Anyone else a “you ask too many questions” person??
Through these daily posts it’s been my genuine desire to ask provocative questions. To get you thinking, journaling, considering how these topics show up in your life. Questioning is the way we expand beyond what we already know. Questioning the status quo, the “way it’s always been done,” or what everyone else is doing is how we contribute to change in our own lives and in the world.
Asking questions can open doors and reveal fresh possibility. Questions are the foundation of experimentation, inviting us to try something and see how it goes. Questions make it ok to not know.
As I touched on in Answers, it strikes me that there are different types of questions we ask. In addition to basic logistical questions, there are questions of agony, questions of hope, excitement or wonder, questions of curiosity and genuine interest, and questions of right or wrong. And then of course there are the big, possibly unanswerable, existential questions! And, my favorite, the beautiful question.
At different times each one of us has likely asked every kind of question.
Questions of Agony: These are the cruel or “woe is me” questions that pile on misery and can keep us stuck. They’re natural but not very helpful. The come with a tone of powerlessness– tone matters, because some of these questions, if asked in a neutral way could be genuine interest, information gathering, reflective ones.
These are the judgmental ones, the ones of self-or other criticism, the ones of despair and misery. These questions sound like: Why is this happening? Why me/us? How did we get here? How could you? What’s wrong with me (or you)? When will this ever end?? Who’s to blame?
Questions of hope, excitement, or wonder: You can feel the energy in these questions as they touch a place of wonder, awe, or imagination. There’s a lightness and a sense of delight as you feel these questions. Maybe some “nerve-cited” sensation too!
When will we find out? Is this really happening!? Are we really in this place/at this event/fulfilling this dream?? Will this work? How is it possible that there is so much beauty in the world? How did I get so lucky to feel a love like this? If I had a magic wand, how would your life be different? If I went for it, what might be possible? Can I really do this?
Questions of curiosity and genuine interest: These questions seek to understand, to connect, to go deeper.
What’s going on for you? Tell me more about your situation; I really want to know (this is the tricky statement question!). What makes you feel most alive? What does it mean to you to be successful? What DO I really want?
Questions of right or wrong: These questions try to figure out the “right” course of action. When asked internally, and if we allow ourselves enough space and time to hear true guidance, these can be super helpful. If asked of others, they can take us away from our own intuition or knowing.
What should I do? Just tell me! Is this the right choice? I don’t know… is that wrong? What does the book say we’re supposed to do in this case? What do the experts tell us to do?
Existential Questions: The super big, maybe unanswerable questions we ask about life itself and our life and purpose.
Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life? What’s the meaning of life? Does anything matter? If nothing matters, does everything matter? Is there a God, and if there is, how could they let ____ happen?
And, then, there is the Beautiful Question:
I learned about Beautiful Questions in a workshop on curiosity at Camp Good Life Project back in 2018. Steven Morris described it as a question that can’t be answered by the mind alone and that it may be something you have to sit with for some time.
So, the beautiful question is one you may not know the answer to easily (or ever), and for me, these are the questions that have caused me to open my mind, and more importantly, my heart to a broader perspective.
As a mom of a young man with substance use disorder, many of my questions over the years had been anything but beautiful! There were many questions of agony, of right and wrong, seeking outside advice and answers, which no one could really give us. There were not too many questions of curiosity or wonder and certainly no beautiful wide-open wonderings. I was too constricted by fear.
The question that changed our life:
Steven’s workshop broke open a question that would change my and our experience of life, and it was this: What if we stop trying to save his life and just love him, as he is, for as long as he’s here?”
Every single word of this question felt important for me to really take in. This question came from some place beyond my mind. I know that because it makes no sense to a Mom mind. And yet, it acknowledges and embodies the reality of our situation. We can’t save his life, and we’re making all of us crazy trying to do so. We do love him deeply, so what if we fully gave ourselves permission to love with all of our hearts. And, he might die too young. Knowing that, how do we want to live and be with our son while he’s here?
Somehow my heart and soul can hold the hugeness of this question. Somehow this question frees us to be with our son in a more peaceful, accepting way. It allows, at least occasionally, the desperation to fall away. It enables us to give him the freedom to live his life and find his way. It stops us from so much telling and yelling.
And, so I ask you, dear reader: What’s the value in asking good questions? Powerful questions? What questions actually engage you or your conversation partner in some deeper thought and interaction? What beautiful question might your life be asking you to sit with? Is there one that would open you up?
I can’t wait to hear what this topic stirs for you!