Did you know that asking yourself a particular type of question can dramatically reduce the amount of anxiety you feel?

The questions are called Empowering Questions.

In this post I’ll explain why they ‘re so powerful and show you exactly how to craft them and when to use them to reduce your anxiety level and improve the quality of your life.

Our mind loves it when we ask questions

Our brains were built for answering questions and solving problems.

Our mind loves it when we ask questions, and a massive proportion of our thoughts arise in the form of questions. That’s what our mind is up to most of the time we are doing other things, just asking itself questions.

When we ask ourselves questions, our mind generates answers – even if the answers are ones that we don’t like. For instance, if we ask ourselves, “Why am I so stupid?”, our brain will start generating all possible answers and scenarios as to why that’s true. This isn’t something we can control. Our minds will always unconsciously create answers to our questions, which will then be brought forth to our conscious awareness.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself this question …

and notice what answer you get: ‘Why does this always happen to me?’

What answer did you get and where did this answer take you?

To an un-resourceful place, I would imagine.

People tend to ask themselves lots of unhelpful, disempowering questions like this one, and so end up caught in a downward spiral of negative answers. Answers that simply leave them feeling anxious, unresourceful and unmotivated.

The interesting thing here is that people who don’t experience unhelpful. problematic anxiety, habitually ask themselves different questions. They ask themselves Empowering Questions that shift them into a resourceful state. For example, they ask themselves: ‘What things am I be grateful for today?’

Be careful what you ask yourself because questions are powerful

The kind of questions we ask ourselves is important because questions direct our focus, and we always get more of what we focus on in life.

It’s impossible for our mind not to respond to a question because our brain is designed to answer questions. Thinking is merely the asking and answering of questions. And the quality of the answer depends on the quality of the question. So, to help gain freedom from unnecessary anxiety, it’s critical to make sure we ask ourselves questions that will move us forward into a useful and resourceful state.

Disempowering Questions

Most people experiencing unnecessary anxiety have developed the thinking habit of asking themselves, consciously or subconsciously, a lot of ‘What if …’ type questions.

‘What if I, or one of my family, gets COVID?’

What if we’re in lockdown for months?’

‘What if I lose my job?’

‘What if I can never afford to buy a house?’

and so on.

‘What if?’ questions like these, are disempowering, because they focus our mind on danger, risk, loss, and other negative outcomes, which sets the STRESS circuit in motion in, and we feel anxiety.

So, at the danger of repeating myself, rather than ask these disempowering questions we need to be asking ourselves empowering questions.

Empowering questions

Empowering questions focus our mind on the strengths and resources we have available to us, on our past successes, and importantly, they presuppose positive future outcomes.

Empowering questions switch our attention away from the scary mental movies we’ve been playing on our internal movie screen, onto positive, affirming, helpful thoughts and images. And as a result, they can help transform how we feel, in an instant.

Empowering Questions:

  • help us to ‘reframe’ the situation.
  • position the problem/issue in a more resourceful, useful way.
  • prime our mind for success.
  • can change our focus in an instant, transforming our state of mind and body from unresourceful to resourceful.
  • force our brain to sort for different information and as a result put us in a different and much more resourceful state.
  • focus our mind on possibilities and solutions that help us move forward (Disempowering Questions focus our mind on blame, regret, excuses, and denial).

How to form an Empowering Question

Canadian coach and hypnotist Mike Mandell says there are four layers needed to create a great Empowering Question. These are:

  1. The first layer utilises process words like “What” and “How,” that move you forward instead of keeping you stuck.
  2. The second layer places the question in the present tense or with a time constraint.
  3. The third layer states the question with positive and certain intentions. We do this by changing “can” to “will”, and by adding some element of positivity.
  4. The fourth layer asks the question with a presupposition (i.e presupposing something is going to happen or has already happened). 

Let’s take, for example, the previous “Why” question I asked you to ask yourself earlier in this lesson: “Why does this always happen to me?”

Now, let’s turn this rather pessimistic question into an Empowering Question:

  • First layer: “What’s the opportunity here that I could take advantage of?”
  • Second layer: “What’s the opportunity here that I could take advantage of, today?”
  • Third layer: “What’s the opportunity here that I will take advantage of, today?”
  • Fourth layer: ““What’s the best and easiest opportunity here that I will take advantage of, today?” [presumes there is more than one opportunity, and they are all easy – it’s just a case of picking the best and easiest.]

How to use Empowering Questions

The easiest way is to write them down as you create them and stick them in a place where you’ll see them frequently!

You can write your empowering questions on sticky notes that you attach to your bathroom mirror. That way you’ll see them every time you brush your teeth. You can post them on your fridge door, or near your coffee maker, or beside your workstation computer so they’re around you all day. You can put them on your mobile phone, so you have them with you at all times. And perhaps, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to ask a question at set intervals during the day.

Make it a daily habit to ask yourself empowering questions

The strength of an Empowering Question takes hold when it’s asked on a recurring basis. Read them each day and take a moment to generate some answers.

Once you get into the habit of regularly asking yourself empowering questions, you’ll be able to easily and effectively displace unhelpful, disempowering thoughts that lead to anxiety, and fill your mind with productive, engaging thoughts to help you feel empowered, safe, and resourceful.

Remember when you ask empowering questions you will reduce your anxiety level and improve the quality of your life. Start practicing today!

Need help managing your anxiety or stress?

If you’d like to explore how you can reduce the anxiety and stress in your life let’s have a conversation., Call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or click HERE to book a no obligation consult where we can explore how I can help you.

Here’s to a less anxious life!

Go well

I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible enjoy lives free of unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you’d like my help, or you know someone who would benefit, call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or email tony@tycoaching.nz