Episode 33: How to Increase Clarity With These Thought Provoking Questions

Do you feel stuck in indecision?

Are you confused or uncertain about what to do next?

Do you need clarity and direction in your life?

Then you’re in the right place, my friend.

Because this week is part two of our deep dive into increasing your clarity and self-awareness. And we are approaching this critical skill by asking ourselves thought-provoking questions. 

Yes, really. 

By asking yourself these simple – yet powerful – questions, you will increase your clarity around decision making. You will develop greater compassion and understanding for yourself and others. And you’ll uncover why you’re feeling stuck and how to take action.

(Did you miss part one? No worries! You can check it out here.) 

Sound good?

I thought so!

If you’re ready to finally experience clarity in all areas of your life, be sure to listen to this week’s podcast now. You can check out episode 33 on your favorite podcasting app or stream it below.

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling to read the entire transcript

Let’s go!

(Did you miss part one? No worries! You can check it out here.)

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…

  • The power of thought-provoking questions
  • Clarifying questions to help you make a decision
  • Powerful questions to gain compassion and understanding for yourself and others
  • Eye-opening questions to help you stop procrastinating and take action

LINKS FROM THE PODCAST

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QUESTION:

What are some of your favorite thought-provoking questions? How do you find clarity in your life? Let me know below!

(Transcript) How to Increase Clarity With These Thought Provoking Questions

Hey, friends! What’s happening? Have you been asking yourself lots of questions all week?

I know some of you have because I’ve been getting messages on Instagram about all the discoveries you’ve made about yourself and the thoughts that have been circling around in your mind on autopilot. And also the new thoughts that you’re practicing instead. And I love it.

So if you missed last week’s episode – episode 32 – or you’re new to the podcast overall, first of all, welcome! Second of all, this is part two of a two-part episode all about asking yourself powerful questions in order to increase your self-awareness, clarity, understanding, and your ability to take action when you’re stuck.  

And last week we took a deep dive into the power of asking questions. We talked about why it’s so beneficial to spend just 10-15 minutes a day turning inward with curiosity in order to uncover the thoughts that we seem to have on loop in our minds.

We explored how we can recognize whether those well-practiced thoughts and beliefs are actually serving us or not. And we discussed how you can find different thoughts to think if they’re not. And we focused specifically on strategies to help us gain a deeper understanding of our own self-awareness.

How to Increase Clarity With These Thought Provoking Questions

Now this week, we are going to take an even deeper dive into these powerful questions that can help you shift your perspective and “up your game.”

And to do that, we’re going to consider questions you can ask to gain clarity around making decisions. We are going to explore questions you can ask to help increase your understanding and compassion for both yourself and others. And we’re going to talk about powerful questions you can ask to help you start taking action any time you’re feeling stuck or unmotivated. 

How to Increase Clarity Around Decisions or Confusion

Now, we’re going to start today’s episode with a focus on clarity. And more specifically, we’re going to talk about what can you ask yourself in order to create clarity when you’re feeling confused or you’re struggling to make a decision. 

And this is a big one, right? So many of us get stuck in confusion, and for some of us, it’s on a regular basis. We get overwhelmed by having to make decisions. We worried that will make the wrong decision. Or we worry that we will miss out on something incredible if we decide one option over another. The familiar fear of missing out.

Sneaky Thoughts

In fact, this is a topic that I coach on a lot with my clients, and it can be super sneaky. Because this confusion and indecision might not be around something that’s clearly negative. For instance, maybe they can’t decide what goal they should pursue first. Or maybe they don’t know whether to start that new business or begin a side hustle. Maybe they’re trying to decide whether to take a new job offer. In fact, I was just working with a client the other day who was trying to decide where to take her family for vacation over the summer. 

So whether it’s big decisions or small decisions. Whether it’s exciting scenarios or things that we’re worried about. We all deal with decision making. And what’s more, many of us struggle with confusion around that decision-making process. 

In fact, this is where that terribly unuseful thought – I don’t know – comes up most often. 

Just think about how frequently this innocent thought cycles through your brain. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know the best decision to make. What if I make the wrong decision? How will I know if it’s the right decision? What if I regret it? What if I fail? Or what if it doesn’t turn out right? And on and on and on. 

So many of us get stuck spinning out in this indecision. We flip flop back and forth with the pros and the cons and we never take a stance. And let me tell you, I know how exhausting that is. I know how frustrating that is. And in fact, I still find myself falling into that trap every once in a while. 

But when I do, I turn to the questions we’re going to talk about next in order to help me get that clarity once again. So let’s talk about them.

What am I thinking?

Now, if you are struggling with indecision or you’re feeling confused and you’re trying to make a decision, I think it’s incredibly helpful to think back to the last episode and start by simply asking yourself, what am I thinking?

As I mentioned before, this is such a powerful question because it helps you tune in. It gets you increasing your self-awareness and paying attention to those thoughts swirling around in your head. So start out by asking yourself “what am I thinking?” and get your thoughts down on paper.

Once you’ve done that step, and you’ve taken a look at your thoughts, and you’ve recognized all of the confusion and flip-flopping and conflict going on in your brain, then it’s time to take the next step. It’s time to try out these questions to help you gain some clarity. And I have several different questions that you can try, so you can use the ones that fit best for your situation.

What Would Be Most Fun?

Now, the first question I like to ask myself when I’m trying to make a decision is this: “what would be most fun?” If I were to make a decision today, which option would be the most fun for me? Because honestly, if you’re not having fun, what’s the point, right? 

Now, this question might not work for everything. If you are debating between which tax person you’re going to work with this year, fun might not be the first word that comes to mind. Though, it could still apply if you’re thinking about who you most get along with, who will save you the most time so you can go out and have more fun or whatever. 

But regardless, I like to use this question a lot. For example, when I was debating between starting a podcast or just sticking to writing my blog, I asked myself: what would be more fun? And immediately, I knew that podcasting would be more fun. Decision made.

When I was deciding which courses I wanted to teach next fall, I asked myself: what would be the most fun? And I made my decision from that space because if I’m having fun, it’s going to be so much easier to share my enthusiasm and excitement for the topic to my students.

And by thinking about your situation through this different lens, and homing in on which decision would be more enjoyable and more fun, it is a great way to clean up your confusion and help you make a decision with confidence and clarity.

What if You Knew What to do?

Another question I love to ask myself when I am feeling confused over a decision is: “what if I knew exactly what to do? What would I do then?” 

And again, this is an area where your brain is going to want to say to you: “I don’t know.” 

But don’t let that happen. Make yourself answer the question because what you come up with is powerful. You do know what to do. You do know the decision. Or you know what is required of you to get more informed before making that decision.

So for example, I was working with someone a couple weeks ago about whether or not she should change jobs. She likes her current job. She feels confident in it. She’s making good money.

But she was also offered another position in the same company. It has a completely different job title and she’d be in a different office. Plus, she’d be making a bit more money. And she was stuck in indecision about whether or not to take the job. She was weighing the pros and cons. She was going back and forth about what to do. And she couldn’t decide.

And when I asked her: “what would be the most fun?” She still got stuck. She still went back and forth finding the benefits of both options. So then I asked her, “what if you knew exactly what to do? Then what would you do?” And of course, her brain immediately went to: “I don’t know. That’s why I’m stuck right now.” 

But after she took some time and really thought about it, she realized she did know what to do. And she realized that she wanted to take the new job. She wanted to step into this new opportunity. She wanted to expand her skill set. And she wanted to continue developing in her profession. 

What Would My Future Self Do?

And that actually aligns with one of the next questions that I like to ask myself when I’m stuck in indecision, and that is the question: “what would my future self do?” I absolutely love to look ahead to my future self 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now. I love to ask her, “what should I do in this position?” 

Because when you think of yourself that far into the future, and you imagine what you’re doing, the career you’re in, the money you’re making, where you’re living, etc. you have that bird’s eye view.

You are able to take that step back and see which decision is best for you right now, which will help you reach that far off goal in the future. I am telling you, “future you” is incredibly wise. So seriously, check in with her often. And especially when you’re feeling confused.

What if Both Decisions Are Perfect?

The next question I love to ask myself and my clients when we are stuck in indecision is this: “what if both decisions are perfect? Then what would you choose?” ” If you could be incredibly happy in both scenarios. If you could reach every goal, feel incredibly fulfilled, make as much money as you want to, whatever it is, what option would you choose?” 

Now, I love this question. And I love it so much because it removes all of the extra baggage that’s making it difficult to make your decision. It removes all of the “what ifs,” the unknowns, and the fears. And instead, it allows you to make a decision from a place of clarity.

I asked this question to that same client who was debating between her job choices: If she knew that she could be perfectly happy and fulfilled with either job choice, which one would she choose? 

And this question helped further reinforce her decision that she wanted to take the new position. Because one of the things that was holding her back was whether she be happy in the new role. She didn’t know whether she would be able to do it well. She didn’t know if she’d like her new colleagues. And she didn’t know if she’d be successful with the new responsibilities.

But when we remove all of those concerns, and we think to ourselves, “if I know I will be happy with either situation because I get to choose how I feel, and I determine the results in my life, which one would I choose?” you’re able to make a decision from that point of clarity. 

You Don’t Have to Act Immediately

And I also want to note that just because you make the decision, it doesn’t mean you have to act right away. I was working someone a few weeks ago about whether or not she wants to move back to her home state so she can live closer to her family. She was incredibly torn about what she should do because she has her house and her friends and her job where she is currently living, but she also wants to be closer to her parents and brothers. 

And when I asked her what she would do if she knew that she’d be super happy either way, she immediately knew that she would move back to her home state. But she also knew — by checking in with her future self —  that she wasn’t going to do it right away. Instead, she was going to look for new jobs where she’d be moving. She’d do research on where she wants to live specifically. She wanted to finish out the fiscal year at her current job. 

So just because you make that decision, doesn’t mean it has to be done right away. Instead, it just gives you clarity, it gets rid of the overwhelming indecision that keeps you feeling stuck, and it lets you move forward.

Do You Like Your Reasons?

And the last question that I love to ask when thinking about decision making is this: “do I like my reasons for making this decision?” This is one of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself when you’re making a decision. Because if you don’t like your reasons for why you’re doing something, that’s a great indicator to check in with yourself. Tune in to what’s going on in your brain and reassess the situation.

Because oftentimes we make decisions out of fear. Or we make decisions based on our uncertainty and the unknown. Many of us make decisions about whether we do or don’t do something in order to please someone else. As a recovering people pleaser, this is a big one for me.

People Pleasing

In fact, for years as I worked through grad school and early on in my career, I said yes to everything. In fact, that’s what I was told to do by all of my mentors and people who had been in my shoes before me. And the message I got was: when you say yes to everything, you show that you are flexible. You’re agreeable. You’re a team player. Etc. 

And sure, that might be true on one level. But it’s also not honest. As Brooke Castillo so delicately puts it, people pleasers are liars. Because they’re doing things they don’t want to do in hopes of pleasing other people. 

But again, we can’t control other people. We can’t control what people think or how they feel or how they act. That all stems from their own thoughts. 

And I found that when I agreed to serve on different committees, or give talks at various events, or volunteer for this thing or that thing, and I truly didn’t want to do it, it felt awful. I did it with reluctance. I did it with a bit of bitterness. And I was miserable throughout the entire time. Because I felt like I had to do it

But of course, as we talked about back in episode 30, you don’t have to do anything, right? It’s all your choice. Unfortunately, I hadn’t learned this lesson yet. And I truly felt like I had to do it. My sister called it “being voluntold” to do something. 

You’ve had that happen, right? You’ve been asked -slash – told to do something and you feel like you have to do it? It feels awful. And it feels so awful because you don’t have your own back. And you don’t know how to say no. This reminds me, that I definitely need to do an episode on the importance of saying no and how to say no. So mental note; I want to do that.

But for now, I want to focus on liking your reasons. 

Decision Making and Liking Your Reasons

So, a few weeks ago, I received an email from someone at work asking if I would lead a five-day seminar in the middle of May. It was the week immediately after my sister-in-law is getting married out of state, and I would have had to race back, and do a whole bunch of prep work beforehand, and I just wasn’t excited about it. 

I knew that I would not be as present and excited and enjoying the wedding week if I was preoccupied with this seminar. Plus, I just didn’t want to do it. But nevertheless, I was still going back and forth. Because it was one of those things that I felt I “should” do.

And even though I know I can’t impact people’s emotions, my lower brain was still telling me: they’re going to be so disappointed! They’re going to be upset with you. You need to do this. You need to make sure that you’re saying yes to every opportunity.

But when I stepped back and ask myself: “if I say yes, do I like my reasons for saying yes?” That help me get incredibly clear. Because the reality was that I did not like my reasons. My reasons we’re all about people-pleasing. My reasons were all about controlling other people. And my reasons were fear-based, which is not how I choose to live my life. And when I identified that truth, it made my decision crystal clear.

Decision Making Questions Recap

So again, as you are working through decisions or you’re seeking clarity on whether you do or don’t do something, I encourage you to ask yourself any of these questions. 

First, figure out what you’re thinking by doing a thought download. 

Then, ask yourself what would be the most fun? 

What if you knew exactly what to do? what would you do then? 

Or what would your future self tell you to do? 

If both decisions are absolutely perfect – if you would be thrilled and happy and fulfilled in either decision, what would you choose? 

And finally, do you like your reasons for making that decision?

Questions for Understanding and Compassion

Now, another powerful area to ask yourself questions is in the area of relationships. And more specifically, when you’re seeking understanding and compassion for either yourself or others.

So let’s say you have a colleague who you wouldn’t normally choose to spend your time with. Perhaps they make comments you don’t like. Maybe they talk over you all the time. Whatever it is. 

When I find myself in a situation like this, one of the questions I love to ask myself is: how do I want to show up in this situation? How do I want to show up even if he talks over me? How do I want to show up if he makes this comment?” 

By taking time to ask yourself this question, it allows you to think into the future. You can plan ahead of time and act from a place of certainty and clear-headedness. And let’s be honest, this is not always as easy in the moment. So by taking a second and asking yourself this question ahead of time, you set yourself up for success so that you show up in the way you want to.

How is This Perfect?

Another question I like to ask myself during challenging situations is “how is this situation perfect?” I love this question for a lot of reasons, but I find that it’s especially helpful when I’m in a frustrating or challenging situation. And I also use it a lot when I might otherwise give myself a hard time or beat myself up over something. And I’ll give you an example that happened just recently. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was holding a few webinars about mastering your motivation, and I was using the zoom platform for hosting. And it was the first time that I had used it for running a webinar. And I gave my first webinar ever on that platform, and although there was a bit of a learning curve, things went relatively well. 

After clicking around a bit, I was able to share my screen. And I eventually figured out how to find the comments and Q&A box so I could answer the questions from the webinar attendees, that kind of thing. However, when I hit “end session” for everyone at the end of the webinar, I had that sinking realization that I forgot to hit record for the webinar. 

And of course, I had planned to send out that webinar recording as a replay to everybody who had signed up. But I couldn’t because I didn’t hit record. And not surprisingly, I was a bit frustrated. 

Gaining a New Perspective

But a couple of days later, after I had done all of the different webinars and I sent out the replay from a different call instead, I was able to step back and ask myself: how was this perfect? And I was able to answer that question, which gave me a new perspective as well as a bit of compassion. 

I was able to remind myself that it was my first time using this software, and things went relatively well overall. I also realized it was perfect in that I learned something incredibly valuable, and I now know to check and double-check that I’ve hit record every time I open up that webinar platform. 

And what’s more, because I had already practiced with the software on Wednesday’s webinar, and I knew how to share my slides more seamlessly, everything seemed to go a bit smoother on Thursday. I was able to see all of the comments from everybody right away rather than search around for them.

And so when I sent out the replay, I was able to send Thursday’s version, which went a little bit more smoothly. So was it what I originally intended? No. But there are moments of perfection in there. And by asking myself how it was perfect, I was able to find them.

Can I Think About This in Another Way?

Another question I like to ask is is it possible to think about this in another way? This is a really powerful thought — again, at any time — but I really like it when we are seeking understanding either for ourselves or for another person. Maybe you’re convinced an acquaintance of yours and blew you off at a friend’s cocktail party. 

Let’s say you just arrived, and you went to go talk to a circle of people who were having a conversation. And when you said hello, that person left the circle immediately without acknowledging you. 

Now, if you’re like me, your brain probably goes into the worst-case scenario. What did I do wrong? What’s their problem? What did I say? How come they just blew me off? But these are the types of questions that are not helpful. These are the questions your brain likes to focus on because it went immediately goes to freakout mode. It immediately goes to — something’s wrong with me, or something’s wrong with them, or both. 

But what if it’s neither of those situations? And to help me consider this perspective, I love to ask: “is it possible to think about this in another way?” “What else might be going on here?”

Because when I ask myself this question, I start seeing other possibilities. Maybe they were leaving before they even saw me. Maybe their phone started ringing and they needed to answer it. Perhaps they had to run to the restroom. Maybe they were just going to get another drink. Who knows?

But I do know it’s not serving me to think that there’s something wrong with me or something wrong with them. There must be another way to think about this situation, so what is it?

What if Nothing Has Gone Wrong?

And in a related question, I also like to ask myself: what if nothing has gone wrong here? 

Remember, our brains love to jump to catastrophe. Our brains often automatically assume that everything that happens that’s different from our original plan usually means that something’s gone wrong.

Just think about it, maybe you plan to have a meeting with someone. You have all of these ideas about how the meeting should go, but things don’t happen the way you anticipated.

Maybe that person disagrees with your ideas. Or maybe they’re not on board. Whatever it is. Your brain is immediately going to think that everything’s gone wrong. 

But what if that’s not true? What if nothing’s gone wrong? How could that be true? 

By helping your brain take that alternate perspective and consider the possibility that it’s not a problem, you are able to entertain different scenarios. You are able to consider the benefits from this situation that your brain otherwise thinks is negative.

Questions to Take Action

And this actually leads me to the last area that I want to discuss in terms of powerful questions because I often use that same question – what if nothing’s going wrong here – in order to help me take action as well.

Because oftentimes, one of the reasons why we don’t take action or we stop taking action is because we run into a challenge. Or we come up against something hard. And since our brain doesn’t like to do hard things and it would so much rather hide in the cave, we convince ourselves that something terrible has happened and that we should not try again. So we don’t. And we make zero progress forward.

What if Nothing Has Gone Wrong?

Let’s say you set a goal for yourself to create and follow your schedule for the next week. You have all of these plans, and you’re going to complete all of those tasks on your to-do list no matter what. But by the end of the week, you’ve only completed half of the items on your to-do list. 

Now, when you look at that result, you could think that something’s wrong. You could think that something’s wrong with the process. You could think that something’s wrong with you. Frankly, you can make it mean a whole bunch of negative outcomes. But I promise you, that line of thinking does not serve you. It is not helpful. And one of the ways that I like to challenge this is by asking myself: what if nothing’s gone wrong here?

Because if I ask myself that question, then I start looking for evidence to answer it. Maybe nothing’s gone wrong here because I’ve learned so much about the scheduling process.

I’ve learned about how I’m currently handling distractions and how much I can get done at different times. And I can take all of those lessons and apply them the next week and try again. And that such a valuable shift in perspective from “something’s gone wrong clearly I’m not meant to do this.” Right?

Why Aren’t You Taking Action?

Another question that I like to ask my clients when they are stuck in inaction or not following through is super straightforward. I simply asked them: why are you not taking action? 

Again, I know this seems like such a simple question, but it is so effective. And it’s so effective because it helps you turn inward, it helps you think about what’s going on, and it identifies what’s holding you back. 

Now, chances are, when you ask yourself why am I not taking action, or why am I having this problem, your brain is going to list some outside circumstance.

Probably for many of you, since I know so many of you are pursuing incredible goals, your brain will offer a thought like: “there’s just not enough time. I’m too busy. I don’t have time to work on that right now.” 

And if you hear some version of that response, I invite you to ask yourself, “is this true?” And be really honest with yourself. 

Is it true that you didn’t take action on your goal last week because you were too busy? Or is it because you weren’t managing your mind? Or is it because you were getting distracted by social media? Is it because you had different priorities? 

And please hear me – this is not meant as a way to beat yourself up. I’m not having you ask these questions to create reasons to feel bad about yourself. 

Instead, you’re asking these questions to raise your level of awareness and understand what’s going on in your model. Because when you ask yourself why you’re not taking action or why you’re having this problem, and you really check in with yourself and make sure what your brain offers is true, you’re able to act from that place.

Taking Action Example

So let’s play this out. If you had the intention of writing a draft of a chapter this week, but you didn’t work on it, the first thing you could ask yourself is this: “why am I not taking action? Why didn’t I work on the chapter?” 

If your brain offered something like: I had too many things on my schedule. Or there wasn’t enough time to get it all done, then you might ask yourself: is this true? Can I be certain it’s true? And then listen to that answer. 

Chances are, you will realize that that book chapter was simply not one of your top priorities. It may have been your top priority on your list, but your actions suggest otherwise. You weren’t making it your top priority as you worked throughout the week. And knowing this is so powerful. Because you can readjust and try again the next time.

A similar question that I like to ask myself is: what can I learn here? If you’ve gone after a goal but you didn’t quite reach it, remember, nothing’s going wrong here. Instead, there is a learning experience. There is an opportunity for you to grow.

So what can you learn? What can you take away from this moment? How can you turn it into a learning experience and build from that new knowledge? Dig into that question. Pull out those gems of wisdom. And allow yourself to grow.

What Can I Do Today to Move Forward?

One more question I like to ask myself if I’m not taking action or I’m feeling stuck is: “what can I do today to move forward on my goal? Or what can I do this hour to move forward on my goal?”

A lot of times we get super overwhelmed by our big long-term goal. 

We tell ourselves there’s too much to do, we don’t know where to start, there’s not enough time, it’ll never get done. But by really zooming in and focusing on this moment. On this day. And on this hour. You are able to really narrow your focus.

You are able to identify one concrete result that you’re going to create in that hour that will move you forward. And again, don’t let your brain say I don’t know. What if you did know? Answer that question and move forward.

How Am I Living the Life I Want Today?

And a similar question is: “how am I living the life I want today?” 

I was on a coaching call the other day, and a woman offered powerful thought, which was a spin on the idea of “be here now.” And that new thought was “be her now.” And I thought this was really powerful. Because I love looking to my future self. I love thinking about what she’s doing, how she’s showing up, and the life she’s living. 

Because when I think about that Future Self, I think about how I can start living that way today. Because when you live into that future self, you’re bringing yourself closer to that next reality. You’re bringing yourself one step closer to your future self.

So again, how are you living the life you want today? How can you “be her now”? And when you find that answer, move forward. Take that next step. Follow through on that idea. And get one step closer to your future self.

Work With Me

And again, all of these questions are super powerful. All of these questions that we’ve explored over the past two episodes can take you so much deeper into your own self-awareness as you work toward personal growth, and strengthening relationships with yourself and with others, and taking action on those big goals of yours. 

When you’re getting started, however, it can also be challenging to set yourself apart and actually watch your thoughts. It can be difficult to separate your thoughts from the facts of the circumstance. It can be challenging to get that objective outside viewpoint.

And if you find yourself struggling here, definitely sign up for a free session with me. We will work together to identify what’s going on for you. We’ll explore these different thoughts that you’re having. We will question them with these powerful questions. And we will identify ways for you to start thinking differently and move forward.

So if you’d like some free coaching, all you have to do is go to imbusybeingawesome.com/freesession. Sign up for a time that works for you, and I take care of the rest. You just need to show up. I got you.

And also, make sure that you head to today’s show notes if you want to get the free pdf of all of these powerful questions plus a handful more that we didn’t talk about during these last two episodes. You can go to imbusybeingawesome.com/episode33, now you’re free workbook, and start asking yourself these questions anytime you need that deeper sense of awareness or clarification in your life.

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