Do you know how to question your own brain? Do you challenge your own thoughts? Some of us are pros at challenging others’ beliefs but struggle to challenge our own.
Learning to ask your own brain good questions is a skill that will serve you for the rest of your life. Rather than taking your thoughts at face value, a good question encourages digging deeper. This is where the truth comes out about what we are making things mean and how we are holding ourselves back.
We can only change the narrative in our brain when we know what is there in the first place. Asking good questions will help you get to know yourself on a deep level, and give such great awareness that you will be able to change your thoughts to create what you want on purpose.
I’m Andrea Giles. And you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast,
episode number 60, how to ask good questions.
Hello. And welcome to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast, for courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouses betrayal, but to become the
boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves ever.
If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently living, but
don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place. Stick around
to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks off. Is it
possible? It is. And I’m here to show you how. I’m your host, Andrea Giles.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello, everybody. Welcome to episode number 60. I hope everybody’s doing
well. I wanted to say thank you for those of you who have reached out and
commented and given me feedback recently. I love hearing from you. I’ve
heard some of you comment about the podcast about grief last week, which I
appreciate. I appreciate hearing from you. So thank you. I like to know
where I can help and where you’re feeling stuck and I want to help you,
want to help you move forward. So if there’s things that you want further
understanding on, further clarification, please email me, Andrea at
AndreaGiles.com. I will get it. I will respond and I will take into
consideration everything that I hear from you.
I also want to say that I mentioned last time I believe, that I’ve opened
up as many spots as I can for one-on-one on coaching before I leave on
maternity leave. It’s coming up. I am due in December. So it’s a coming. I
have hired an incredible coach, [Mikki Gardner 00:01:55]. She’s incredible.
She’s a really, really good coach. She is going to be subbing for me while
I am out for those of you who start working with me and want to continue
having one-on-one sessions. You’ll be able to either continue working with
her while I’m out, or you can hold off until I come back. That works, too.
But I’d love to help people, especially as we head into the holidays, if
you have been sitting on the fence, now is the time. Come talk to me. You
can come book a call with me, AndreaGiles.com, and let’s see if we can get
rolling. I want to help as many of you as I can possibly fit in before I’m
out for a little while.
So on to today’s topic, how to ask good questions. Let’s talk about what
that means. What coaching is, it’s where we learn how to question our
thoughts. It’s where we learn how to separate the difference between
circumstances and thoughts. Most of us have lived our whole life taking our
thoughts for granted, not really thinking about them, not really noticing
that they’re thoughts, not even noticing that the thoughts that we’re
thinking are not actually facts. Circumstances are the hard, cold, boring,
facts of a situation. The thoughts are what we make it mean, all the things
that we think about it. I’m going to give you an example that happened
recently with a client.
I give my clients homework every week. Some of them love doing homework and
soak it up and eat it up. Some of them don’t. I always meet my clients
where they are. I’m never going to force them to do homework. They get a
lot out of just coming to our calls every week. But I do offer homework to
everybody who wants it. I gave one particular client a homework assignment
to write down all of her judgements of herself. On the call, I had noticed
a few different times, and in more than one session, where she had some
blanket statements that she said about herself. So I asked her to go write
down all of the judgments. Let it loose. Write it down.
She brought it to the call the next week. She had sent it to me so I could
go over it. It was so fascinating to be able to show her how most of the
things that she wrote down were thoughts, almost all of them. There were
one or two that were actually circumstances. The rest of them were just
thoughts that she has about herself. The beautiful thing is that our
thoughts are optional. Always, they’re optional. We don’t have to believe
them. And you know what? Circumstances, too. When we can change our
circumstances, knock yourself out. If you can change them, if there’s a
behavior that you don’t love, like if you…
Here’s one that I’m working on. At night, I get kind of hungry. But I
notice that when I eat at night, I’m really uncomfortable all night long.
It’s not like a bad habit. It’s more like weighing my options and going,
“Okay, if I do eat something, if I eat something lighter, then it doesn’t
sit so heavy all night. If I eat something heavier, like I ice cream, I’m
going to be uncomfortable all night long.” So it’s just choices, but it
doesn’t mean anything about me personally. So I can change the circumstance
and go, “Hmm, I think I’m going to eat some fruit instead of a bowl of ice
cream.” It’s interesting when you notice, on paper, how many things that
you are more than likely thinking about yourself that are just thoughts,
This is the work that I do on myself all the time, in my own self coaching.
By the end of this episode, you are going to know how to self-coach at a
deeper level. I’m going to teach you this so that you can do this work for
yourself. Now, there are high-quality questions and low-quality questions.
Low-quality questions will keep you going round and round and either will
keep you stuck in the same thought pattern you’re in, or it will be take
you down into a spiral of more negativity. High-quality questions will give
you traction. You will feel yourself shift. You’ll have to think at a
higher level. You’ll feel the crunch in your brain. It can be
uncomfortable. Almost like working out a hard math problem. It can feel
like a strain, but you will feel a shift because you are using your brain.
You’re thinking differently. It will shift the emotion. You will feel
something move in your body.
First, I’m going to give you some examples of low-quality questions. Then
we’re going to move on to the rest of the podcast, which is all going to be
about high-quality questions. Low-quality examples would be, let’s say that
you have a circumstance of, to my example of, I ate a bowl of ice cream. A
low-quality question would be, what is wrong with me? If I ate it right
before bed and knew that I was going to be on uncomfortable and did it
anyway. Heaven forbid! What is wrong with me? What do you think that’s
going to do? My brain would start looking for evidence, “Oh yeah, you did
this last night, too. You never learn. Look at you. You’re going to gain so
much weight. You should be doing better.” Going to the bullying, mean
judgment. That question is not going to take you anywhere useful.
Another one, why can’t I figure this out? And another, what was I thinking?
What was I thinking? Another one, what do I do? What do I do? These
thoughts are dead ends. They will take you nowhere. They will keep you
spiraling. They will keep you going round and round and round. So let’s
move on to high-quality questions. The higher the quality of the question,
the higher your magnificent, incredible, powerful brain will think. You are
pushing your brain to think at a higher level. You’re asking it to stay up
and solve a problem. You are raising the value of your own brain. Isn’t
that awesome? You get to choose to do that, to raise the value of your
First of all, I want to talk about this podcast for a second. I’ve learned
a lot about this process of asking my brain questions by creating this
podcast. People ask me all the time, “Is it hard for you to come up with
new things to talk about? How do you do it every single week?” and things
like that. Well, I’ve had to learn to ask my brain good questions. I listen
to my clients. I listen to where they’re stuck. I have a little index card
on my desk and I write down topics that come to mind like, this would be
useful. Then I take that and I ask my brain questions. I go, “Okay, what
about this would be useful? What would be the best way to cover this? How
could I go even deeper? What examples could I use?” I use my brain to come
up with the content instead of waiting for something outside of me to
magically tell me all the things that I need to say. I ask my own brain.
And I’ve gotten better and better now that I’m on episode 60. This is my
60th episode to record. I’m much better at it. I used to take a really long
time planning out my podcast. I’ve gotten more efficient. I can get it done
quicker, because I’ve learned to elevate my brain. I’ve learned how to do
it faster. I’m going to give you some examples of different ways, first of
all, to notice what you’re even thinking. We can’t challenge our thoughts
if we don’t know what those thoughts are. I’m going to teach you how to
notice your thoughts, and then I’m going to teach you what to do with them.
Number one, number one is called a thought download. A thought download is,
basically, where you are taking out a piece of paper and you are dumping
your brain out on paper. You are dumping out all the thoughts, all the
thoughts. You’re dumping it out. Then what you can do with that is you can
look at all of the things that you wrote down and you can sort through and
you can separate what is actually a circumstance and what is a thought. And
a circumstance, again, is the most boring, factual fact, very boring, like
he said this. She said this. I weigh this much. He did this. It’s very…
as boring as you can make it. Honestly, just the facts. It has to be
something that everyone in the world would agree happened. Like if you went
into a courtroom, the judge would say, “Yes, that’s factual.” Like the
Where it gets juicy and dramatic and all the things is in the thoughts.
That’s where we bring all the drama, all the pain, all of the things, is in
our thoughts about it. So separate them out. What you’ll notice is that
most of what you write down are thoughts. Most of it. Probably 95%, if not
a hundred. Now, that’s one method. Another method is to write down a
specific circumstance. Write that at the top of your paper, the actual
circumstance, like he said, and then write down the words that he said. She
said, write down these words. I said, or I did this, or I work this many
hours a week, or I cook dinner this many hours a week, whatever it is.
Even things like depression or anxiety, let’s say that you struggle with
depression. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. We’re going to put it
in the circumstance line. Depression, and yes, sometimes our thoughts can
create more depression, but I’m talking about depression in the clinical
sense right now. So you put that at the top of your paper and write down
all of your thoughts about it, just like with he said, these words, you
write down the words. Then you are going to write down all of your
thoughts. What a jerk. I can’t believe he said that. He must be right about
me. Why would he say that? He doesn’t care about me, on, and on, and on.
Now, what do you do with those thoughts? If there is a circumstance that is
currently taking up a lot of space in your brain, I want you to use a
thought around that. Grab one of those thoughts that’s on your paper. Now,
there’s a couple things that you can do with it, depending on how you like
to see things on paper. So you’re going to be going straight down the
paper, like a journal entry. Let’s say that the circumstance is this, let’s
say that your spouse said. “I was never happy with you. I was never happy
with you. I was never in love with you.” Your thought is, “I guess I don’t
know anything, because I thought we were happy.” Now, this is where
questioning thoughts comes in.
You might take that at face value. What do I know? I don’t know anything.
But what we’re going to do is we’re going to poke some holes in that
thought. Here are some questions that could help open that up. What do I
know that was real? What was real in my mind? How do I know? What if he’s
wrong? What if it’s true that he never was happy? So what? What am I making
it mean about me? Is that true? Why or why not? How can I know? Can you see
how those questions are leading you to find your own answers? They’re in
your brain. You’re not asking anybody else. You’re asking your own brain to
think at a higher level.
I like to think of it like a big, huge balloon. You’ve got this big balloon
in front of your face. It’s this huge balloon that you blew up and it’s
right in front of your face. And you can’t see very well around this,
because it’s right in front of you. Each little question that you’re asking
is like taking the tiniest little needle, the tiniest needle, and going to
the base of the balloon and poking the tiniest little hole. We’re not
popping the balloon, because our thoughts aren’t like that. We like to hold
onto our thoughts. But we are deflating it a little bit. We’re changing its
shape a little bit. We’re getting some motion. So that tiny little hole, I
hope you can imagine this balloon shrinking down right in front of you. It
can be kind of a slow process sometimes and sometimes it can be a big
shift. You keep playing with these thoughts until you feel it deflate,
where it’s starting to shrink down.
Now, another method. Do you remember, I think they’re called bubble charts
from school? In the middle of the paper is the thought that I want you to
examine. We’re going do something with that. Draw a circle around it.
You’re going to draw a line off of it. So in the middle, the thought that
I’m going to use as an example is, I am too emotional. We’re drawing a line
and that line says, what does that mean? And then you’re drawing another
line and saying, “It means you cry too much.” Then you’re drawing another
line saying, “Are you sure? How do you know when it’s too much?” And you’re
answering that. And so you’re going to have all of these arms, branches
coming off of that initial thought.
You can start another arm with, what else could be true? And see where that
takes you. Drawing another one and saying, is it possible that you are
healthy for letting yourself feel? Draw another one, what if you’re the
healthy one? Just like that, you can take up the whole paper with so many
thoughts that poke a hole at the original thought. You can ask, how old is
this thought? I love that thought. How old is this thought? I am too
emotional. Ah, someone told me that when I was in third grade. And I
believed them. That’s a pretty old thought.
So now, what do you do with those thoughts? First, go back to the original
thought. What is it costing you to continue on with the same thought?
What’s it costing you? Sometimes we really like holding onto these
thoughts, kind of like our little comfort blankets, our little woobies. We
like to hold onto them, because we know them so well. We’re going to model
it out. We’re going to turn it into a thought model. The circumstance is,
he said he was never happy with me. I guess, I don’t know anything, because
I thought we were happy.
Now, if that thought continues on and is rehearsed over and over again,
it’s probably going to create a feeling of confusion. From that feeling of
confusion, it’s probably creating second guessing, doubting, blaming
yourself, wondering what’s wrong with you, wondering how you didn’t see it,
wondering what’s wrong with him. Giving more questions and going back and
looking over your life with this person and going, “I really didn’t know
anything.” That’s the result you’re creating. I don’t know anything and
second guessing all of your decisions, because if I don’t know that, I
don’t know anything and keeping yourself in this stuck spiral.
That second model, crying three times a week. The thought is, I’m too
emotional. The circumstance that I came up with is crying three times a
week. The thought is, I’m too emotional. Feeling embarrassed. The action
you’re taking from that feeling of embarrassment is trying to avoid your
own feelings so you don’t cry. I’m too emotional. I’m going to try not to
cry. I’m going to judge myself for wanting to cry. And I’m going to blame
spouse, because he makes me want to cry, for sure. I’m to resist my
feelings. Here’s the problem with this is that the result you’re creating
is that you’re layering on even more emotions to the initial feeling that
was leading you to want to cry. You’re not processing the actual emotion,
which makes you more emotional. You’re piling on more emotions. You’re
making yourself more emotional rather than letting yourself process the
emotion and getting back to a neutral place.
You can continue in these models and nothing will change, round and round
you go. Or you can examine them. Keep what is actually true. Let go to what
is not. This is the art self coaching. If you find some truth in something,
own it. Own it. It’s not a problem. Notice what you’re making it mean about
you. Drop the judgment. For example, if somebody says some words to you
about you’re being selfish, you can go, “Okay, that’s their thought, but is
there any truth to it?” And you can check in with yourself and go,
“Sometimes I can be selfish.” Then you can look at what you’re making that
mean. What does that mean, that sometimes I’m selfish? What does selfish
even mean? There’s so much work you can do there. What does it mean to be
selfish? What have I been taught about being selfish? Do I like that? Do I
agree with that? What’s the problem with being selfish?
You can go all down and really understand your brain and what you’re making
things mean. You can notice things that you might find some truth in. Look
through it. Examine it. Check in with yourself. Is this in alignment with
who I want to be? If not, you can decide how you want to be moving forward.
And if there is no truth to it, then you get to decide what you want to
think instead. You get to decide. You get to use your brain to tell
yourself a different story that helps you to actually move forward.
What happens if you do this on a regular basis is you become a pro at
coaching your own brain and helping yourself move forward. You build self
trust. You learn to more quickly discern between thoughts and circumstances
and how to evaluate them. You will be able to move forward out of negative
thought cycles faster. You’ll be able to move forward. I want you to go
have fun with this. In wrapping this up, I’m going to leave you with some
questions. I’m going to leave you with some questions that you can ask your
brain. All right, if any of these, stand out to you, write them down and go
ahead and practice them.
Where did I get this information? Where did this come from? Why am I
believing this? Why am I choosing to think this? So what? Is it true? How
do I know? Why not? Is this a problem for me? Why is this a problem? What
am I making it mean? Who would I be without this thought? What would my
life be like without this thought? Is it helpful? Is it useful?
Does believing this serve me in some way? What is the upside to believing
this thought? What’s the downside? Do I want to keep believing this? Am I
willing to let this go? What else could I think? What might someone else
think? Do I love this reason? Are there any other options? Is it possible
that there’s another way to think about this? Can I imagine something
different? And one of my favorites is, what would love do? What would love
Okay, my beautiful friends. That’s what I have for you today. You truly are
one thought away from a breakthrough. One thought. I do not subscribe to
the thought of people that it has to take months and years to move forward
from certain circumstances. Do you want to know what it really takes? It
takes processing your emotion and looking at your thoughts and deciding
what you want to think on purpose. That’s what it takes. You’re one thought
away from that next breakthrough, my friends. All right, I hope that you
found this helpful. I will see you next week. Take care. Bye-bye.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at AndreaGiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
it’s AndreaGiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.