June 17, 2013
Deepen relationships by asking questions
To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions. — Sam Keen
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You know children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers. — John Plomp
Children ask questions. How about you?
My children used to say that they enjoyed coming to places with me because they liked hearing the answers to questions I was not afraid to ask. It was easy for me to ask questions because I knew the answers would widen my world.
Unfortunately, not everyone is encouraged to ask questions. We aren’t encouraged to explore why we believe something. In school we’re taught to give the “correct” answer. And when we’re grown, we’re too busy to take the time to seriously consider why we believe what we believe, why we hold the opinions we hold dearly. We’re too busy to really consider why we accept the facts we are given as true without pursuing the facts further (especially if they are provided by people we like).
Questions for thinking people, including you and your friends
Because I liked questions so much, when I designed my second website, LearningPlaceOnline, I created a section called “Questions for Thinking People.” When that site morphed into the early Support4Change website, those questions became part of a feature called “The Ask Yourself Questions Club.” There you could find questions to help you expand your horizons, strengthen your relationships, explore social and political issues, and deepen your faith and spirituality.
Then there was my second book, Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life, in which I stressed the importance of learning how to ask yourself questions — and how to recognize that you have more answers within yourself than you have imagined.
Now I have decided that the blog is a good place to ask many of these hundreds of questions. However, this time, I want to encourage you to ask yourself questions on a wide variety of topics and then share the questions, and your answers, with friends and family.
Asking questions in the first person
I could present the questions by asking, What do you think about such-and-such? But as I said in my book about questions, our brains go on automatic pilot when we are asked “what do you think about this?” Our neurons quickly scan through a database of answers and we seldom give a second thought to why we believe whatever our brains accept as true.
But when we ask ourselves in the first person, What do I think about such-and-such, we have to pause. To answer the question we’ve asked ourselves, we are more likely to go beyond the quick, simple answer and explore what lies behind it.
In fact, we can explore many layers to the answers we give to questions. What do I believe? Why do I believe this? Why do I believe that? And so on.
So if you like the idea of discovering questions you may never have thought to ask yourself, I encourage you to come to the blog and ask yourself questions on the last Monday of the month. You will discover that you will deepen your understanding of yourself and of the world.
Use “how” and “why” to challenge your most cherished assumptions
As you explore the questions you will find here each month, pay attention not only to what you believe is the best answer to a particular question, but why you believe it. Also, consider carefully how you have come to accept the knowledge on which you base your answer as “fact.” This exploration can be far more interesting—and much more enlightening—than simply declaring you believe one thing as opposed to another.
In other words, in this new feature of the Support4Change blog, I encourage you to stretch yourself, even though you may be challenging your most cherished assumptions.
Ask yourself these questions about “essential” questions in this first “questions post” for June 2013:
What questions do I believe are the three most important questions that humans can and should ask? Why?
What question is the least important? Why?
What is more revealing about an individual, the questions a person asks or the answers he or she gives?
After you consider your answers to these three questions, share both the questions and your answers with friends. When they have had time to offer their own answers, notice how and why their answers differ from yours? How do their answers expand your understanding of the other person? How do your answers help them understand you better?
I will be very glad to hear your response to this new feature of “Ask Questions of Yourself and Your Friends.”
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