Amanda: Hey guys. Welcome back to the podcast. I am Amanda.
Laura: I'm Laura.
Kendra: and I'm Kendra.
Amanda: And today we are going to talk about asking better questions. Kendra, take us away.
Kendra: Yes. So asking better questions. What does that mean exactly? Sometimes they can be powerful questions that move us to change. Sometimes they can be negative questions that keep us stuck. But I would say when we start to evaluate the types of questions we're asking in different situations, it really can either cause us to continue to stay stuck or actually empower us to move forward. We wanna talk to you a little bit about the types of questions you're currently asking. So one of the things that we learn in coaching is to ask some provocative questions that are open-ended to allow for our partners to think about exactly where a thought comes from or where maybe past experiences have led us to create our current results. One of the most powerful questions to actually open the mind and allow us to start to get curious is the question, why? Sometimes when we're going through life on autopilot, we take into consideration some programming we have from our childhood, either from the way we were raised, maybe programming from our parents, maybe our church, maybe our school, our neighborhood, whatever it is. But we do not continue to question it as we move into our adulthood. We consider the circumstances that we have as facts and the thoughts we have are not able to be changed, but that is actually not true. So, the examples of what we have currently, or are current results, are a result of the thoughts that we have. Not, what do I wanna say, interrogated or asked why. We create what we do and don't have in life based on what questions we've asked. So, it's really not about blaming your current situation, but more let's start becoming more aware and taking responsibility for the interrogation of our life, our past experiences, our limiting beliefs, whatever, so that we can be more empowered. So an example is you continue to complain, maybe, about the emergency department you work in or the hospital system you work for, but you actually chose that job because it's closer to your house. The commute is short, it's convenient. There's not a lot of traffic, whatever. But every day you go to work, you actually have feelings of dread because you are unhappy or unsatisfied with this job. And you continue to go because your manual for the place is it should change, but it never does. And every time you show up, you continue to be unhappy. However you chose to continue to show up. You continue to choose the job because it's a great commute or it's a short commute, or it's convenient, whatever, but you actually can choose to ask why did I take this job in the first place? And when it's something about the commute or when it's something about being convenient, you can start to ask, well, that's not serving me anymore and choose to actually get a different job. Yes. It may be a further commute, but when you get there, you don't have, I mean, on the way there, you don't have feelings of dread. And when you get there, you're actually okay about being there for the 9, 10, 11, 12-hour shift that you have. And in the end you feel more fulfilled and you feel like you're actually empowered because you chose that job and you chose to be there. And so your question, your questions now are a result of you choosing. We want to frame questions. So they actually pull out a desired result or an answer. You ask high quality empowering questions to provoke creative and inspiring answers. On the flip side, we want to avoid these ANTS. I've heard several people talk about ANTS, these automatic negative thoughts. That's the acronym, A- N- T. Negative thoughts, ask negative questions. Thus, you get negative answers. So you have these negative thoughts of dread about going to work. Thus, you have never challenged that thought because it is exactly how you thought it was gonna be. When you get there, it's a drag. There's not enough help. You can't get turnaround time, whatever. And thus you have negative answers. See, this job is horrible. The only thing I like about it is it only takes me 15 minutes to get there. I've never challenged myself enough to look for what else is out there, whatever it may be. So when we start to address these automatic negative thoughts, and actually start to question or interrogate where they come from, then we can kind of turn the tide, start asking why and start getting an empowered answer instead of just one that we feel like we have no control over.
Amanda: I think a good example of this is like, if you're asking yourself, I wonder how this could go wrong? You are asking your brain to find all of the evidence for how it can go wrong. A much better question would be, I wonder how I'm going to make this work? That switches your focus and it's gonna be, it’s too easy for your brain to find all of the ways that it could go wrong. What a much better use of your brain energy is to find how it's going to go right. We'll probably link to this. But I love, I just love this video. It's Simon Sinek. I don't know how you say his last name, but it's S I N E K. He's like, how you ski through trees is you focus on the path. Whenever you're telling yourself don't hit a tree, don't hit a tree, don't hit a tree. You will hit a tree cuz it's all you're focused on. But if you ask, if you tell yourself, focus on the path, keep your eye on the snow. That's how you make it through there because you're focused on that. So instead of saying how, how is everything going wrong? Ask yourself, how am I going to, how am I gonna get through this? Or how am I gonna fix this? Or what's the solution here? So much better!
Laura: Yes. It's so important to focus on making the questions that we ask quality questions and it's, I think it's so funny, cuz sometimes we ask these questions out loud. I hear this a lot at work. Why is this person here? Why do they come in for an ingrown toenail? Why, why, why? We ask some, some why questions to ourselves? And it's important to pay attention to how we're asking them. If we're asking questions, like why do I always do that? Or why do I have to do this? Or why me, or why can't I make it work? And they're emotionally charged. They are not going to be helpful questions. They're going to help us find more evidence for why, why we aren't making it work. So if we're asking a why question and it feels emotionally charged. It's good to pay attention to that and reframe it just like Amanda was talking about. So, instead of, why do I always lose my keys? Instead, say, how am I going to keep up with my keys? How am I going to make sure I don't spend time looking for things that are lost. Why do I have to do this? I am choosing everything. We're choosing everything we do. We talked about that last podcast. Everything we're doing is a choice. I am choosing this. What would it look like if I chose something different? So, just focusing on the quality of the questions we're asking ourselves will help us get better results in our lives. And then, checking the answers. I don't know. This is not an answer that we want to accept from ourselves. I don't know blocks our wisdom and closes down our problem solving abilities and keeps us in the state of not knowing the answers to our questions. Our brains are lazy and they like to stay in the cave on the couch watching Netflix. So, if we are saying…It's safe. That's right. That primitive brain job is to keep us alive. If something feels hard, it doesn't wanna think about it. It doesn't want to come up with a new way through or around a problem. It wants to avoid responsibility and it wants us to blame others for the problems we are having. So, if we come up with those emotionally charged, “why me?”- kind of questions. Ask instead something like, I wonder… or I'm learning… or what would it look like if… and if the answer to something is, I don't know. Maybe ask, what if I did know, or what would I tell my child If they asked me this question? Taking a guess oftentimes is the thing that allows our brain to open up to new thoughts and see potential solutions that we might not have seen before. And it's okay to be wrong. Being wrong is doing something. It's better than doing nothing and saying, I don't know. At least when we're wrong, when we fail, we can learn something and evolve in that way. So, an example might be, I work in the pediatric emergency department. One of my partners, it breaks my heart because I see the exhaustion she feels with these patients and their parents continually asking, why do these patients come in with cold symptoms to the emergency department? If there was ever a more futile question to ask…I can’t think of one. Yeah, you do it. But the answer there's, it's not like, is that gonna help you have a better shift?
Amanda: No, no, no. The answer is because they like to come here, like what do you want?
Laura: That's right. Yeah. It's completely and coming to other people with judgment, instead of curiosity is always gonna, it's going to drain us. It's gonna drain our energy. Yeah. And it's gonna rob us of joy.
Amanda: For 20 years I've been working in the ER, they have continued to do this. So it seems like a futile question. We like to talk about confusion is an indulgent emotion. It seems very useful. It seems like the answer except for it just keeps you stuck. The only way you're gonna know is if you just do something and find out you'll either go on the right way or you'll at least figure out what not to do. But confusion. I don't know. That’s not allowed.
Amanda: So, how do we change our questions? We will link to Dr. Caroline Leaf's podcast with Lori Gottlieb. She is talking about her book, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” and they talk about the phases that you go through on the way to changing your questions or really any behavior. So the first stage is pre-contemplation. It's just below the surface where you don't realize that you're getting that sort of sense, but like something is buzzing below the surface, but you don't yet have a conscious realization about it. Next is the contemplation stage where you realize that, “oh, I think I have a desire to change” that comes into your conscious awareness. After the contemplation stage, where you're just thinking about it, then that's where you can move. And once you've thought about it enough, and that's where a lot of us stay stuck is just considering it. Preparation stage is the next step where you start to plan your change. What would I need to do? What do I need to, you know, get in place for me to make this change, and then you can take action. You do the thing to make the change. There is an illustration of the lobster. There's a lot of really fascinating things about lobsters. Molting its shell and growing a new one is an incredibly dangerous time for a lobster. It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of energy, and they're unbelievably vulnerable.They don't just crawl into a new shell. They have to generate it themselves. So for a period of time, they're completely defenseless. So what triggers the lobster to actually undergo this is they become so uncomfortable in their shell. That it becomes worth it for them to risk it and to make the change for themselves. So, this is totally random, but the precontemplation stage for the lobster would just be like, just like not being completely aware, but like starting to get that little itch of things are getting a little bit tight in here but not allowing it into the consciousness. Contemplation stage would be when the lobster's like, okay, this thing is way too tight. We're gonna have to do something about it. Preparation stage, like maybe I should look around and see where there's a rock or a safe place for me to molt. And, and then the action is actually going and doing the thing. I know that's super random, but the funny thing is that we buffer that feeling of discomfort. We take an ativan and we drink some alcohol to distract ourselves with social media or whatever, from that discomfort. When that discomfort sometimes is just there under the surface to tell you it's time to grow. I don't know. I’m obsessed with lobsters. Okay. Totally random side story. Anyway, you do those things. Pre contemplation, contemplation, preparation stage, take action. Then, there's the maintenance stage. All right. Maintaining the change once you've made it. During this stage, you should expect that sometimes there will be hard days and sometimes there will be easy days. Some days you will fail and you will fall. It's in these moments that what you need the most is self-compassion, not to rip yourself apart. And we tend to be so good at ripping ourselves apart and like, see, I knew I would never do it. No, self-compassion is what you need. You cannot hate yourself into loving yourself. It doesn't make any sense. Self-compassion and grace is what we want to start practicing instead of the opposite. Rather than feeling shame for the failing, give yourself grace so that you can pick yourself up and continue trying. Here's me when I'm all or nothing about, this is in the past when I used to do crazy diets, but like if I would, if I would, break whatever my plan was for eating that day. Then the shame and the guilt and the just “screw this” attitude would kick in and then I would eat everything in the pantry. Completely derail. Right? So if you did not bring that level of judgment in with you, what would that look like? You would just start over it. Wouldn't be such a big thing. You probably would do better by giving yourself compassion rather than the criticism. Change for all of us is hard and unfamiliar and it takes letting go of the narratives of the past. Your ideas and beliefs were built on information that you had in the past. You can let go of the shame. You're moving forward and you can learn from the experiences and discover answers and unlock the truth. Even if this wasn't the way to do it. You've learned something and that actually is valuable. So this is why coaching is so helpful for this, just challenging whatever limiting beliefs, whatever unuseful questions you're asking yourself. If you want to work with us, we are always happy to help. Probably the easiest way would be to go to our website, www.thewholephysician.com, at the very bottom, there is a place where you can sign up for our weekly well check. And I would say the reason why you wanna do that is because not only do we send you coaching principals each week, but sometimes we have secret sales that are unadvertised and you can get in on some of the new things that we're doing. Also, by the time this podcast airs, our CME course should be up and live. So you'll wanna go check that out if you wanna use some of your CME for topics like this. I know, I wish that I had done this earlier in my career. It would've changed the course quite a bit. And so if that's something that you're considering, I would encourage you to go to our website. But give yourself grace, get up and keep going!
Kendra: Yeah, I would say you don't wanna miss out on that. Definitely go to our website and sign up, at least, for our weekly well check. It's great content delivered directly to your inbox and you will also get these secret, special codes for deep discounts on not only one-on-one coaching. But we occasionally discount our CME course that will be live once this podcast airs. So we hope that today you have been given a little bit of perspective on asking better questions. Maybe you have developed some programming from childhood and it's just time to start challenging it and start questioning it. Let's ask better questions. Let's empower ourselves to now know that the results we have in our life is because we choose. And we are going to use the stages of precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance to just make some better questions and therefore, better results. Until next time, you are whole, you are a gift to medicine and the work you do matters.