Empowering questions are a great way to stimulate your brain to look for answers during challenging situations. In this article, I will explain the importance of empowering questions and how you can ask yourself empowering questions.
What are empowering questions?
Have you ever asked yourself: ‘Why am I so fat?’ or ‘Why can’t I do anything right?’ And.. how did that make you feel? Did it make you feel competent? Did you feel in control over your life? Did you feel motivated to take action? Most likely not. These are disempowering questions, which cause anxiety, self-doubt, and a lack of self-esteem.
Empowering questions, on the other hand, are questions that are positive, challenging, but supportive. Questions that make you feel in control over the situation, which inspire you to take ownership and motivate you to take action in a better direction.
Why should we ask ourselves empowering questions?
Research has shown that 60-80% of our thoughts are negative. This becomes very clear in the type of questions we regularly ask ourselves: ‘Why did you say that?’ or ‘Why did you do it like that?’.
The voice of our inner critic is very loud and our brain is wired to answer the questions you ask yourself and solve those problems. So what happens is that the answer to your questions most likely will be something like this: ‘Because you’re not smart enough or not good enough’ and it will try to avoid similar situations in the future. Sounds like the problem is solved, except that you did not move any step forward.
Empowering questions stimulate your brain to look for meaningful answers within, that are helping you to move in a better direction. Once you start asking yourself better questions, you will see that you will receive better and more valuable answers.
How to ask ourselves empowering questions?
Questions can feel very overwhelming to answer unless you ask yourself the right ones. Aren’t you sure if the questions you ask are empowering? Below you’ll find an easy-to-remember list of the characteristics of empowering questions, created by the acronym: EMPOWER.
E = Exciting
An empowering question should make you feel excited. Maybe even a little bit uncomfortable. But at least something that makes you eager to explore the answer.
M = Meaningful
The question you need to ask yourself right now, will immediately resonate with you and create clarity. The type of question will change over time, but an empowering question only works when it is meaningful to you and the situation you are in.
P = Positive
You want your question to be focused on solutions and opportunities, not on problems and blame. That’s why empowering questions are always positive. Through research, we know now, that what we focus on expands. In other words not thinking about a ‘pink elephant’ makes your brain put even more focus on that, that you do not want.
O = Open-Ended
You want your brain to work and look for the answer to your questions. So let it work for you. Open-ended questions, instead of yes/no questions, are a great stimulant to find those answers.
W = What instead of Why
Begin your empowering question preferable with what instead of why. Some examples: ’What’s holding you back?’ ‘What is one thing you could do right now?’ ‘What might you do differently next time?’ Questions that begin with why generally do not provide an empowering answer.
E = Effect
The empowering question should be causing a change in your situation. This can, either way, be an insight an action, or something else that moves you forward instead of staying stuck in the current situation.
R = Relax
It should make you feel relaxed. It should absolutely not stress you out. Make sure to be in a relaxed state when you ask yourself an empowering question, so you can discover all possibilities of the answer. Be open to seeing things in a fresh and unpredictable way.
When to ask yourself empowering questions?
The best time to start asking yourself empowering questions is right now. Empowering questions will provide you clarity, insights and inspire you to take action.
Get inspired by my free ebook: ‘‘101 empowering questions to ask yourself’ or follow me on Instagram where I daily share a thought-provoking empowering question.