The pandemic has plagued many of us with doubts and fears. I can’t do it. I can’t find a job. I’m losing money. But the more that we say statements that reflect negativity, the more that we find ourselves wallowing in these doubts and fears. While acknowledging negative emotions is necessary to understand ourselves better, dwelling on these and indulging in negative talk do not help.
How we communicate with ourselves and with the world affects ours lives. And oftentimes, we forget that it’s not just about what we say, but it’s also about what we ask. Asking empowering questions can give us clarity, motivate us, and help us produce solutions, and therefore, better results. To do this, we need to stop, look, and listen.
This pandemic has made life tough for all of us. But if you find yourself complaining about the smallest things and talking negatively all the time, then it is time to hit the stop button and breathe. Constant complaining and negative self-talk can lead to anxiety and depression. In addition, these habits make you focus on the problem instead of possible solutions. Therefore, the next time you are tempted to complain, stop and do this next step.
After you stop yourself from saying one more negative word, it’s now time for you to look for ways to overcome your doubts and fears and solve your problem. Tony Robbins once said, “The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself.” Thus, replace negative talk with empowering questions that can lead you to the solutions that you need. In his article on Forbes, Ian Altman said, “There’s a reason why this saying rings true. The right questions, properly placed, nearly always lead to better understanding.”
Here are some examples of how you can turn your negative talk into an empowering question:
Example No. 1
Negative Talk: I don’t know what to do.
Empowering Question: What do I want to accomplish?
Saying that you do not know what to do communicates confusion and lack of direction. This might also make people believe that you do not possess the knowledge and skills that you need to get things done. Instead of this, ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?” This question can give you a clearer understanding of what direction and action steps you want and need to take. By asking yourself what you want to accomplish, you open yourself up to clarity and possibilities.
Example No. 2
Negative Talk: Nothing works.
Empowering Question: Why is it not working?
When you find yourself on the verge of giving up because nothing seems to work, remember the words of Albert Einstein. He said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Hence, when you feel like your efforts are not bearing the results you are aiming for, ask yourself why it is not working. In this way, you would be able to analyze your strategies and change them if necessary.
Example No. 3
Negative Talk: I can’t do it.
Empowering Questions: What can I do to achieve my goal?
Saying that you can’t do it is like saying you are giving up. Most of the time, this statement is followed by a list of excuses why you can’t do what you need to do. As a result, you may feel discouraged and powerless. On the other hand, by asking yourself what you can do to achieve your goal, you give yourself a sense of responsibility and accountability over your actions. Moreover, it allows you to be proactive and solution-oriented.
Example No. 4
Negative Talk: I’m alone in this.
Empowering Question: Who can help me now?
Feeling confused about my career direction one time, I reached out to a couple of consultants to ask if I could ask for their advice and guidance. To my surprise, I got an immediate and positive response from them. When we are in a challenging situation, it is easy to feel alone. But at times like this, the best thing to do is ask ourselves, “Who can hep me now?” Make a list and start reaching out to them. Some might say no. But I assure you that you will find at least one person who will be willing to help you.
After asking yourself empowering questions, it’s now time to listen and trust that you will get the answers that you need. You may find the answers while reading a book or listening to a song. The answers may come through a friend’s advice. You might even realize that the answers are just deep inside you as you take a quiet walk. Remember that it is difficult to hear the answers if your mind is clouded with negative thoughts and your heart is filled with negative emotions.
Replacing negative talk with empowering questions requires practice and discipline. Hence, the next time you catch yourself ranting, stop, look, and listen. Turning negative talk into empowering questions would not just help you improve the way that you communicate. But it would also help you improve your daily life. What is now the first empowering question that you would like to ask yourself today?