What was that guy’s name again?
Have you ever tried to remember a person’s name, a song or movie title? You’ve probably thought, “I know what it is. What is that darn name?” But it escapes you?
So you move on with your day. It isn’t that important anyway so why dwell on it, right?
Then out of the blue, minutes or hours later, the answer popped into your head? You weren’t even thinking about it anymore, but there it was. You might have even texted the person you had been speaking with to let them know you remembered it.
I’ve done that. Many times. You are not the only one.
Subconscious and conscious processing – You have both, and you must direct both in order to achieve.
When I was introduced to this topic, I heard an analogy that made it easy to understand. Your conscious brain is like a computer screen. Whatever is actively in your awareness is in your conscious thinking, just like a computer screen shows what is actively being worked on.
Your subconscious brain is like the computer. Even when you don’t have things displayed on screen, the computer is still running and processing. Your subconscious mind continues to process even when you are not consciously thinking about what it is processing.
Therefore, when you ask your conscious brain, “What was that guy’s name?” and don’t receive an answer right away, your subconscious continues to process even after you’ve moved on. When it finds the answer, it shoves it to the surface – onto your screen – and that’s when you send the text to your friend… it was Paul Rudd who did This is the End and I Love You, Man.
One way to direct subconscious processing is to ask questions.
We all ask ourselves questions. Many of us just don’t realize it until it is pointed out to us.
The problem is that it takes awareness of the questions we ask in order to make sure we’re asking good questions. Remember how someone told you once that there are no dumb or wrong questions? Well that was dumb and wrong.
I am not calling the person who said it dumb, but the statement kind of is.
Usually when someone says, “there are no dumb questions,” it is because they want you to know that you can ask anything and they won’t judge it. They also want you to not judge your own question before asking, and possibly deem it not worthy to ask. The reasoning behind the statement is noble, and I totally stand behind its intent. However, they should just say, “ask me anything and I will answer it without judgment”, because the fact is that some questions are bad.
What is a bad question? What is a good question?
The answer lies in the way the question will direct your subconscious.
What difference do you see between these two questions?
- Why don’t people like me?
- How can I be more likable?
Remember how the subconscious continues to work on the answer when you ask it to recall a person’s name? It does the same thing for other questions. So if you ask yourself, “Why don’t people like me?” your subconscious might shoot some answers back that seem fitting based on anything you’ve considered about yourself previously. It might answer, “Because you are lazy” or “Because you aren’t funny” or “Because you don’t show up when you say you will, and instead, show up late” or something similar.
Why would you ever ask a question that can only lead to negative answers? Booooooo – bad, dumb, wrong question. That’s the kind of question that is not only unhelpful, it can actually be harmful to you.
Try the other question – How can I be more likable?
What sort of answers might that shoot back? How about, “Just be who you are, because people like authenticity,” or “You can express interest in them so they feel liked by you,” or “You can smile more and express confidence through your body language.” In Tim Sanders’ Book, The Like Ability Factor, he talks about friendliness, realness, and connecting with other people’s interests as ways to boost your likability.
To review, a bad question is one that can be answered with negative or hurtful responses. A good question, sometimes referred to as a quality question, is one that will be answered with positive or helpful information. If the information isn’t implementable, it isn’t really useful. There is not action to take in an answer like, “you are lazy”. There is an actionable suggestion in an answer such as, “You can smile more”.
Let’s look at a few more examples.
Bad Question: Why do my grades suck?
Good Question: What can I do to get better grades?
Bad Question: Why am I always broke?
Good Question: What can I do or learn to be better at managing money?
Bad Question: Why do I feel like the only one who doesn’t know what she
wants to do with her life?
Good Question: Who could I talk to who might be able to help me figure out
what I want to work toward in the future?
How to begin asking better questions
The first thing to do is to be mindful of the types of questions that naturally pop into your mind. Be aware of them. Are they good, quality questions or are they bad, possibly harmful questions.
Next, whenever you think of a bad question, replace it immediately with a better one. Think of a way to reword the question for a more positive subconscious search.
Last, consciously ask yourself quality questions throughout the day and right before you go to bed. If there is something particular you are working on at the time such as a project, a school paper, or a personal goal, write down a few quality questions related to that subject. Then ask yourself those questions at least a couple of times a day. If you write down three questions, then rotate them. You don’t have to ask all three at the same time.
The question I’m asking myself right now is, “What questions do my readers have and how can I be even more helpful to them?”
If you have an answer for me, I’d love to hear it. Is there a question you have or a topic you’d like to hear about? If so, leave it in the comments or go to Ask Amiee and send it to me.
Also, if you liked this and know of someone else who could benefit, please share it with him or her by clicking on one of the social media icons. Until next time, stay awesome!