life is to be enjoyed in the moment along with pursuing future goals. We've all heard the old cliché that no one on their deathbed ever wishes they'd spent more time at the office. What might you regret at the end of your life? Find a way to do it now or as soon as it's feasible.

  • Do you have something to be excited about?
    Everyone needs a purpose of some kind, and the best kind is one that excites or inspires you. One of my mentors once said, "If it isn't fun, don't do it!" Amid the resulting objections from his students, he went on to explain that it's important to find work you enjoy, as well as making sure you have enjoyable moments every day.

    While it might take time to ease out of a job you dislike and into a new career, you need to commit to taking the necessary steps. Your quality of life is worth more than a steady paycheck, as many people who've deliberately simplified their lifestyles have discovered.

  • Do you have things you're grateful for?
    What gifts or blessings has life presented you with?
    What are your talents? What is unique about you?
    What people do you appreciate meeting or knowing?
    What experiences do you appreciate having?

    What can you be grateful for that you don't have yet, but would like to have in the near future? Giving thanks ahead of time is one way to make your goals happen sooner. Remember the Big Yes.

  • Do you have things in your life that you're proud of?
    If you're not sure, take some time to write down your list of accomplishments, starting from the very beginning of your life when you learned to walk and talk. Go through each year of your life and list your achievements during that period. You may be surprised to discover how much you've actually accomplished to date.

    Keep this list where you can read it when you need to be reminded of your 'wins'.

  • Who do you love and who loves you?
    Love isn't confined to the romantic arena. It can include relationships with children, pets, friends and family members.

    When people in goals workshops do the exercise of imagining they have only one month to live, the majority choose to spend that time with loved ones, adding perhaps one lifelong fantasy such as visiting the Eiffel Tower or sailing down the Amazon. In the end, the people we care about come first in our lives, so it makes sense to make time for them while we can.

Helping Others

The power of questions can be used to help other people who come to you to discuss a problem.

While many people simply need someone to listen while they explain their current dilemma, you can also help them access their own subconscious problem-solving skills. After allowing them five to ten minutes to describe the problem, you might begin asking them some positive questions such as:

  • So what do you think you'll do to resolve this?
  • What do you plan to do about it?
  • What else could you do to solve this?
  • What's your ideal solution?
  • If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to happen?
  • How can you make this happen?
If they claim they don't know what to do, you can ask:
  • I understand that, but if you did know, what would you do?
Remember that a person's brain will come up with answers to any questions they ask themselves, and this applies to any question you ask them as well.

So ask respectfully and with compassion, and see if you can help your friend access his or her own resources by utilizing the power of questions.

Your Next Step:
  1. If you haven't already done so, read the Positive Vocabulary page and the Positive Affirmations page.

  2. Then return to the Wealth Mindset page.

Disclaimer: This site is purely educational and we make no claims or guarantees with regard to the information presented. Please consult a certified NLP practitioner for individual coaching in the use of NLP techniques. We strongly advise consulting a financial industry professional before embarking on a wealth creation journey.