Useful Questions help us to gain awareness, compassion, and clarity. They are focused on what we can feel and recognize in ourselves NOW and get us out of mental traps where we’re guessing about others or an unknowable future.
- Opens our awareness.
- Brings us mindful clarity
- Soothes the primitive brain
- Brings more of our body-mind online
- Supports thriving (not just surviving)
- Breaks free from mental loops
- Promotes resourcefulness (rather than criticism)
When we’re activated (triggered), our brain tends to get stuck in a story, an “explanation,” a criticism, or a fear. By asking, “what am I noticing?” we are invited to pause.
Noticing includes what we’re feeling – the sensations in our body, whether we’re likely in fight, flight, or freeze, and beliefs that are activated.
Noticing includes awareness of our current level of safety – are we under physical threat? Lions, tigers, or bears here? Do I need to leave or change my right distance to calm myself and restore my confidence?
Noticing actively brings us back to what’s alive NOW.
Trauma triggers are only partially about what is happening NOW. The question, “what does this remind me of?” allows the parts of us that remain unhealed from trauma to speak up.
Someone criticizes you, and instead of responding with calm confidence, you feel like you better not say anything… or else!
What does this remind you of?
Perhaps it reminds you of a parent who would hit you if you argued with their criticism, no matter how cruel and unjust it was. The question would let you know that your reaction NOW is linked to those past traumas.
Once we know what a feeling or reaction is linked to inside us, we can use EFT Tapping to help clear it. We can even acknowledge (to ourselves and any understanding people in our life) that our reaction is magnified by past trauma and ask for their support and understanding.
It’s also a question that has dramatically helped those of us that habitually blamed ourselves for not speaking up or being confident when the truth is we still were working on intense traumas where speaking up or being honest was unsafe.
A cruddy question tends to make us feel terrible, confused, and disempowered.
- Why am I so fat?
- Why did they do that?!?
- Why can’t I ever ____?!?
- Why do they think…?!?
- But why won’t they?!?
Cruddy questions often are why questions.
They are also questions where we feel like we’re guessing or imagining the answer, so it doesn’t feel “good” to us to land on the answer.
The more desperate the need is to know why… the more the question itself is linked to unresolved trauma. Take care of the trauma and the desperate WHY lets go, and you can ask and answer useful questions instead.
- What am I noticing?
- How intense is this feeling 0-10?
- What does this remind me of?
- If there were an emotion in that painful part of my body, what might it be?
- How do I want to feel?
- What did I expect?
- What have I got to lose?
- Is there another way to look at this?
- What doesn’t feel completely SAFE about that?
- When did this start? What was going on in my life around then?
- What secrets am I keeping?
- What’s that like?
- How would a Wise, Kind, and Compassionate Being see this situation or past experience?
- How would I treat someone else who went through this?
- Is there wise guidance in this situation for me?
- What matters to my heart right now?
- What feels most alive for me right now?
- What would be a YES for me right now?
- Am I asking myself cruddy questions or useful ones?
Awareness, Clarity, Powerful Pause, Discernment
We invite you to share your experiences and wisdom:
- Life examples where this concept has played a role
- Other useful questions
- Links to audios, videos, books, and courses to add to our shared understanding of this concept
- Memes, quotes, and inspiring images