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Confession time! A few weeks ago I was having a few wobbly days. My morning yoga routine, meditation and planning my day weren't helping me leave the house in the calm, happy way I want. I found myself day after day shouting at the top of my voice and using lots of 'always' and 'never' statements to my, what felt like, out of control girls!
What am I doing wrong? I asked. Why am I such a rubbish mum? What is wrong with my kids? Why do they never do what I want? Why am I always saying the same thing over and over?
Anyone else been there? Phew.
And then it hit me. It was the questions I was asking.
I know this. I work really hard to ask myself questions that allow me to take positive action and to work with my vision of success, but I'd forgotten it. I'd stopped doing it in my tired, and consequently spiralling state. So, like anyone who is trying to develop new habits or 'reprogramme conditioning', that comes from birth in most cases, I knew I just had to start again. So, instead of all this crap, negative chat I started to use the solution focused questioning to get me back on track.
How can I enthuse the girls to get ready in a calm, efficient way?
I got the reward chart and added getting ready as a goal for the week with the much coveted 'screen time' as the golden prize. I set timers so they knew how much time they had for teeth, dressing and getting their bags together. I danced up the stairs in a conga from breakfast. We were all laughing.
Yes, there was the odd wrestling match on the landing (them not me!). Yes, I did still lose it once or twice when one of the little treasures left their book bag in the house, despite me handing it to them twice, making us nearly late!
But it got better, so much better and it was because of the questions I asked and the actions I then took.
Solution focused questioning can be used in any area of your life, not just the home. It is a real asset to my business as it develops and is a part of my coaching programme The Clearing On Line, which I will be launching next month.
To help me write this blog, I asked some of the gorgeous ladies I 'network' with on line to tell me some of the negative questions they get stuck in. These are clever, inspirational women who manage businesses, childcare, elderly parent care and homes etc. Their responses prove just how 'conditioned' we are in our culture and the way we speak to ourselves by thinking in a negative way. A way that doesn't help us come up with positive, solution oriented action. A way that feeds our self doubt even.
So that you can see this fab technique in action, I'll give you the honest questions these women shared and the solution focused question I gave them below it.
Serena: I haven't got enough time! Why can't there be more hours in the day?
SFQ: Ask, what is most important to me this month, week, today? What is the best use of my time?
Amanda: Why can't I afford it? - is a big one
SFQ: What can I do to generate more money? What can I sell from the home? Or from my business? What can I save? Where can I find more opportunities to earn money? What is it I want to afford? Can I get the same results with a little creativity?
Ana: I can't shed these last few pounds, what's wrong with me?
SFQ: What is stopping me losing these last pounds? What is making me look at pound loss, rather than how I feel in this dress, jeans, trousers? Is it the pounds that are important or the feeling of how I feel in my skin?
Janice: The one both myself and my hubby say and we need to stop is 'what's the point?' this is a really nasty one as it quickly spirals into 'why do I bother' no ones listening to me anyway?!
SFQ: (My favourite) What am I doing and why am I doing it?
Carly: When will I ever get any time to myself to do the things I want to do? I never do.
SFQ: What can I do today to ensure I make some time for me?
Clare: What can I do I'm stuck?
SFQ: What am I doing and why am I doing it? Follow that by , what small action can I take now to move forward?
Gill: Why can't I be more organised?
SFQ: What can I do that will make me feel calmer and in control of the most important things to do today?
Lauren: Why does everything take longer than I'd planned?
SFQ: How can I plan my time realistically and allow for the unexpected?
I think this is powerful stuff. When I maintain this way of thinking I feel calmer, more in control, and no matter what the outcome, more successful because even if the results aren't newsworthy, they make me feel on top of the world, because I am taking action in a positive and proactive way.
Give it a try.
1. Take the top 3 issues that make you fed up or areas in which you want to make significant progress.
2. Now ask yourself questions in your usual way.
Are they helpful? Are they supporting you to make change? Do they make you feel rubbish about yourself?
3. Reword them. Become solution focused more often.
4. Now, what action do you need to take to answer the question?
5. Take the action.
Feel calmer, more confident and more in control of your day, your life.
Let me know how you get on in the comments below.