When we ask ourselves questions, we often don’t realise that we’re actually sabotaging ourselves in the process. Questions like “how could I do this?”, “why am I always so stupid?” or “why can I never get things right?” are not the type of questions to push ourselves forward. They are the perfect tools to put ourselves down though. That’s not what we’re trying to do when we talk to ourselves like that, of course. It sounds more like an angry (and not very good) parent or teacher would talk to a child; not like a supportive parent or teacher would talk to them. We’ve all had our fair share of the former, let’s build ourselves up by treating ourselves like a great parent, teacher or mentor would.
Having done something we’re not proud of (whatever it is), is bad enough. Did you procrastinate until the deadline was simply impossible to meet? Did you let yourself get distracted and get things wrong? Did you forget the important thing you meant to do? All those things are regrettable and punishment enough. We don’t need to beat ourselves up about them as well and ruminate how did it (yet again) come to it.
Instead, we need to focus on improvement
How can we get better at things? What can we put in place so that we stop procrastinating? How can we deal with distractions so they don’t derail us? What can we do so we remember the important things?
Asking ourselves “productive” questions is a skill that can be learned. It’s also a habit that we need to get into in our own best interest.
So instead of asking the useless, self-effacing questions, ask the questions that lead to answers that will make a difference to your future. Here are a few examples:
“What do I need to remember today?”
“What could trip me up today and how can I avoid it?”
“What habit will I focus on today?”
“How do I want to feel today?”
… and if things went the wrong way, here’s what to ask
“What can I learn from what happened?”
“What can I do differently next time?”
“What can I put in place, so this won’t happen again?”
Use the answers to plan your next day better, to avoid pitfalls and to simply have a better day.
If this resonates with you, it is one of the strategies I teach my clients when working with them on their personal productivity. To find out more, please check out my Work With Me page.