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5 Questions You Should Avoid

5 Questions You Should Avoid

There are certain questions that will never have the answer you want or need. However, those are the questions that are possibly more likely to pop into our minds when we least expect it or when we’re having a difficult time. So, maybe rephrasing them could help? Stephen Guise of Dumb Little Man shares how you can do that:

Life causes us to question ourselves, but not all thoughts that come to mind are beneficial for us. In fact, many can be harmful and misleading.

Here are five of those undesirable questions that if you find yourself asking, you’d be wise to rephrase or reroute them. Subtle differences in phrasing can make a big impact in your mind.

1. Why Am I Here?

Whether you got to this moment by a failed marriage, back surgery, a lottery ticket, or by bus, it doesn’t matter for purposes moving forward. If you don’t like your situation, the only way out is found in solutions for the present moment, and “why am I here?” moves your mindset backwards, away from solutions.

There’s a better question that puts your focus in the present moment.

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Better Question: Where do I go from here?

Quote: “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn

2. Why Me?

This question sums up the victim’s mindset. The main reason you don’t want to be a victim is because victims only have things happen TO them. They can’t take charge and control the situation, because their focus is not on what they can do, but on what happens to them. Would the opposite of this question give the opposite mindset of a victim? Yes, ask yourself the opposite…

Better Question: Why not me? (This is the possibility question!)

Quote: “To the dumb question, ‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, ‘Why not?’” – Christopher Hitchens

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3. How Do I Lose Weight?

It doesn’t look bad, but it is secretly horrible. Asking this question frames the problem (being overweight) for a temporary solution. Unless you’re trying to make weight for your wrestling match, I doubt you want to lose weight and put it back on a month later. To explain why, here is the better question to tackle weight loss.

Better Question: Who do I need to be to weigh less?

This alternative question has an identity shift built into it as part of the solution, and these are the solutions that stick. Weight, after baseline genetic attributes, is a result of lifestyle, which stems from your identity. If you try to change with forced mechanical actions – like the answers to the question “how do I lose weight?” will lead you to do (exercise, eat vegetables, control portion size, etc) – your willpower will run out eventually.

“Who do I need to be?” changes the goal to an internal shift of values and habits that will automagically take you to a lower weight. It’s sustainable because you’ll have changed at the core level instead of forcing yourself to live against your established nature. To start the process of changing your identity, compare the benefits of a new identity to your current one. How would it be better? How would it be worse? Which do you like better overall?

“How do I lose weight?” makes you want the results, and “who do I need to be…” makes you want the change. When you want the change, you’ll get the results. When you only want the results, you’ll often end up with nothing.

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Quote: “You must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be.” – David Viscott

 4. Why Won’t Anyone Talk To Me?

Why won’t you talk to anyone else? If you want to talk to someone, it isn’t their responsibility to talk to you, but yours to talk to them. Every single conversation you have is either initiated by you or by someone else. If you never initiate conversation, it gives people the impression that you don’t want conversation.

A better, more productive question to ask yourself when you’re lonely is…

Better Question: Why don’t I go introduce myself to that person?

Quote: “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” – William Butler Yeats

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Bonus Quote: “Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.” – Shirley MacLaine

5. When Will I Finally Succeed?

To ask this question shows that you’re after the end result without caring about how you arrive at it. The “overnight success stories” you hear about are preceded by years of progress that you don’t hear about. Focus on becoming the type of person who would succeed. Focus on progress and you should find success eventually. But instead of thinking about success, here’s a better question…

Better Question: What small steps could I take today to move forward?

Quote: “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” – Jack Dixon

Stephen Guise: besides writing for his own blogs Stephen is a featured writer here at Dumb Little Man. Be sure to stop by Stephen’s ‘featured writer page’ right here on Dumb Little Man to find links to more of his articles.

5 Questions To NEVER Ask Yourself | Dumb Little Man

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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