Useful Questions

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)

What Am I Noticing?

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 through useful questions actively brings us back to what's alive NOW.

What Does This Remind Me Of?

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.

For example, when someone criticizes you, instead of responding calmly and confidently, do you feel 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 useful question, "What does this remind me of?" allows you to become aware that your reaction now is linked to those past traumas.

Once we know what a feeling or reaction is linked to, we can use EFT Tapping to help re-cast 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 who 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.

What Are Some Cruddy Questions?

A cruddy question makes 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.

Cruddy questions 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 "But Why?!?!?" the more the question itself is likely linked to unresolved trauma. Take care of the trauma and the desperate WHY lets go, and you can ask and answer useful questions instead.

Useful Questions


Related Concepts

Awareness, Clarity, Powerful Pause, Discernment


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