Self-talk: Change your Questions!

“Self-talk” – we’ve all heard of it. Negative self-talk can drag us down. Many with ADHD find themselves in a cycle of negative self-talk. Positive self-talk can help garner our energies to move forward more easily. Most coaches and therapists will at some point help a client look at their personal self-talk to see how it might be influencing energy, motivation, and direction in various situations.

In addition to considering your self-talk, Marilee Adams, PhD, argues that it is important to become aware of the questions you are asking yourself. In her book Change Your Questions Change Your Life, she identifies two types of questions that can take us in two distinctly different self-talk directions: “judger” and “learner.”

1) “Judger” questions are often reactive. They arise from automatic reactions to a situation,  are typically blame-focused, and reflect a “win-lose” style of relating.

What does a judger question sound like?

Let’s say that you and a friend had a plan to meet for dinner. You show up late and she has already left. Here are some “judger” questions that might be going through your mind:

  • “Why am I always late?”
  • “Why does this always happen to me?”
  • “Why didn’t she wait for me when she knows I usually run late?” 
  • “Whose fault is it?”

The first question reflects self-blame or self-judgement; the second throws the blame out into the universe; the third blames your friend; and the last takes a win-lose perspective, assuming that someone must be to blame.

None of these questions will lead to an improved situation between you and your friend, will they?

2) “Learner” questions reflect choice. They are solution-focused, reflect thoughtful choices, and demonstrate a “win-win” perspective.

What does a learner question sound like?

Let’s take the same scenario in which you and a friend had a plan to meet for dinner, but you show up late and she has already left. Learner questions could include:

  • “What happened here?”
  • “What might my friend have been thinking? feeling?”
  • “What can I learn from this?”
  • “What can I do now?”

Unlike the judger questions, learner questions set you up to move forward in some way, whether through learning, increased compassion and understanding, or new actions steps.

These questions sound more likely to lead to a workable solution for you and your friend, don’t they?

Judger questions are not uncommon. But, learner questions are more useful.

What do your internal questions usually sound like? What can you do about it?

For more help with your self-talk and internal questions, work with an ADD Coach. Contact me for a free consultation about these or any other concerns!

Posted in ADHD, stress

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