“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
If you keep asking yourself the wrong questions, you will never get an answer you like.
So take a deep breath and stop asking…
1. “Why don’t they like me?”
The worst misery and loneliness is to feel unsure of yourself – like everyone else is ahead of you somehow. When you’re feeling insecure like this, you don’t notice the hundreds of people around you who accept you just the way you are. All you notice are the few who don’t.
Don’t let your insecurities bully you into a corner. Don’t be your own victim. Forget whether or not everyone else likes you, and focus on loving yourself more. Accept, define and believe in the person you are. For once you sincerely do, so will the rest of the people in your life who truly matter to you.
2. “What will they think?”
Here’s a wake-up call for you: When you’re worried about what others think of you, you’re really just worried about what you think of yourself.
At times you may flatter yourself indirectly by thinking that every little fault you see in yourself is also present in the minds of everyone around you, as if these people are constantly contemplating your personal strengths and weaknesses. But the truth is, 99.9% of the time, they aren’t.
And regardless of whether others are judging you or not, you can’t control what they think. The only thing you can control is yourself. Some people will look down on you for your decisions in life no matter what they are. You can’t do anything about that. The only thing you can do is live in such a way that brings peace to your own heart and mind. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
3. “What’s missing?”
Sometimes your biggest source of unhappiness comes from the fact that you keep thinking about where else you could be or who else you would like to become, rather than appreciating where you are and who you are now, and how far you’ve come to make this moment true.
In other words, much of what you call “unhappiness” is really just dissatisfaction as a result of overlooking the beautiful aspects of your life that you take for granted every day. So how about you flip this question around and ask yourself: “What do I have now that I will miss when it’s gone?”
4. “What if I’m not good enough?”
A fear of being defeated is what warrants your defeat. A fear of not being good enough is what guarantees that you never will be.
If you never pick up that keyboard, or pencil, or paintbrush, or whatever instrument you use to craft your work, because you’re afraid that someone else might do it better than you, your prediction will automatically come true. Remember, defeat is not the worst of failures. Not having tried at all is as bad as it gets.
And as far as failure itself is concerned, you’re not obligated not to fail. You’re obligated to keep trying – to do the best you can do every day. That’s all. And you’re always good enough to do that. (Read Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.)
5. “How can I possibly move on?”
You CAN live without the people and situations of the past. Period.
Life is change. People and circumstances really do come and go every day. Some stay in our lives longer than others, but everything eventually ends – it’s the cycle of life. This is how it’s supposed to be.
If someone or something comes into your life and has a positive impact on you, but for some reason things change, don’t mourn for too long. Be thankful that your paths crossed and that that you got the chance to experience something wonderful while it lasted. Just because it ended, doesn’t make it any less amazing.
And remember, when one positive light in your life burns out, don’t use it as an excuse to shield yourself from all the other sources of light shining around you. Continue to appreciate what you have now, and smile about the memories. (Angel and I discuss this process of letting go and moving on in the Adversity chapter of 1000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
6. “Why me?”
If you think that only a privileged few have the ability to live a great life, you are sabotaging yourself. You are privileged – to be alive – to have this opportunity.
If every morning you wake up and say, “Yes, today is going to be a great day.” And every afternoon you find a reason to say, “Yes, today is a great day.” And every night you find a reason to say, “Yes, today was a great day.” Then one day, many moons from now, you’ll look back, smile at the memories and say, “Yes, I lived a great life!”
Be the one of the valiant few who looks at their dreams and says, “WHY NOT ME?” and then goes for it!
The floor is yours…
What would you add to the list? What negative questions do you sometimes ask yourself? Please leave a comment below and let us know.
Photo by: Jan Faborsky
Once again, thought provoking, but also what I needed this to read. Thank you 🙂
Ezati Eric says
This post was meant for me this morning. I really appreciate it, thanks very much…
Thank you very much for sharing. Its a pleasure to read your uplifting blog. Always makes my day.
Thanks a lot for this blog. I really needed it right now. Sometimes I feel like the world is falling down on me because I’m always feeling depressed and devastated. Please Marc, I really need to talk to you guys in private. How can reach reach you?
A very great post hey. It’s more like people asking this questions are condemning themselves. They fail to realize the potential and the positive part of their being here on earth. I worked on a similar post on my blog (linked above).
Dave Goettsch says
Very well written article. Anytime I am helping someone solve a problem or achieve a goal I get them to start asking the right questions. To me the simplest way to break it down is that instead of asking ourselves why all of the time, we need to start asking why not? This article explained the dark side of the question we ask ourselves all too often, “Why?”
Thanks for the great info!
Excellent post, just on time for me. Thank you!
My kryptonite question lately is something like: “could I be right?” or “can this be really happening?” Whenever I feel inspired to take action [and risk] again I get these doubts about whether I could really accomplish something that great or am I special enough to succeed… I guess it’s a variation of question #4.
What i realized lately is that too often these thoughts come after talking to certain people that are close to me. I work on projects and one I made two years ago backfired a little bit. Nothing awful, but it just demanded much more time and money than was planned. Now every time I share my ideas with people around me [friends and family, fortunately not my coworkers] I get this look like I’m delusional and a polite silence [its quite comical in a way].
I’m working hard on establishing my sense of self value independently of what is considered normal or within reach by others. Any tips on how to do that?
Thank You. I appreciate your words and thoughts here.
@Inspiring Citizen Rafi: I completely agree with you. If you ask yourself, “How can I move on?” with the goal of finding a positive solution, that is progress. Too many of us use the question as a crutch: “How can I possibly move on?” with no intentions of finding an answer. That slight twist of removing “possible” brings a positive light to the question.
@Cornelius: Reminds me of this quote by Brain Tracy: “Failure is a prerequisite for great success. If you want to succeed faster, double your rate of failure.”
@Vivo: So flip the questions around and start asking yourself: “What do I have now that I will miss when it’s gone?” “Why not me?” – and then go for it! =)
@Renee: Great input, thank you!
@Debbie: You are absolutely right, “What if….?” can play havoc on your mind. Change the question to one with a positive outlook. Instead of saying “if” say “when.” “When I get that promotion…”
@Catherine: Thank you for allowing us to play a part. =) Congratulations!
@Amandah: Yes! Week after week, I am simply blown away by your insight. Great input!
@Sheila: I like your style. There’s always a way to put a positive twist on the questions we ask ourselves.
@Rowan: Good ole hindsight. =)
@DW: Life is too short to punish yourself. Accept that mistakes will happen. You are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your tomorrow. No matter how chaotic the past has been, the future is a clean, fresh, wide open space. What you do with it is up to you.
@Threeinone: I tried emailing you earlier today, but I received a bounce-back from your email address. Not sure if you entered the wrong one. Honestly though, if depression is something you are aware you are dealing with, seeking our a professional who can help you sort through some of these issues is something I highly recommend. My heart goes out to you. Take it slow, and please stay strong.
@maga: The Self-Love and Happiness chapters of our book cover this. Also check out: 14 Rules for Being YOU
@All: I’ll leave you with this tip to consider:
Be aware of your mental self-talk. We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us. Start listening to your thoughts. If you hear negative questions, stop and replace them with positive, thought provoking, productive ones.
And as always, thank you for your continuous support and inspiration.
That’s great! Inspiring! I feel like you are talking directly to me with this post.
Thanks and I wish all the best for you two.
@Marc: Thank you!
Thank you Marc and Angel. I struggle with this one a lot, but after reading this I feel more optimistic. Keep up your wonderful advice, it really helps 🙂
Another great post! Keep them coming.
I relate to #2. For so long I sought people’s approval of what I did. Until not too long ago, when I decided to do thing just because I want to without focusing so much on what people think.
I think #3 could be either good or bad, depending on why the question is being asked. I think its a good question when the motive is to improve on an already established process.
Thanks for providing a platform where folks can learn a few things to improve quality of life make it worth living.
“Not having tried at all is as bad as it gets.” This is SO true! There are so many people out there (myself included) who have a mindset that they simply cannot do something before they ever even tried it! If you don’t try, how do you know you will not succeed?
Heather W says
This is me with a capital M. I worry constantly about what others think and why people “dump me” as friends or lash out and get abusive when we used to be so close. I was just telling hubby tonight that I am best at failing, since I feel like that’s all I do. This post is a good one and it’s one I definitely needed to read.. and one that I will bookmark for repeated reading.
Aaron Needham says
Becoming your own best friend and loving yourself is one of the most powerful things you can do. Each morning and evening for a period of time I stood in front of the mirror and said “I love Myself” 20 times. Doing that small thing made a huge difference to my life. If you try it and it feels awkward to begin with you most probably have an underlying belief that you do not love yourself otherwise it wouldn’t feel awkward. Try doing this for 30 days and over time it becomes the new belief you hold, it will allow you to move through life backing yourself instead of always putting yourself down and being hesitant. Much love, Aaron
4. “If you never pick up that keyboard, or pencil, or paintbrush, or whatever instrument you use to craft your work, because you’re afraid that someone else might do it better than you, your prediction will automatically come true.”
What to do if that prediction has already come true? But you no longer have time to learn/start from scratch because you’re bogged down by other things which take up a majority of your time…
I recently came across this article, and I love it. I keep coming back to it so often, I really should put these on a card and laminate it. thank you for sharing and for the positive spin on the questions.
This was beautiful and something I am strongly with. Especially #5 at the moment. I meant someone truly wonderful and amazing, but he is moving back home, which is cross country. I am upset and wondering why when good people come into my life they leave. I will cherish the short time that we spent together.
Who knows, maybe our paths will cross one day.
Today I seem to be asking myself about “what is the point in doing anything?” I feel really lonely today and I keep asking this to myself. I try to ask my friends and family of they are free this weekend but everybody is busy, like they were last week. I know that people have there own things to do in life and that not everything they do has to involve me too. But this doesn’t stop my from feeling lonely and depressed. What could I do about this to help myself to not feel like this?