How to Ask Empowering Questions

I recently read QBQ! – The Question Behind the Question. This book emphasizes that one of the major causes for the problems people experience is due to lack of personal responsibility. We live in a culture of blamers, it says, constantly looking outside ourselves for the cause of our problems. And because of this attitude, we ask disempowering, “blaming” questions.

It's a sad fact that when most of us are faced with a frustration, with challenge of some kind, our first reaction tends to be negative and defensive. This, in a nutshell, is the essence of the QBQ: making better choices in the moment by asking better questions.

~ John G Miller (author of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question)

AVOID questions that begin with Why, When and Who

Why don't others do their part?
Why is this happening to me?
Why are they making this so difficult?

When we ask why questions like these, we put ourselves in the position of victim. We feel powerless and immobilized.

When will they do what they promised?
When will the market turn around?
When will they take care of this?

When we ask when questions, we are really saying that we have no choice but to wait and put off action until another time. Questions that begin with when lead to procrastination.

Who is responsible for this?
Who is going to sort this out?
Who told you to do this?

When we ask who questions, what we are really doing is looking for someone else to blame. We ask who questions when we are looking for a scapegoat.

QBQ is about asking better questions. If we ask better questions, we will get better answers.

How to ask better questions
  1. Began your question with What or How (not why, when, or who).
  2. Include the word I (not they, them, we, or you)
  3. Focus on action.

What can I do today to solve the problem?
How can I help move the project forward?
What action can I take to own the situation?

Ask Open questions

Closed questions are those that can be responded to with a short answer, such as yes, no, don’t know, not sure, or maybe. Closed questions do not stimulate creative thought. Examples of closed questions are:

Am I willing to do what needs to be done?
Does my physical environment support me?
Is worrying about making a living stopping me?

Open questions
, on the other hand, encourage your subconscious mind to think creatively. Examples of open questions are:

What should I do next?
How can I improve this situation?
What problems do I need to solve first?

Asking questions like these will set the subconscious mind into action looking for creative solutions.

Keep asking!

The more often you ask yourself a good question, the more answers your subconscious will provide. This is the most effective way to solve any problem that arises in your life. Ask great questions, and keep asking them, until you receive the answers you need.

Our unconscious mind simply answers the questions we ask it. Ask empowering questions and it will return empowering answers.

Where to start?

If you aren’t in the habit of asking yourself questions, or if you have been using the wrong kind of questions in the past, it can be hard to know where to begin. To help you get started, we have created a in-depth list of quality questions, from which you can choose those that you feel might help you most right now. See Empowering Questions to Ask Yourself and choose those that feel most appropriate for you today.

Creating affirmations by asking questions

Asking questions is a great way to create empowering affirmations. Ask yourself an appropriate question. Write down your answers and then choose the best from your list. Use these as the basis for your affirmations. If you need help rewriting your answers as affirmations, see our section 9 Rules for Creating Perfect Affirmations.

Repeat this process whenever you want to promote creative change in your life. Find and ask questions that have the greatest meaning or significance for you.

What empowering question will you ask yourself today?


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