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How to feel more positive with 2 surprisingly powerful questions 

Do you always seem to focus on the negative in any situation, no matter how many positives other people tell you there are?

If your answer is YES, then I suspect you are regularly asking yourself questions like:

Questions are powerful ways to direct your focus.

However most of the time we are unaware of the questions we ask ourselves and therefore never experience the control we have over them, or the powerful affect they can have on our mind-sets and how we feel.

So firstly, it’s important to catch yourself when you ask yourself a question that is going to direct your attention to the negatives, or lead you down a path to beating yourself up.

Then, the next step is to replace that question with one that can help you to see things in a different way.

So, here are 2 of the most powerful questions that have helped me and my coaching clients to re-direct our attention and develop a more optimistic outlook about those unwanted things that can happen to us:

Question 1: What’s good about this?

This question is great because it forces you to search for the positive. There will always be something good in any situation, you just have to look for it. I’m reminded of the Dumbledore quote from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban here:

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Here’s an example of how to use this question:
A client of mine who is ambitious, confident, and very capable, recently found herself being managed by a new Director who was clearly NOT a people person, or focused on developing her team. She was very narcissistic, always out for herself, very false, and extremely defensive whenever someone gave her feedback.

This made working for her really difficult, and any development or progression was non-existent. My client told me this situation was knocking her confidence and affecting the quality of life at work but also at home. After acknowledging the difficulty of her situation, I then asked – So what’s good about this situation?

Her answer was this – “well actually because my manager is pretty hands off, it means she leaves me to manage my own diary. So, my day is actually pretty much in my control, and if I need to leave early to pick up my son, I can do so and not feel guilty or watched.”

Now whilst this was only one good thing, among a whole load of other rubbish things, it did shift her mind-set and she began to feel more positive. This meant she was now able to re-focus and begin to figure out what she was going to do about her situation.

Question 2: How can I use this?

This question helps you to give more of a meaning to those situations you don’t like, want or have no control over – like traffic jams, or organizational restructures

Here’s how this works:
In Victor Frankl’s book a ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, he says:

As long as you have a why, you can withstand any how.”

And to be honest he probably experienced one of the worst experiences anyone could. He was imprisoned in a Jewish concentration camp for many years. But he used his time there to study whether those who survived this ordeal shared any qualities.

What he found was that those who survived or escaped had given the experience a reason or a positive meaning, and in turn became mentally stronger than others.

Those who survived said … “I must survive this so that when I leave I can make sure this never happens again”. Or … “I must teach my children how to overcome adversity and this experience will enable me to do that.”

So, when you get stuck in a traffic jam, or any other situation that causes you to focus on all the problems with getting stuck, popping in the question of ‘how can I use this?’ will trigger your brain to see the situation differently.

You could say… “well I’m stuck, so what can I do with this time of no interruptions?”.

“Maybe I’ll ring that friend I haven’t had a chance to speak to (on hands free of course). Maybe I’ll just sit and listen to some great music. Maybe this is a rare opportunity to practise mindfulness.”

Another of my clients who has just left corporate life to set-up a coaching business and who has also been trying for many years to get pregnant, used this very question in a remarkably profound way.

She has decided to focus her business on coaching people through the very emotional and stressful process of trying for a baby. She said to me – maybe I’m not meant to have a baby, maybe I can use this situation and my experience of finding ways to deal with it and accept it, to help others going through the same thing.

Wow right!! What a place to get to! But totally shows the power of that question.

Remember – question your questions!!