Asking yourself stupid questions can help you heal from old emotional wounds.
I use a “drill-down” technique to get to the root of fear, shame, guilt, and other emotions I don’t like feeling. When you’re drilling down into an issue you’re having, and you get to the point where you say, “Well, that’s a stupid question,” don’t stop, you’re on to something!
For example, if I asked you, “Why don’t you like being lonely?” you might respond with, “Well, that’s a stupid question. Who likes being lonely?” or something similar.
That kind of answer is where many people usually stop thinking. They never consider what’s beneath that response because they just know they don’t want to be lonely, so they believe there’s no reason to explore their thoughts or emotions beyond that.
Using loneliness as an example, let’s just say you don’t want to feel this in your life.
Why don’t you want to feel loneliness? What about loneliness is a problem?
These are the “stupid” questions we usually don’t ask ourselves. We stop there because we believe there’s nothing more that we need to know.
But what if knowing why you felt lonely actually helped you heal from something deeper going on inside of you? What if you could resolve an emotional trigger that could change your life?
If you stop digging into yourself at the first stupid question, you are giving up a chance to heal unresolved issues. Throughout life, we’ve been conditioned to believe it’s bad to be dumped or fired, or broke, or unhealthy, or any of a number of things that might make us feel down or upset.
I’m not saying these things don’t cause pain or fear, but I am saying that most people don’t drill into the “why” these things cause us pain or fear.
There’s a good reason to learn why you don’t want to feel a certain way:
Connecting with deeper pain or fear helps you to become free of it.
Learning why also makes you less fearful and more conscious of life’s challenges instead of unconsciously waiting for emotional triggers to set your mood.
Let me give you an example of a stupid question that can lead to healing, and why asking yourself “stupid” questions is smarter than you’ll ever know. Let’s use an example of being fired from work. If you have a fear of being fired, explore your fear using a drill-down process by asking yourself questions like this:
- What exactly do I fear?
- Why do I fear that?
- What’s so bad about that?
- How is that a problem?
- What could that lead to?
- What’s worse than that?
- What else could happen?
In context, this process might look something like this:
“What exactly do I fear?”
I don’t want to get fired.
“Why do I fear that?”
If I get fired, I’ll lose my paycheck. I need every single one.
“What’s so bad about that?”
What? That’s a stupid question. If I lose my paycheck, I’ll have no money for food or my bills.
“How is that a problem?”
What? That’s another stupid question! It’s a problem because if I have no money, how am I supposed to eat? How am I supposed to pay rent?
“Why is that bad?”
What? If I don’t eat, I’ll starve or worse. If I can’t pay rent, I’ll be living on the street.
“Is living on the street bad?”
That’s ridiculous! I’d be eating out of garbage cans. I’d be begging for change on the side of the road. No one would care about me. No one would love me…
And so on. As you can see from this example, the fear we started out with (losing a job) had a deeper origin of not wanting to feel unloved or unwanted. That might sound like a stretch, but often obvious fears are deeply rooted and not conscious.
We go through life having surface-level thoughts like, “I don’t want to get fired” or “I hope they don’t dump me,” without thinking much about what’s underneath that (and underneath the next layer and the next).
Many people don’t explore the origin of their fears.
The deeper meaning of your pain and fear can be revealed by asking yourself these kinds of questions. “Stupid” questions lead to smart answers that may reveal to you something deeply ingrained, causing you to behave from that space. For instance, if you truly feared being unloved (another surface fear we could dive into) by getting fired, then every decision you make in life would be motivated by that fear.
There’s a big difference between making decisions out of a fear of getting fired and a fear of being unloved or unwanted. And realizing this difference can often change the decisions you make, changing your life.
Use these questions and questions like them to help you get to the root of your fears, pain, shame, guilt, and worries. Perhaps you’ll learn something new about yourself, and maybe, just maybe, a stupid question will lead to an insightful answer.