The Power of a Question

“She hears voices.”
“He talks to himself.”

Until recent years such observations conveyed suspicion of ... insanity! Or maybe the dazzling brilliance of an eccentric genius. Few people want to be thought of as the first or qualify for the second. Could that be why so few people know about this powerful journaling technique?

Posing questions in your journal and then writing down the answers may be the single most powerful tool available for insight, healing and problem-solving. The more you use it, the stronger it grows. This technique is recommended by all leading journal experts for developing insight, solving problems, enhancing creativity and more. Let’s take a quick look at a few Power Questions and how to use them. Later posts will explore specific questions in more depth.

The first step of the simple process is to describe a troubling or puzzling situation, then follow it up with a question like one of these:

What can I learn from this?

An ideal question to pose after recording anger, hurt or fear arousing incidents and events.

Is this true?

This simple question is an offshoot of The Work of Byron Katie. Whether you are writing or obsessing, it’s a great way to break your chain of blame and negativity. It’s also a way to protect yourself from overoptimism.

What would (insert name) say about this?

Some variation of this question opens the door to understanding other points of view that may provide the key to resolving differences, or removing thorns from sticky situations.

What would I rather be doing? 
What gives me the most pleasure? 
What’s my payoff for continuing down this path?
How do I really feel about this?

The more often you pose questions to yourself, the more easily they will come to you. The second step is to start writing answers without any conscious effort to find them. Set your Inner Critic aside and just write. Let the words flow. You may be surprised at some of the answers that appear on the page. Don’t settle for the first answer that pops out of your pen. There may be many, and the most productive may lurk at the bottom of the bottle.

Where do these answers come from? Some say the creative subconscious. Others may claim they come from Spirit in whatever form you understand it. Maybe imply The Universe. Who cares? They work. Do yourself a favor and give them a try.

Write now: briefly describe a puzzling or emotionally draining situation. Begin a new paragraph with the question, “What can I learn from this?” Spend at least five minutes freewriting answers without conscious thought on your part. Read the answers and continue to drill down with more questions about juicy answers. Finish with a simple “Thank you.”

Photo: Wikimedia


JoAnn M said...

Since I have zero emotionally draining questions, I will see if I can borrow some from frenemies ;-) Katie has made tremendous inroads in simplifying our personal exploration. Thanks for posting this reminder to utilize her example.

Kathleen Pooler said...

Hi Sharon,
I appreciate this post. I am entering a highly- sensitive and emotionally-charged area in my memoir journey and I feel these questions will serve as a guide as I tread these uncertain waters. Thanks for sharing these insights!


Sharon Lippincott said...

JoAnn, LOL! What a great sense of humor you have. BK helps people think straight. As far as I know, she does not stray into the arena of writing. But her system is even more powerful when thinking becomes visible.

Kathy, these are just starter questions. Let intuition be your guide to the best ones for you. You may need more than one, in sequence. You may need to try two or three to find the one that cracks the shell and gives you access to any degree of insight. Patience and persistence! And best wishes on your memoir

selfempowerment said...


Nice post you have and thanks for sharing.